What you need to know about cortisol and how it affects the aging process

A violation of the production of cortisol, or the stress hormone, can seriously affect health and beauty. What exactly is the relationship? And what do you need to know to maintain youth for as long as possible?

Что нужно знать о кортизоле и как он влияет на процессы старения

Youth and beauty begin with health — including hormonal. However, the rhythms of modern life leave almost no chance for calm and inner balance, which is why the state of nervousness becomes a habit. Therefore, it is not surprising that problems related to the production of the stress hormone cortisol are extremely common today. What effect does this imbalance have on the aging process? We answer this question together with the endocrinologist of “SM-Clinic” Khava Ababukarovna Tsechoeva.

Cortisol — what is it, and what are its functions?

Cortisol is a vital steroid hormone that is formed in the adrenal cortex. It is often called a stress hormone, which is directly related to its function.

Cortisol mobilizes the body’s reserves under stress through its catabolic properties: it participates in protein metabolism (increases the breakdown of muscle protein to amino acids, from which glucose is then formed as an energy source), fats (stimulates lipolysis), cortisol also participates in the regulation of the immune system (anti-inflammatory effect), regulates blood pressure and much more.

Cortisol secretion is controlled by adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which is produced in the pituitary gland (this is an endocrine gland located in the brain and is responsible for regulating the hormonal system of the body). In turn, with an increase in cortisol levels, the stimulating effect of ACTH is blocked.

Что нужно знать о кортизоле и как он влияет на процессы старения

What determines the production of cortisol?

Cortisol is produced in accordance with circadian rhythms. Its maximum emission occurs in the early morning hours, then there is a decrease during the day. Normally, its short-term increase is noted with emotional, physical stress, pathological conditions (during illness).

How are cortisol and aging related?

The rate of aging of the body depends on genetic and provoking factors. Prolonged stress (physical or emotional) causes an excessive adaptive reaction of the body, during which adaptive effects are transformed into damaging ones and, in combination with genetic factors, lead to an acceleration of aging mechanisms, the manifestation of certain diseases that worsen the quality of life.

Stressful factors can lead to monotonous cortisol secretion during the day, with its slight decrease in the evening hours. In some studies, there is a link between gentle slopes of cortisol levels during the day and deterioration of emotional and physical health. Also, according to some studies, cortisol levels were associated with eating habits and lifestyle.

Thus, in young patients who adhere to the rules of a healthy lifestyle, the cortisol level corresponded to circadian rhythms, and patients who do not adhere to a healthy lifestyle (eating low-quality food, smoking and not observing sleep and rest) were subject to a decrease in the amplitude of the daily cortisol profile, which is usually observed in elderly patients.

Что нужно знать о кортизоле и как он влияет на процессы старения

In parallel with the production of cortisol, a hormone (androgen-dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate) is synthesized in the adrenal glands, which has a stress-protective effect on the central nervous system (for example, prevents the development of Alzheimer’s disease), and its decrease is also considered as one of the prerequisites for the development of diseases associated with aging. With age, the level of cortisol increases by 20-50%, and the secretion of stress-protective hormone (DHEA) decreases.

What can be done to normalize cortisol levels?

If you suspect that your cortisol is not in order, the first and most important step is a visit to a specialist who will prescribe all the necessary tests and provide early diagnosis of possible pathologies. Prevention of deviations associated with the production of stress hormone may include careful monitoring of sleep and wakefulness, competent equipment of the sleeping space, the inclusion of regular physical activity in the daily routine. Do not forget to drink enough water a day and monitor the balance of the diet.

Endocrinologist “SM-Clinic”.

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