You have probably heard of cortisol – it often gets referred to as “the stress hormone”, although it has a far bigger and more important role in the human body than that. It’s important for everything from insulin management to immune and inflammation response. You need cortisol, you just don’t need stress so much. Managing stress is now recognized as an important approach to living a longer and healthier life.
Although it’s important to remember that what we call stress does also serve a useful function in the body. That fired up, anxious feeling when under stress is really just the ‘fight or flight’ response – that surge of chemicals in the body that rapidly prepare you to deal with something of imminent threat. So on those occasions it can be very useful, after all, it really could save your life. What the body can’t possibly cope well with is being in that state for long periods of time – it’s just not designed for that.
Hormones are fascinating as they control much of what happens in our bodies, and can be manipulated in all sorts of ways for everything from sports performance to entertainment – both offering legal and illegal routes! They can also cause all sorts of serious health conditions when out of balance, even those embarassing pimples we all know and hate.
Take body buildling for instance. Steroids and other hormone enhancing drugs can make a huge difference to muscle gains in the body. To the point that some athletes are willing to risk bans from their sport, whilst a tiny percentage of gym goers risk their personal health to get big muscles faster. But regulation has greatly limited the danger here with many hormone and prohormone based supplements becoming restricted from sale. The safer prohormones can still be found however – just be aware that you need to know what you are doing to use such supplements and to follow all the instructions and advice given by the manufacturers.
You can learn a lot more about hormones and how they work in the body at the Hormone Health Network, including the diseases and conditions that result from hormone imbalances.