How Stress Affects Cortisol


The world is a stress-filled place. Stress can be overcome by a lifestyle that includes nutrition, life-style maintenance, exercise, and proper sleep as key stress reduction pathways. Without the proper building blocks for mental and physical health, our stress will overwhelm us.

Bad stress is a persistent feeling of loss of control and being overwhelmed, threatened or isolated. It can also arise from prolonged inactivity. In fact, it can just as easily be generated from our own thoughts, such as when we attempt to hold onto opposing views and values at the same time.

Negative stress is a growing and significant killer in Western societies.
Cortisol has been termed “the stress hormone” because it is automatically produced in much higher levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to anxiety and fear. It is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body. Small increases of cortisol have some positive effects:

• A quick burst of energy for survival reasons (adrenalin “rush”)
• Heightened memory functions
• A burst of increased immunity
• Lower sensitivity to pain
• Helps maintain homeostasis in the body

Consistent cognitive and emotional pressure can cause the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol, too often. Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream have been shown to have negative effects, such as:

• Impaired cognitive performance
• Suppressed thyroid function
• Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
• Decreased bone density
• Decrease in muscle tissue
• Higher blood pressure
• Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
• Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body.

Excess cortisol creates a cascade of internal compensating mechanisms that tax the other hormones and glands: thyroid, insulin, progesterone, testosterone, serotonin, DHEA. As a result, stressed people burn certain minerals in their bodies that are used in hormone production and regulation. There are both immediate and chronic effects.

Urine and hair analysis of people undergoing recent acute stress shows an immediate loss of calcium, magnesium and zinc.

If you are concerned about your stress levels, it may be time to consider diagnostic testing and a program to get back on track. These are individually formulated and patients are not only healed, but given the necessary tools to implement and make life long changes. High cortisol is not simply cured by taking supplements. It requires a restoration in your overall lifestyle and endocrine systems.

What’s in your mascara?


Eye cosmetics like mascara, can easily deteriorate your vision, especially if you use them daily and aren’t hygienic about it. If you don’t frequently change your cosmetic products, bacteria and fungi are most likely to grow and leach onto your eyes. These are issues in addition to the principle ingredients that are found in the product that can affect not only vision but your overall health. Mascara is a go to staple for women, and there are great options out there. Here are the top items to beware of:

These preservatives in cosmetics are used in mainstream beauty products to prevent bacteria from growing in mascara. The hygienic preservatives have been linked to mimic or disrupt estrogen in the body, also known as an endocrine disrupter. High amounts of parabens have been found in human breast tumors by Dr. Philippa Darbre, a research scientist at the University of Reading in the UK. Parabens found in foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics are getting into the breast at high rates.

Mascaras with Parabens: L’Oreal, Cover Girl, Avon, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Maybelline, Neutrogena, Revlon, Chanel, Lancome

Aluminum Powder
This metallic substance is used as a cosmetic colorant and is a neurotoxin, rated as a high concern by the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This neurotoxin is considered to be far worse than mercury because it has been linked to interfere with a variety of cellular and metabolic processes in the nervous system and other tissues, says a study published in the journal of Pediatrics. If there is long-term exposure of aluminum powder, it can impair the body’s ability to excrete mercury and as a result, can make whatever amount of mercury that is in your system more toxic.

Mascaras with Aluminum Powder: Cover Girl and Estee Lauder

Propylene Glycol
This mascara ingredient, although deemed safe by the FDA, appears to cause severe skin irritation and sensitization in people. Individuals who may be sensitive to this product can be exposed to a special form of irritation – allergic contact dermatitis, an allergic skin reaction caused by direct contact with an allergen.

Mascaras With Propylene Glycol: L’Oreal, Mineral Fusion, Rimmel, Avon, and Maybelline

Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate)
This harmful mascara ingredient is ranked as a high concern by the EWG because it can cause biochemical or cellular level changes. Retinyl acetate can produce excess reactive oxygen species that interfere with cellular signaling and can even cause mutations in your genes. While there is restricted use in cosmetics where beauty companies must meet recommendations or requirements in the U.S., the use of this toxic ingredient is prohibited and restricted in Canadian cosmetics.

Mascaras With Retinyl Acetate: Elizabeth Arden, Almay and Revlon
There are many more chemicals to list that are known health hazards. As well the colours including but not limited to: FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number (e.g. FD&C Red No. 6, D&C Green No. 6). These are believed to be carcinogenic, meaning that they can contribute to developing cancer.

Brands have we tested and use:

Nutrition: Stevia – Whispering Sweet Nothings

The stevia that is being added to everything these days is anything but “all natural.” These days it is in many products and supplements that are touted as “sugar-free” and “natural.”

In its original, unprocessed state, stevia’s molecular makeup triggers the tongue’s taste receptors for both sweet and bitter. But when scientists figured out how to chemically alter stevia, they snipped off the molecule’s less attractive, bitter bits. The result was a solely sweet product — one that’s up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar.

“‘Natural’ used to mean whole, as in holistic,” says Kevin Spelman, PhD, a principal scientist at Herb Pharm, a company that makes herbal extracts. “But the concentrated extraction of one particular fraction of stevia that exists in the little green packet is a far reach from how stevia appears in nature.”

Yikes… But there is more…

“In the context of human history, we haven’t been eating a lot of sugar or other sweeteners for very long — just decades, really,” says Paul Breslin, PhD, a researcher who studies taste perception in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers in New Brunswick, N.J. “We don’t know what these dietary changes will do to us in the long run.”

Breslin is concerned about physiological changes sparked by eating a diet that includes additives that are hundreds (or even thousands) of times sweeter than naturally occurring sugars. The body is exquisitely sensitive to sweets, he notes, and receptors in the intestine respond to both sugar and sugar-like substitutes.

When sweetness receptors on the tongue are triggered, the body prepares itself for an onslaught of sugar. Whether or not that sugar ever arrives, our bodies may still release insulin, a powerful hormone with significant biological repercussions for blood sugar and more.

“We respond hormonally to sugars — and possibly high-potency sweeteners — in our mouths. We also have sweetness receptors in the intestines, liver, pancreas and brain,” says Breslin.

According to The Food Babe – Truvia (owned by Coca Cola) goes through about 40 steps to process the extract from the leaf, relying on chemicals like acetone, methanol, ethanol, acetonitrile, and isopropanol. Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens.

In addition to this there is added an added genetically modified corn derivative and a chemically laden fermentation process. Other products like Stevia in the Raw contain dextrose…

So, what to do?

We recommend keeping the sweet tooth at bay… cravings are often the body requiring real nutrients.

When you do need to bake or sweeten something – stick to honey or maple syrup and coconut palm sugar all in moderation – coconut palm sugar is nutritionally superior for magnesium, amino acids and a host of other things but a little goes a long way.

It should be also pointed out that of the few studies published to date – most were commissioned through companies with a vested interest in marketing and selling the stevia product.

In the mean time, food and dessert can easily be prepared without added sweetness.