There is a connection between the health of your thyroid, the adrenals (stress... cortisol release) and the gut (t4 conversion in T3).
Cortisol (along with its partner epinephrine or adrenaline) is best known for its involvement in the “fight-or-flight” response and temporary increase in energy production, at the expense of processes that are not required for immediate survival. The resulting biochemical and hormonal imbalances (ideally) resolve due to a hormonally driven negative feedback loop. The following is a typical example of how the stress response operates as its intended survival mechanism:
1. An individual is faced with a stressor.
2. A complex hormonal cascade ensues, and the adrenals secrete cortisol.
3. Cortisol prepares the body for a fight-or-flight response by flooding it with glucose, supplying an immediate energy source to large muscles.
4. Cortisol inhibits insulin production in an attempt to prevent glucose from being stored, favoring its immediate use.
5. Cortisol narrows the arteries while the epinephrine increases heart rate, both of which force blood to pump harder and faster.
6. The individual addresses and resolves the situation.
7. Hormone levels return to normal.
So what’s the problem?
In short, the theory is that with our ever-stressed, fast-paced lifestyle, our bodies are pumping out cortisol almost constantly, which can wreak havoc on our health. This whole-body process, mediated by hormones and the immune system, identifies cortisol as one of the many players. But isolating its role helps put into context the many complex mechanisms that lead to specific physiological damage... such as diabetes (increased blood sugar level), hypothyroid, immune issues, wieight gain, cardiovascular disease.
As we’ve seen, cortisol constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure to enhance the delivery of oxygenated blood. This is advantageous for fight-or-flight situations but not perpetually.
Over time, such arterial constriction and high blood pressure can lead to vessel damage and plaque buildup—the perfect scenario for a heart attack. (Stress Test available here)
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