Over the years I’ve had several clients who have visibly aged faster than they need to.
Some came to me because they felt like it was happening.
Others, were feeling it while they were a client and despite me prompting, only decided to change their lifestyle once they had a warning large enough to help them self reflect.
They key is not to get to either of them.
I don’t care how tough you think you are, and what you think you can take from life…
Prolonged chronic stress will kill anyone.
Often it’s the tough ones that suffer from it the most because they’re willing to push forward on overworking, overtraining and getting by on coffee alone.
But it’s not smart or about proving something.
There was a time when I fell into some of the above, overbooking clients (16 hours a day), training twice a day 6 days a week, running a team, running a corporate wellness program and membership, media work, parenting, the list goes on.
I burnt out and made big changes so I didn’t go down that road again.
Point is, I know what it’s like.
And I also felt like I aged faster in that time period, couldn’t keep muscle on like I used to, energy in general impacted and DHEA lower than it should’ve been.
Interestingly, I actually managed to reverse this and the results showed in body composition (I put on 10kg of muscle and kept it), blood markers were optimised and visibly I looked younger again. You can too.
What is one of the main drivers of what ages you in these scenarios?
Chronic Cortisol release.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands, primarily in response to stress.
It plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including regulating metabolism, immune response, and blood pressure.
The dark side of cortisol is when we live a life out of balance as a human being, mostly yang and not enough yin.
The intricate interplay of this hormone in response to chronic stress yields a cascade of deleterious effects on both bodily and cognitive dimensions.
Muscle Loss: Cortisol, acting as a catabolic agent, promotes the breakdown of muscle proteins, thereby inducing a gradual loss of muscle mass over time.
Bone Density Reduction: The interference of cortisol in bone metabolism leads to compromised bone formation and density, predisposing individuals to heightened susceptibility to osteoporosis.
Impaired Immune Function: Chronic exposure to elevated cortisol levels manifests as immunosuppression, diminishing the body’s ability to mount an effective defense against pathogens.
Weight Gain: Cortisol’s propensity to stimulate lipogenesis and adipose tissue deposition, particularly in the abdominal region, underscores its association with weight gain.
Skin Aging: The collagenolytic properties of cortisol contribute to the degradation of collagen fibers, culminating in accelerated skin aging, characterized by wrinkles and reduced elasticity.
Impaired Cognitive Function: Cortisol exerts neurotoxic effects, impairing synaptic regulation and synaptic plasticity, thereby compromising memory, cognitive function, and mental acuity.
Disrupted Sleep Patterns: Cortisol dysregulation disrupts the intricate circadian rhythm, leading to disturbances in sleep architecture and contributing to insomnia.
Cardiovascular Issues: The hormone’s impact on blood pressure regulation, coupled with its involvement in vascular tone modulation, underscores its role in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular issues.
Blood Sugar Dysregulation: Cortisol’s interference with insulin sensitivity disrupts glucose homeostasis, laying the groundwork for dysregulated blood sugar levels and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Decreased Libido: Suppression of sex hormone production by cortisol translates into a diminished libido and sexual dysfunction, reflecting its pervasive endocrine influence.
Gastrointestinal Problems: Cortisol’s proinflammatory effects may contribute to gastrointestinal distress, potentially manifesting as irritable bowel syndrome and related maladies.
Thinning Hair: Cortisol’s impact on the hair growth cycle, including the inhibition of anagen phase initiation, results in a proclivity towards hair thinning and loss.
Mood Disorders: The neurochemical alterations induced by prolonged cortisol exposure heighten susceptibility to mood disorders, including anxiety and depression.
Increased Inflammation: Cortisol’s dichotomous role as an anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory agent, depending on the context, may contribute to sustained systemic inflammation.
Accelerated Cellular Ageing: Telomeric shortening, attributed to cortisol-induced oxidative stress, expedites cellular aging, rendering an individual biologically older than chronological age would suggest.
When chronically elevated, orchestrates a symphony of physiological and cognitive discord that significantly influences the aging trajectory of the body and mind.
No matter who you are and how tough you think you are, understanding and actioning cortisol control in your life will help you live longer.