Category Archives: Lab Results/Biomarkers

4 Basic Facts Everyone Should Know About Cortisol

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Meet the hormone that responds to physical and mental stress, is highest in the morning and typically decreases throughout the day, and increases during times of starvation: Cortisol.

Because healthy cortisol levels are key to living a healthy life, here are four facts you should know about cortisol and how it impacts your body.

4 Basic Facts Everyone Should Know About Cortisol

Fact 1:  Your body produces cortisol

Cortisol is commonly referred to as the “stress hormone.” Your adrenal glands, perched right atop your kidneys, make cortisol in an attempt to help your body handle stressful situations, which is a response to signals from the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland in the brain. You can read more about the cool process here.

Fact 2: Your body has an ideal range for cortisol

Your optimal range is between 2.3 mcg/dL and 19.5 mcg/dL.

If your cortisol is out of range (≥19.5 mcg/dL or < 2.3 mcg/dL), you might experience greater benefit from reducing stress.

Here’s a snapshot of cortisol levels tracked over time, as shown in any WellnessFX member’s personal, secure dashboard:

WellnessFX

Cortisol tests are usually taken in the form of a blood test. As detailed by MedlinePlus, cortisol levels change throughout the day, so the timing of a cortisol test is important. “A cortisol blood test is usually done twice a day–once in the morning when cortisol levels are at their highest, and again around 4 p.m., when levels are much lower.”

Fact 3: Your body requires a balance of cortisol

Overall you are aiming for the general range mentioned above.

While a little spike of cortisol is good – and natural – in response to short-term stressors, it starts to become a problem when the body starts making too much, too often.

High cortisol is an overreaction to chronic stress. Chronic stress, as detailed by the Mayo Clinic, can wreak havoc on your mind and body. If you’re used to spending your days worrying, overworking, or just generally freaking out, your adrenals try to help out by hitting you with frequent doses of fight-or-flight energy. Why is this an issue? Keep reading.

Fact 4: An imbalance of cortisol can interrupt other normal processes in your body.

When stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on, giving you a subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones. Constantly present stressors could include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Chronic stress (as mentioned above)
  • Daily morning/evening commute anger
  • Regularly arguing with a friend or family member
  • A lion chasing you once a week 

Many of your body’s normal processes can get interrupted by these bursts of cortisol —they’re placed on the back-burner while you tend to your “dangerous” situation. This can lead to a number of unhealthy issues, such as:

  • Systemic damage to the circulatory system. Cortisol tells your blood vessels to narrow, which increases your blood pressure and puts constant stress on your heart, veins, and arteries. It also can lead to high blood sugar, which can interfere with proper circulation and increase the buildup of cholesterol.
  • Low immune response. Cortisol reduces the immune response, leaving your body vulnerable to invading pathogens that can make you sick and the body more susceptible to infection.
  • Weakened bones/osteoporosis. Cortisol inhibits bone growth, leading to a greater chance of issues down the road.
  • Weight Gain and Belly Fat: Cortisol plays a central role in glucose metabolism and in the body’s response to stress. As detailed by Dr. Mark Hyman, “Stress creates hormonal responses that cause weight gain and insulin resistance. Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that helps you to run faster, see further, hear better and pump fuel into your bloodstream for quick energy. It is the hormone that helps us survive in the face of true danger.  It also shuts down digestion and slows your metabolism. All of this is perfectly normal in the short term, yet if left unchecked, prolonged stress and high levels of cortisol cause high blood sugar, increased belly fat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and muscle loss.”

3 Suggestions to Help Lower High Cortisol

  1. Get adequate sleep and avoid caffeinated products. Learn how to make the most of your sleep time with these tips from WellnessFX and WellnessFX Practitioner, Ben Greenfield.
  2. Decrease stress and increase relaxation, such as meditation in the am when cortisol levels are highest. Don’t underestimate the power of a moment alone. Taking 10 minutes to yourself can help hit the “reset” on all the troubles of the day. Check out 6 Ways Busy People Who Have No Time Can Unwind & Relax.
  3. Avoid over-training, not eating to meet your body’s basic caloric needs, and other states of body depletion.

How WellnessFX Can Help

WellnessFX Performance, Premium and Women’s Health can test cortisol, the key biomarker mentioned in this post. Or you can create a custom package and add it to a testing panel of your choice. We recommend checking out the full testing menu to see what package fits your needs best.

Everything from energy levels to fat metabolism, to focus and memory, to skin quality and ability to stay asleep at night are affected by hormones. Read more about about them in 4 Reasons That Could Explain Why You’re Tired All the Time.

We believe in the power in a drop of blood. Regularly testing your biomarkers gives you the data you need to make informed decisions, which can put you on track to anything from higher energy, better sleep, and even better weight management. Rather than play defense and wait to find an issue you need to then react to, why not play offense and work toward being the healthiest you can be?

Show me the tests

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.

Ask the Practitioner: How Your Gut Affects You As an Athlete

The 5 lbs of bacteria that reside in your body, known as your microbiome, are key to living a healthy life. For athletes that want to be on top of their game, the health of your gut can mess with your path to success – researchers continue to make discoveries about its connection to a variety of diseases and conditions, from anxiety and mood to obesity and IBS.

Tyler Lafleur 2nd degree connection2nd Owner/Coach at HPHI

Tyler LaFleur, RN, CCEP, CFMP

We asked WellnessFX practitioner and Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner Tyler LaFleur to weigh in on his thoughts when it comes to how athletes should consider caring for their gut health. Continue reading

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.

Understanding Endometriosis and Reproductive Health Testing

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The recent observance of National Endometriosis Awareness Month brought awareness to a disease which affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide and is the biggest cause of infertility in women.

What is Endometriosis?

As detailed on Endometriosis.org, Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is also found elsewhere in the body, mainly in the abdominal cavity. It typically affects women during their menstruating years. The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain. The pain often correlates to the menstrual cycle, however, a woman with endometriosis may also experience pain at other times during her monthly cycle. Continue reading

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.

The #1 Men’s Health Issue and What You Should Be Testing For

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Did you know that between 70% and 89% of sudden cardiac events that occur are in men? According to the CDC, half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have had no previous symptoms.

Cardiovascular disease is often described as a “silent killer,” because the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, inflammation, and atherosclerosis which is when plaque builds up inside your arteries, do damage “silently” and typically don’t result in symptoms that can be perceived until significant damage has already been done. Continue reading

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.

5 Facts You Need To Know About Magnesium

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Do you know about the nutrient that can affect your sleep, energy, longevity, and mood? Meet Magnesium.

Unfortunately, Magnesium deficiency is incredibly common, affecting more than half of the U.S. population.

Because healthy Magnesium levels play an important role in keeping your body healthy and functioning, here are 5 basic facts everyone should know about Magnesium. Continue reading

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.

4 Reasons Every Woman Should Be Paying Attention to Her Thyroid

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The thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck, can either make or break performance in all areas of life.  Identifying thyroid dysfunction is key to living a healthy and productive life, especially for women. In fact, according to the American Thyroid Association, women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to have thyroid problems! Continue reading

The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.