When we are under stress, cortisol is an important hormone that helps our bodies cope. Unfortunately, because our adrenal stress response often overreacts, we end up secreting too much cortisol, for too long and this is what has detrimental effects on our health and our skin.
If that stress becomes long term, then the cortisol levels continue to increase and our DHEA/testorsterone levels decrease. It is this imbalance in these two important hormones that causes us to gain weight, lose muscle, become tired, hungry, crave sugar and fall victim to annoying little illnesses.
Cortisol also stimulates the breakdown of our skin. As we get older the elasticity and firmness of our skin naturally deteriorates but elevated levels of cortisol will not only speed up this process but also inhibit your body’s ability to repair this tissue.
Researchers in Finland found that high levels of cortisol reduce the quantity of proteoglycans and hyaluronan in our skin. These two chemicals are responsible for the hydration of the skin so our skin becomes more dehydrated with stress.
A similar thing happens with our collagen and elastin fibres (anti-wrinkle fibres) and this has lead researchers to believe that high cortisol levels accelerate skin aging resulting in wrinkled skin. In fact in laboratory rats, cortisol-induced collagen loss in the skin is ten times greater than in any other tissue. So there is much truth to the old wives tale about worry causing enough stress to the skin to result in lines.
But what can we do about this is stress is unavoidable? The key is to help your body recover from stress quickly by including some handy little rituals into your day.
We will look at the quick stress busters in the next blog post…