Cortisol is a stress hormone released by your adrenal glands, and while it’s perfectly normal and natural in small doses, too much cortisol can wreak havoc on your mind and body.
When you’re exposed to high levels of chronic stress, your cortisol levels go through the roof, and your brain suffers! Cortisol feeds on glucose – which is your brain’s major “food” source – as well as disturbs and interrupts the work of your neurotransmitters that carry your thoughts and feelings. Too much cortisol can hurt your emotional health, cognitive abilities, sex drive, and even your immune system.
The damage that cortisol can do to your brain can be short-term, but if you go through your whole life with high levels of cortisol you may find long-term damage as well as sub-optimal brain health. For example, there is some evidence that chronically high cortisol levels can be a major precursor to Alzheimer’s disease, among other age-related dementias.
In order to ensure lasting cognitive health, you need to be sure to take care of your brain’s physical matter: after all, when it comes right down to it, your brain is a physical entity composed of biological elements, and should be cared for and protected. Some brain cell death is natural and unavoidable: brain death as a result of chronic cortisol excess, on the other hand, is preventable.
Khalsa, Stauth (2001-01-01). Brain Longevity: The Breakthrough Medical Program that Improves Your Mind and Memory. Grand Central Publishing.