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Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, and its synthesis is regulated by the pituitary gland in the brain. This hormone is commonly referred to as the stress hormone, seeing that the production of it rises significantly in situations of stress, whether physical or emotional, such as strenuous activity, illness, infection and injury.

High levels of this hormone during periods of acute stress are not only beneficial but also reflect a survival mechanism: It increases the blood pressure, accelerates the heart rate, stimulates the glucose uptake, increases the appetite and accumulates a caloric reserve in the form of fat deposits, particularly around the belly. The accumulation of fat in the body is fundamental for survival in situations of starvation and food shortage. If there is enough food and the body is not being starved however, cortisol and abdominal fat are undesirable and unpleasant to the eye.


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