Self-Care: Cortisol and Collagen

December 21, 2020


Dr. Keira Barr

One of the main components of our skin is a protein called collagen. Collagen makes up 30% of the proteins in our body. It is responsible for maintaining the structure of our hair, bones, muscles, and skin. Think of collagen as the glue that holds these things together. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, and the quality of the collagen we make drops. This process happens naturally. However, there are several more factors at play.

A fun fact? Estrogen is vital to collagen production. It plays a role in keeping your skin healthy and hydrated so that it can act as a barrier between you and the outside world.

But there is more. There is cortisol. Have you heard of cortisol? 

What Is Cortisol? 

Cortisol is a stress hormone. It regulates our metabolism, immune system, and fight or flight response. That rush of energy you feel in challenging or anxious situations? That’s cortisol driving the release of adrenaline. The adrenaline increases your heart rate. The increase in heart rate speeds the delivery of resources to your organs and tissues. Consequently, this ensures that the organs and tissues have enough energy to fight or flee.

But, where does this energy come from? It has to come from somewhere. Well, cortisol is responsible for that as well. It triggers the production and release of blood sugar. The release of sugar produces energy that our bodies can use. However, at times there is excess sugar present. And when our bodies have enough energy, it does not utilize that surplus of sugar for energy. Any guesses where it ends up? Yep, your belly. The dreaded menopausal muffin top.

What Happens To Collagen When You Have Too Much Cortisol 

When cortisol gets too high, it triggers inflammation. As a result, this impairs our skin’s ability to function as a healthy, protective barrier. Excess cortisol also hampers estrogen production. Due to the interference in estrogen production, your skin becomes dry and irritated. Lower estrogen plus elevated cortisol also means more hot flashes.

So, courtesy of chronic stress and menopause, your estrogen levels begin to decline. Along with an increase in cortisol, your menopausal symptoms spiral, feeding to the cycle of fatigue.

I know, it’s a lot. You might be sitting there thinking that your body is out to get you. I mean, it certainly feels that way. But you must understand what the heck is happening; so that you can find a solution.

When you know what is really behind the headaches, insomnia, itchy and tight skin, you will understand how – and why – taking a hormone-informed approach flips the script.

My Glowing Skin Cheatsheet shares nutritional information. It also consists of eating advice to help break the cycle you’re stuck in. Not because I want you to go on a diet, but because food is one way to offer your body the support it needs to regulate stress and get back to balance.

So take a peek at your cheat sheet. Make a mental note of any favorite foods you see on the list or any recipes that come to mind. If my cheat sheet isn’t already waiting in your inbox, scroll down to the bottom of this page and sign up to receive yours now!