Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress as part of the fight or flight mechanism. Cortisol’s role is to mobilise the body for action and prepare it to deal with the oncoming threat. Once the threat has subsided, then cortisol returns to normal, and the heart, for example, returns to its regular beat.
Long-term stress and high, long-lasting anxiety, does not provide an outlet for cortisol. Damaging levels of cortisol, continuously pumped out by the adrenals, remain in the blood and wreak havoc on the body causing inflammation.
It’s been long recognized that high levels of stress lower immune function, increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease, depression, and so on. Now, though, we know why. Long term, elevated cortisol levels impairs methylation!