What is cortisol?
Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone, and it plays a
role in many physiological functions, including controlling glucose levels. The
amount of cortisol in the blood is generally higher in the morning and slowly
decreases throughout the day.
High cortisol symptoms include the diminished immune system, an increased
appetite, weight gain & increased belly fat, fatigue, disrupted sleep, blood
sugar problems, greater inflammation.
If you are stressed out all of the time, it might be
throwing your cortisol levels off their normal pattern. Find out how to
recognize the signals of high cortisol and how to reduce it. According to Mayo Clinic, the long-term activation of this
stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress
hormones that follow may disrupt almost all of your body’s processes. This
places you at increased risk of several health problems, such as:
– Digestive problems
– Heart disease
– Sleep issues
– Weight gain
– Performance and Memory impairment
Why is high cortisol a problem?
Stress triggers the release of cortisol. The body is based
on effective communication between the next three parts of the body to release the
correct amount of cortisol: the adrenal gland, the pituitary gland, and the
hypothalamus, which is part of the brain. Between them, they stimulate the
production of cortisol once the body requires it and block it if the amounts
will need to fall back down. Both too much and too little cortisol may have a
negative effect on the body.
That is why it’s essential to learn healthy ways to deal
with your daily life stressors.
There are many methods of lowering cortisol levels to help
ensure that the body handles stress appropriately. Some of these methods may
work better than others for different people.
Cortisol is one of the main hormones produced by the adrenal
glands. It’s called the stress hormone since it is released during times of
physical and psychological stress. Cortisol plays a role in reducing
inflammation. It also regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycles, heart rate, blood
pressure, blood glucose, and breathing rate to give you a natural energy boost
to take on whatever stressor is coming your way. That’s a great thing in the short term, but being stressed
can result in high cortisol levels all of the time, which can have a
significant influence on your health.
What is a cortisol test?
How do you get your cortisol levels tested? If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you
can always ask your physician about a cortisol test to find out
whether a cortisol imbalance may be behind your symptoms. At the home test, you
collect saliva first thing in the morning, before lunch, before dinner and
The results show your cortisol levels during the day. A
normal cortisol pattern begins high in the morning and gradually decreases
throughout the day, reaching its lowest point at night. If your routine looks
different, it may signify a cortisol imbalance.
Natural ways to reduce high cortisol levels
Here are some ideas on how to reduce your cortisol levels.
Meditation activates the body’s comfort response during the
HPA axis, the central stress response system. This lowers cortisol and reduces
your breathing rate, relaxes muscles, and reduces blood pressure. Additionally,
it arouses regions of the brain that control stress. Individuals who
completed an online mindfulness program for one hour per week for eight weeks
reported a 31 percent drop in stress levels a year following the program.
2. Gentle exercise
The duration and intensity of your workouts can have a large
influence on your cortisol levels. High-intensity exercise, around 80 percent
of your maximal oxygen uptake, even if done for only 30 minutes significantly
elevates cortisol levels. Consistent long-duration exercise may also increase
your cortisol level.
When scientists analyzed the cortisol levels from the hair
of endurance athletes, they found higher concentrations than in non-endurance
athletes. Reduced-intensity workouts on the other hand, like yoga, can reduce
cortisol amounts by deactivating the stress reaction, increasing
parasympathetic activity, and diminishing norepinephrine.
3. Eat healthily.
It might seem counterintuitive, but a small serving of a
healthy carbohydrate at dinner such as quinoa, brown rice, squash, or sweet
potato can actually regulate glucose levels and help you have a better sleep.
Cortisol and insulin have an inverse relationship, meaning when cortisol is
high, insulin is reduced. To ensure good health in the day, healthy carbs at
dinner can spike your insulin and reduce your cortisol. This helps you to
unwind and prepare for bed and restful sleep.
4. Forest therapy
If your present lifestyle leaves you lacking in time spent
outside, a dose of character might be just what you will need to help lower
cortisol levels. When a group of people was sent to spend some time walking
through a town or within a forest for 20 minutes, cortisol levels in the woods
group were considerably lower. In another study, a group of people spent time
walking through a forest one day and through a city another day. The forest
environment encouraged lower cortisol, more cerebral nerve activity, lower
blood pressure, and reduced pulse rate than the city atmosphere.
5. Sleep well
Sleeping in time with your body’s biorhythms and getting
enough quality sleep can help you decrease your cortisol levels naturally.
Ideally, getting to bed by 10 p.m. can allow you to avoid a late-night cortisol
spike that could make it tough to get to sleep and sleep soundly. This also
benefits from natural melatonin production, which begins around sunset to get the help you wind down.
6. Avoid caffeine at night
People trying to reduce their cortisol levels should avoid
consuming food and drinks containing caffeine in the evening. Caffeine can
interfere with a good night’s sleep, and sleeping well can keep cortisol levels
7. Relax before bedtime
A fantastic bedtime routine usually results in more and
higher-quality sleep. People should get in the habit of turning off all
displays and just relaxing before going to bed. It will usually also help keep phones, and some other
possible distractions turned off. Limiting fluid intake before bedtime may also
minimize the probability of disturbed sleep.
8. Love & support
Stable, loving relationships with spouses, friends, and
family can be vital when it comes to leading a happy and fulfilled life, and
they can help someone get through stressful periods.
9. Pet therapy
Some studies suggest that having a pet can lower cortisol
levels. People who had a dog present throughout the procedure had significantly
lower cortisol levels than those who didn’t. Another found that contact with a
dog was more beneficial for cortisol levels in relation to a supportive buddy
during a stressful situation.
10. Take supplements
Both fish oil and an Indian herbal supplement known as
ashwagandha has proven the capability to decrease cortisol levels, so taking
these supplements along with a healthy diet could be beneficial.
Too much cortisol in the blood can be detrimental to your health,
especially when cortisol levels remain high over a protracted period. Attempting
to reduce stress levels is the best way to reduce cortisol. By making simple
lifestyle changes with meditation, diet, exercise, and mother nature, one can live a healthier, more energetic life. Individuals are then able to decrease the amount of stress they experience and maintain their
cortisol levels normal.