Cortisol is the primary hormone that is released by the body during the times of the stress. It is a steroid hormone released by the adrenal glands and it plays various bodily functions such as controlling the levels of the blood sugar. Cortisol is high in the blood in the morning but gradually decreases as the day goes.
Cortisol has the following roles as well:
Regulates the sleep-wake cycles of the body
Controls the blood pressure
Manages how the body should utilize fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Why is an elevated or decreased level of cortisol an issue?
This is because too much or too little of cortisol levels in our bodies can have some adverse effects. If you think you’ve experienced these symptoms then it might be because of either your low or high cortisol levels.
Symptoms of High Levels of Cortisol
When cortisol is too much in the blood it can cause Cushing’s syndrome. The symptoms of this condition are:
High blood pressure
A flushed face
More frequent urination
Changes in mood
Rapid weight gain in the abdomen or face
Decreased sex drive
Bruise or stretch marks on the skin
Irregular periods in women
High levels of cortisol can also lead to other conditions such as:
Type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure
Impaired brain function
Symptoms of Low Levels of Cortisol
When cortisol is too low, it can cause Addison’s disease. The symptoms of this condition are:
Gradual weight loss
Low blood pressure
Changes in mood
Areas of the skin appear darker than the usual
How To Lower Cortisol Levels Naturally
The body has the ability to increase or lower the levels of cortisol as necessary. Sometimes, however, the levels of cortisol may remain high and have a negative impact on your health.
The following are some tips that can help you to moderate the levels of cortisol in the body:
Eat a good diet
The following foods can help your body to control the levels of cortisol in the body:
Pears and bananas
Green or black tea
Probiotics in foods such as yogurt and foods with soluble fiber
Drinking much water also controls the cortisol levels
If you are trying to lower the levels of cortisol in your body, aim to reduce stress. Avoid all stressful situations where possible and also learn how to cope with stress. When it becomes difficult, see your doctor for some medications that can help improve your stress tolerance and lower the levels of cortisol.
Take up a hobby
Studies have shown that hobbies are a satisfying and rewarding way to give a healthier and fuller life. They can also lead to an increased sense of well-being. Some people with unusual levels of cortisol do gardening. Research showed that it can lead to low levels of cortisol.
Depriving yourself enough sleep can cause increased levels of cortisol in the body. Therefore, it is important you pay the attention to the quality and amount of sleep you get and limit the chances of disruptions.
Laugh and have fun
You can’t get stressed while you are having a good time. So find the time and have some fun to lower the level of cortisol in the bloodstream. There was a study that showed that the level of cortisol decreased after a laughter.
Try relaxation techniques
If you are experiencing stress, try to manage it by doing some relaxation techniques. Mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises may help you to effectively deal with your stress.
To be physically active is essential to your health and can improve your mood. However, intense exercise can increase the levels of cortisol. Do an appropriate amount of exercise that will control the levels of cortisol in the body.
Avoid caffeine at night
If you are aiming to reduce the levels of cortisol, avoid food and beverages that contain caffeine in the evening. Caffeine disrupts the good night’s sleep.
Have good relationships
To have stable and loving relationships with spouses, family, and friends is important in living a fulfilled and happy life. They can help you to get through stressful moments. This will help your body to regulate the levels of cortisol.
There is a study that showed that cortisol levels can increase after having an argument with your partner. Another one reported that children in happy and secure families have reduced levels of cortisol than in those families with conflicts.
Fish oil and a herbal supplement known as ashwagandha have demonstrated the ability to lower the levels of cortisol. Therefore, take these supplements together with a healthful diet.
To have a high level of cortisol over a prolonged period in the blood can damage your health. To lower the levels of stress is the key way to control and lower cortisol. Make some changes in your lifestyle by living a healthier and more active life to keep your levels of cortisol normal.
Edited by: Jessa (Jan. 30, 2019)