Cortisol – How to Lower It Naturally and Stay Calm?
Most people have heard about cortisol and that it is related to both stress and to weight gain, but not many people understand much about it beyond that. It is actually a hormone that is released naturally by your adrenal glands. This happens naturally when you are under stress. The point of it is to help your body respond to what is going on around you. The trouble occurs when the levels stay high for too long. When people remain in a constant state of stress, they have increased cortisol levels. This, in turn, can cause health problems. Some of the problems that this can cause or exacerbate are weight gain, disrupted sleep, high blood pressure, low energy, and a bad mood.
Normal Cortisol Range
There is a blood test that doctors can order to check the cortisol level in their patients. This test allows doctors to check for health conditions, such as obesity, osteoporosis, and Cushing syndrome. When levels are too high, these health problems can occur. Of course, a level that is too low will also result in issues for the patient, such as fatigue, low blood pressure, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. It’s important for cortisol to stay in the normal range – not too high or too low – for optimal health.
Raising Low Cortisol Levels
If you suffer from low cortisol levels, your doctor may want you to raise the amount of this hormone so that you stay healthy. This can be done naturally, though diet. Eating a lot of healthy food, such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruit, can raise these levels. One great fruit forthis is grapefruit. If you try to change your diet and are still having health problems that are related to a low level of cortisol, your doctor may want you to go on medication.
Lowering High Cortisol Levels
High levels of this hormone can cause a lot of harm to your body. It can especially be frustrating if you’re trying to lose weight but can’t seem to get this hormone under control! It seems like most people struggle with high levels of cortisol. Besides taking medications, there are some ways to lower this hormone naturally and help get your body back into balance. If you are able to do this, you can avoid taking medication and also avoid the many health risks that elevated cortisol levels bring with them.
Have Enough Sleep
Getting enough rest is one of the first things you need to try to do. Getting around eight hours of sleep each night will keep this hormone at a healthy level. People who suffer from sleep deprivation often have elevated levels of cortisol. This contributes to health problems that will only be exacerbated by the lack of rest that they’re getting. Shift workers are at a high risk for this and can help mitigate the problem by wearing a sleep mask to bed, blacking out the windows of their bedroom, and even using a noise machine to keep out unwanted noises during rest. Avoid caffeine, limit screen time before bed, and try to keep to a schedule to make it easy to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Exercise, but not too Much
Light exercise will not only help you sleep during the night, but will also keep cortisol levels low. After exercise it’s common for cortisol levels to be increased, especially if you’ve engaged in intense exercise like bodybuilding or training for a marathon. While the levels will be increased for a short while, it will drop by nighttime, as long as you haven’t pushed your body too hard. Yoga is a wonderful option, as not only will it keep you moving, but it allows you to be mindful and to learn how to calm yourself when you are in stressful situations. Other ways to manage stress can include reading, engaging in a hobby, or meditation.
Surrounding yourself with family and friends who love you and are kind, as well as spending time with a pet, are more great ways to lower this hormone and reap the health benefits. Time spent with friends or loved ones will help you build relationships that you can fall back on when you are stressed. These are important, as it’s these relationships that will lead to happiness and emotional health. Studies have proven time and time again that interacting with a pet and taking care of it lowers stress levels in people. This lower stress in turn means lowered cortisol levels.
Have the Right Foods
While food can be used to raise cortisol levels, it can also have the opposite effect. Eating a lot of added sugar is not good for you, but adding some of the following foods to your diet can help lower the level of this hormone. Green tea, water, dark chocolate, and bananas are also useful for lowering cortisol. Staying hydrated is key, as dehydration will naturally lead to higher cortisol levels. This is especially important if you choose to exercise, as your body will lose water naturally during this time. Drinking plenty of water is the best way to offset this problem. Dark chocolate is great to eat when you’re stressed, as it actually will decrease this hormone. The same goes for certain teas. Choosing green or black tea over coffee is better for your health in the long run.
If you’re struggling with health problems it may be time to see the doctor and have your cortisol levels checked. Because a high or low level can have such adverse effects on your body and your health, it’s important to get this hormone in the healthy range. With a simple test you will be able to see if cortisol is behind frustrating problems such as weight gain and blood pressure problems. Then, depending on your situation, you will be able to change your diet or lifestyle to correct this imbalance. You shouldn’t have to feel bad! If you suspect that cortisol might be hindering you from living your best, healthiest self, then it’s time to call the doctor and get your life back on track.