Stress and hormones: How to balance cortisol levels

5 minutes

Stress and hormones: How to balance cortisol levels

Cortisol, the "stress hormone," is necessary for energy and health, but when it is out of balance, you are as well. Learn how to control low and high cortisol levels to prevent inflammation, cravings, and belly fat. 

It is often referred to as the "stress hormone," and it is generated in part by the adrenal glands when we are under stress and sense danger. The pituitary gland regulates the amount of hormone released by the adrenal glands to assist us to fight or escape. This alarm system is fantastic — unless it isn't. 

Many of us in today's fast-paced world are overworked, ill-rested, and under pressure from too many responsibilities, yet the alarm never goes off. 

This prolonged agitation causes cortisol function to go haywire, resulting in a slew of issues such as sleeplessness, increased belly fat, anxiety, and excessive exhaustion, to name a few. It's no surprise that cortisol has received a lot of negative attention in the health media. 

We are useless without it. The hormone is not only created in reaction to stress; prolonged stress just kicks it into overdrive. Normal levels are essential for sustaining consistent energy levels throughout the day. Cortisol also regulates the activity of other important hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and thyroid. While cortisol is necessary for maintaining homeostasis, chronic or high levels of cortisol can have negative effects on the body and mind. 

This guide will explore the effects of cortisol on the body and provide strategies for regulating cortisol levels naturally through lifestyle changes, diet, and stress management techniques.

How to naturally raise cortisol levels?

While it is normal for cortisol levels to rise in response to stress, high levels of cortisol in the body can have negative effects on overall health and well-being. However, there are natural ways to regulate cortisol levels and support a healthy stress response. These are;

Be careful with carbs

A low-carb diet may help with weight reduction, but it's not optimal for those who have cortisol issues. Subjects with cortisol problems were able to "reset" their curves in clinical research by eating low-carb breakfasts, moderate levels of healthy carbohydrates in the afternoon, and larger amounts of healthy carbs (think sweet potatoes, not pasta or bread) in the evening. 

Avoiding carbohydrates entirely might cause cortisol to remain high when it should be decreasing. When you're short on carbohydrates, your cortisol levels rise because your muscles are being ripped apart for that glucose. 

Take supplements

There is no one supplement that will reset your cortisol rhythm, but Gottfried recommends supplementing with three critical nutrients: omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and B5, and calcium (pantothenic acid). 

Healthy volunteers who took 2,400 mg of fish oil daily for six weeks had lower morning cortisol levels and leaner body mass, according to a 2010 research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 

Because vitamin B5 seems to minimize cortisol hypersecretion, researchers advocate it as a "low-risk therapy" for patients suffering from chronic stress. (A decent B-complex supplement will guarantee you obtain the entire complement of these stress-relieving minerals.) Experts also recommend taking a little quantity of vitamin C (no more than 1,000 mg per day), which has been demonstrated to reduce cortisol levels in surgery patients. 

Reduce stress

Cortisol is a stress hormone. As a result, we can't speak about natural approaches to control your cortisol levels without first explaining how they got there. When your cortisol levels are out of whack, it indicates that your stress levels are out of whack as well. 

Destressing is the most effective natural technique to reduce cortisol levels. Consider your day and the places where you feel stressed. If you can't alter the circumstance, think about finding techniques to assist you manage your stress. Reduce stress whenever possible, and practice self-care. 

Avoid artificial light

Artificial light (particularly blue light) from televisions, phones, and laptops disturbs your circadian cycle and lowers melatonin synthesis (the hormone that signals your body it's time to sleep). Disrupting your circadian rhythm causes fatigue and disrupts your cortisol curve. Avoid any blue light for at least 1-2 hours before going to bed. 

Most phones, PCs, and tablets include a night mode that eliminates blue light. Better still, avoid using screens before night and instead engage in other soothing activities. 

Sleep quality

At night, you want lower cortisol levels and greater melatonin levels so you can sleep. Even low levels of light in your bedroom might have an impact on your cortisol and melatonin synthesis. 

Remove any chargers, alarm clocks, or other items that are flashing little lights in your room. If you have a lot of artificial light pouring in via your windows, black-out curtains might be a useful purchase. Any light while sleeping can disrupt your normal cortisol curve. Turn off the lights and enjoy the wonderful darkness of the night. 

Reduce caffeine

While it may seem like a good idea to grab a pick-me-up when you're tired, caffeine causes energy dips later in the day. It may also have an impact on your sleep. If you rely on coffee to get through the day, I suggest gradually tapering down while boosting adrenal support herbs and minerals to avoid withdrawal symptoms. 

When your cortisol curve returns to normal, you'll have the energy you need throughout the day and the rest you deserve — without having to trudge through the wired-but-tired cycle. You'll prefer the sensation of skiing down a mountain toa being thrown about on a roller coaster. And you and cortisol will be buddies again, cooperating rather than competing.

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