The stress hormone cortisol can increase for many reasons, and too much cortisol can lead to chronic fatigue and sleep problems. Here are 7 ways to reduce cortisol levels.
When under stress, the body produces cortisol, which helps it to respond to dangerous and threatening situations. Cortisol, along with epinephrine, is an important stress hormone with a variety of functions.
Cortisol mainly helps in maintaining the balance of the body. It helps control blood pressure, metabolic activity, immune system response, inflammation, cardiovascular function and central nervous system.
However, high blood pressure levels can cause the body to produce excess cortisol. This can lead to a number of health problems such as high blood pressure, weight gain, high cholesterol, heart disease, anxiety, depression, immune system problems, learning difficulties and memory problems. So it is important to keep cortisol levels stable.
The role of cortisol in the body
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by cholesterol and secreted by the adrenal glands. Its secretion is dependent on another hormone called adrenocorticotropin, which is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain.
Cortisol has different roles in the body; It participates in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, helps regulate blood sugar by increasing glucose synthesis or gluconogenesis by the liver, regulates blood pressure and participates in bone growth.
The role of cortisol is to help the body cope with stress by activating the energy needed to nourish the muscles, the brain as well as the heart. Cortisol levels vary according to the time of day and night. It peaks in the morning and decreases throughout the day, reaching a low point in the evening.
Causes of high cortisol
Normal cortisol levels in the blood, which are assessed between 8 and 9 a.m., range from 5 to 23 mcg / dl. Typically, cortisol levels in the urine range from 10 to 100 mcg / 24 hours.
High cortisol levels can be a sign of the following health problems:
– Cushing’s syndrome, characterized by high blood pressure, obesity, hyperglycemia
– benign or malignant aAdrenal gland tumors,
– Cardiovascular problems,
– Inflammation of the heart muscle,
– Chronic alcoholism.
10 signs of high cortisol levels
How do you know if you are addicted to stress? Here are 10 signs that cortisol is at a high level.
1. Poor sleep quality
Usually, cortisol levels drop at night so your body relaxes and regenerates. High cortisol levels can be noticed when you go to bed at night despite being tired all day.
2. Feeling tired despite getting enough sleep
The adrenal glands secrete too much cortisol over time. It weakens the body for chronic fatigue. If you feel tired and exhausted in the morning, you are experiencing high cortisol levels. Your adrenal glands are responsible for making cortisol. Chronic increase in cortisol levels can cause adrenal fatigue.
3. Weight gain, especially in the abdominal area
Cortisol hormones cause weight gain, especially in the abdomen, even if you do everything right. This is inevitable, even if you exercise and eat a healthy diet.
4. Frequent infections
Cortisol disables the body’s natural defenses. A healthy immune system protects the body from disease. Excessive cortisol weakens the immune system and makes the body more susceptible to illness and infection.
5. Desire for unhealthy foods
Cortisol raises blood sugar and therefore increases the risk of diabetes. To reduce high blood sugar, more insulin needs to be secreted. And sudden unhealthy cravings may occur. If your craving for snacks like chocolate is recurring, you may have high cortisol levels.
6. Back pain and headache
Excessive cortisol secretion over a long period of time causes adrenal fatigue. This leads to an increase in prolactin levels, which in turn leads to pain sensitivity, persistent pain in the back and muscles. High cortisol levels also make the brain more sensitive to pain. It causes the slightest excitatory response in your brain and causes headaches.
7. Decreased sexual desire
Cortisol acts as an anti-libido hormone. High levels of stress hormones cause low secretion of sex hormones such as testosterone.
8. Digestive problems
The digestive system responds very sensitively to stress hormones, such as cortisol. High levels of stress hormones can cause nausea, heartburn, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation.
Cortisol and adrenaline are hormones that cause shivering, stomach irritation, panic attacks and even paranoia. Therefore, they can trigger anxiety.
10. Feeling bad in general
High cortisol levels cause low serotonin production, which can make you feel depressed and depressed.
Ways to reduce cortisol levels
The best way to reduce your cortisol levels is to control your stress levels and try to balance your sympathetic nervous system. The following tips can help you reduce your cortisol:
Watch your diet
By eating a balanced diet of healthy and non-industrial foods you can effectively reduce your cortisol levels. Such as salmon, dark chocolate, garlic, olive oil, turmeric, green tea and chamomile tea Add food to your menu. These are foods that nourish and protect your brain while lowering your cortisol levels.
Prebiotic rich foods are also recommended. These are foods that help grow good bacteria in the gut and they also play an important role in brain health. Taking prebiotic food lowers cortisol levels and improves mood. Prebiotic foods include asparagus, bananas, barley, leeks, garlic, lentils, onions and tomatoes.
On the other hand, sugar and caffeine use should be reduced or even stopped, which are two substances that increase cortisol levels. Many people eat sugar and caffeine to relax. But sugar causes the release of certain hormones that can last for hours. Coffee, energy drinks and cola supply caffeine to the body, which stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete more cortisol. Regular caffeine intake can increase blood cortisol levels by more than 2 times compared to caffeine-free foods.
Only one-fourth of the caffeine content in coffee is found in green tea. It contains L-theanine and EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which help to relax the body.
As soon as you exercise, the body releases the accumulated stress, so exercise helps to reduce cortisol. Exercise increases the body’s resilience and confidence and thus successfully neutralizes potential culprits which lowers cortisol levels. Any exercise you enjoy is a great way to reduce cortisol levels. Every day you can walk, go to the gym or go swimming.
Take a deep breath to lower your cortisol levels
You must have noticed that in a stressful situation your rib cage is compressed and you start breathing fast and fresh. These are actually the body’s automatic response to stress. Most adults do not breathe properly most of the time. It triggers a response in the body that maintains a stable state of stress. However, by consciously breathing through your stomach, you can maintain control and reduce your body’s response to stress.
It takes just a few minutes of abdominal breathing to lower your cortisol levels and calm down. Be sure to rest your chest while breathing on your stomach and breathe through your stomach instead. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen to better control your breathing. By learning to breathe better to reduce your stress, you can turn a natural process into a true cortisol reduction technique.
Click: 3 simple breathing exercises will help you manage stress
Connect with others
Studies show a link between social isolation and increased cortisol levels. It is thought that individuals who are prone to mental health problems and are socially isolated during adolescence have a higher risk of abnormal behavior in the future. Studies show that social connectivity is important for physical and mental health at all ages. Family ties, friendships and intimate relationships have a beneficial effect on stress and therefore lower cortisol levels.
It has been repeated by many experts that laughter is the best medicine. Studies show that laughter is inextricably linked with physical and mental health. One of the benefits of laughter is that it positively affects stress hormone levels. Research shows that humor, laughter and feelings of comfort help lower levels of cortisol and other stress hormones.
Adjust your sleep
Inadequate sleep regularly causes the body to react negatively. The body becomes prone to cognitive impairment and becomes more responsive to the environment. This is a very bad situation for stress. Therefore, it is important to establish a sleep routine. Sleep experts recommend going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends. It is also important that the bedroom is reserved for sleep-related activities only. That is, you should not have devices like tablets, mobile phones, televisions or computers inside.
Listen to music
Almost everyone has felt the positive effects of listening to music in the mood. We usually feel much better when we listen to our favorite songs. There is a chemical reason for this. Music increases the amount of endorphins in happiness hormones and reduces stress.