We possibly chant stress more than we even realize in a day. Owing to the impending deadlines, work pressure, responsibilities, we find ourselves catching a moment for a quick breather. But, in order to lower our cortisol levels and in turn, our stress, we need to delve more into the mechanics.
There are possible prospects that could be a contributing factor to the high levels of cortisol in the body. But, it is very important to balance cortisol levels for a healthier lifestyle.
In this article, we are going to be discussing everything there is to know about the high cortisol levels of treatment. From the foods that reduce cortisol naturally to the various lifestyle changes that can inflict positive impacts on the body.
What is Cortisol?
Otherwise often known as the stress hormone, cortisol is a steroid hormone belonging to the glucocorticoid class of hormones. This is the primary hormone responsible for the levels of stress in our body.
While that is often judged as the primary function of the hormone, the activity of this particular hormone has the potency to influence the subsequent activities of the other associated hormones in the body.
Cortisol is released from the adrenal gland where it is produced in the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex. The hormone is predominantly secreted by the gland when triggered by stress and the low levels of glucose in the bloodstream.
While this hormone does play a crucial role in the functionality of the body, it is also often responsible for affecting the overall body homeostasis when the levels in the bloodstream rise above the normal levels.
High cortisol levels for prolonged periods of time can be a very disastrous condition for the overall body functions.
What are the Causes of High Cortisol Levels?
When it comes to the salient causes behind the heightened levels of the cortisol levels, majority of the people tend to only correlate the increased stress as the possible reason. While it most definitely is one of them, the list of causes behind the high cortisol levels doesn’t just stop there.
Some of the common reasons behind the high cortisol levels in the body include:
- Heightened levels of stress for the persistent amount of time
- Cushing’s Syndrome
- Dysfunctional adrenal function
- Persistent lower levels of glucose in the body
Symptoms of High Cortisol Levels
When it comes to how to lower cortisol levels, you first need to be assured that what is affecting your health is related to the whacky levels of cortisol in your body. The best way to go about with the same is by understanding the symptoms of high cortisol levels.
Some of the common symptoms of high cortisol levels include:
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- Weakness in the muscle and joints
- A flushed appearance on the face for the prolonged time
- Dryness in the throat and a persistent feeling of thirst
- Diuretic actions
- Constant mood swings where you may feel low one second and chirpy the next
- Weight gain, especially around the face and abdominal region
- Unknown bruises or purple stretch marks on the skin
- Affected libido
How To Lower Cortisol Levels?
When it comes to the treatment for high cortisol levels, one can effectively achieve the same with the natural remedies. If the same doesn’t work out in the first, that’s when you can opt for the over the counter prescribed medication to keep the condition in check.
In this section, we are going to be discussing some of the natural remedies for cortisol levels regulation in the body.
1. Get some proper sleep
Not just the amount of time but even the quality of the sleep plays a very crucial role to remove cortisol from the body naturally. If you had a restless sleep, chances are that it won’t be that effective.
Study (R) has shown that one of the most common and primary reasons behind the overdrive of the cortisol levels in the body is because of the lack of sleep throughout the night.
Ensure that you get good quality sleep (R) at night to balance cortisol levels in the body effectively.
2. Relax at times
There won’t be any kind of shortages of triggers for your stress. Even the smallest of triggers can make you frantic and agitated with stress.
The most important thing to do in such situations is to ensure that you keep those heightened levels of stress in check. Understand those triggers and try and relax properly.
Relaxing and the mode one chooses to lower cortisol levels fast depends on the person practicing it. Many experts suggest breathing techniques as a great way to lower down the extrapolated levels of cortisol in the body.
Choose your own mode of relaxation and try to distance yourself from the source of the stress.
3. Limited exercise
One of the most effective methods of how to lower cortisol levels lies in effective exercises. But, even over exaggeration of the physical activity can often contribute to adverse effects on the body.
While the intense muscle exercises (R) tend to abruptly increase the levels of cortisol in the body right after the exercise, there have been reports that it helps in combating and lowering the cortisol levels during the night.
Indulge in light to moderate range of exercising (R) if you want to experience the best results when it comes to reduce cortisol levels naturally.
4. Have Some Fun
As unrealistic or cliché it might sound, having fun can be an amazing way to lower cortisol levels fast. As mentioned before, one of the most common triggers from the heightened secretion of the cortisol from the adrenal glands.
When you switch the feeling of stress with something fun (R) and happy, the excess rush of serotonin and dopamine are believed to overwhelm the presence of cortisol which helps in maintaining a proper level of the hormones for improved body functions.
Having fun and being happy actually does help you maintain a proper blood pressure level too which further keeps the body and mind healthy and sound.
5. Get a pet
You can never go wrong with pet therapy. These furry friends can help you in multiple ways that you possibly didn’t even know of. From helping cope with the stress levels to boosting your levels of happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin in the body, even just a cuddle with your pet can help you feel a lot better mentally.
Even studies (R) have shown the influence that pet therapy has on people who tend to have heightened levels of stress and anxiety. Apart from that, there have been significant studies showing the importance of how contact with dogs tends to have better impacts on one’s overall mental health over the normal grounds of talking it out with friends.
Non-pet owners when were introduced to pets were successfully able to reduce cortisol levels naturally without any negative implications on their bodies.
6. Hook Yourself Up With a Hobby
Hobbies can be anything outside of your common realm of work that intrigues and interests you. If you are on the lookout for something to distract your mind from, taking up a hobby is actually quite a good option to look into.
It is believed that the addition of hobbies to a lifestyle can make a person feel more fulfilled and accomplished.
In a conducted study (R) on a group of substance abusers, it was found that there was a substantial decrease in the levels of cortisol in their bloodstream when they indulged in activities such as that of gardening. Taking up a hobby is also believed to improve one’s quality of life as well.
7. Laugh more
We are so winded up with the daily course of our work and lifestyle that we forget to sometimes live for a moment or two. Laughing and not the fabricated one, but the real one, is believed to contribute a lot to our body’s stress levels.
When you are genuinely happy and don’t have impending stress (R) weighing you down, it is quite common that there won’t be any trigger for the cortisol to be released from the adrenal gland. This is what is believed to help with the high cortisol levels treatment in successfully bringing it back to normal.
8. Listen to music
As cliché as it might sound like, music actually does have positive effects on your overall stress levels. Music is believed to be therapeutic and does actually have a calming effect (R) on our overall body and well being.
If you have been experiencing situational stress (R) because of a big upcoming event, one of the best ways to combat the same is by switching on a therapeutic and melodious song in the background and plug in some earphones.
Aside from listening to music, even dancing has been believed to have positive impacts on one’s overall stress levels and helps to lower cortisol levels fast without any issue.
9. Incline towards your spiritual side
There are several people who believe in the spiritual aspect of a situation and if you are one of them, developing your spiritual side can actually help in the treatment for high cortisol levels.
Even study has shown that people who had a better connection with their spiritual side experienced lesser spikes in their levels of stress and in turn, cortisol levels.
It was proved in a study (R) (R) that the social support people got from the faith based groups actually did have better impacts on the overall process of lowering of the cortisol levels in the body. Praying (R) and meditation is believed to even help balance cortisol levels.
10. Surround yourself with good people
The kind of company you surround yourself with is believed to be one of the primary reasons behind your mental health and stress levels.
If you have been diagnosed to have heightened levels of cortisol, it is necessary to ensure that the people around you help better than the condition and not negatively contribute (R) to the same.
It is quite beneficial to have good and healthy relationships (R) in your life if you successfully want to reduce cortisol levels naturally. It has been witnessed that the worsened condition of the cortisol levels is mostly spiked and heightened because of the kind of strain we have in the relationships (R) we mostly reach out for.
11. Have a healthy bedtime routine
Bedtime routines are often deemed boring and “not necessary” but what majority of the people tend to not understand is the fact that having a regular bedtime routine is actually very beneficial in getting a proper night’s sleep.
Some of the best activities to include in the bedtime routine for better sleep is to keep away phones and other electronics away. Apart from that, ensure to keep the lights to a bare minimum to ensure that you have a proper night’s sleep.
Lack of blue light exposure is believed to have heightened impacts on the overall levels of melatonin in the body which inadvertently impacts the overall cortisol levels in the body.
Social connectivity is actually a very important factor that contributes to the overall levels of cortisol in the body. Being out and about with your friends is believed to induce better flow of hormones in the body and keeps the levels of stress to a bare minimum.
Not just the prospect of fun and excitement, a study has even shown that the heightened levels of social support from people are actually a beneficial factor that influences to lower cortisol levels.
Diet plan to Lower Cortisol Levels
Yet another factor that plays a huge role to balance cortisol levels in our body is our daily diet and lifestyle. Any kind of unnecessary munching can be a contributing factor to the altered levels cortisol in the body.
In this section, we are going to walk you through some of the types of foods that reduce cortisol levels naturally.
Foods to Eat
13. Dark Chocolate
One of the most common foods that are known to have beneficial impacts to reduce cortisol levels naturally is dark chocolate. Dark chocolates are loaded with beneficial levels of flavonols and plant polyphenols which are quite rich in antioxidants.
The heightened levels of antioxidants (R) from the chocolate helps in combating the oxidative stress in the body which further aids to remove cortisol from the body naturally.
Many people who consume chocolate when they are stressed have reported feeling relaxed following its consumption.
Apart from that, dark chocolate as helps in boosting the release of growth hormone in the brain.
14. Drink tea regularly
Yet another one of the factors concerning one’s diet that does help contribute to the lowered levels of cortisol in the body is by drinking green tea. Green tea (R) is believed to prohibit the synthesis of cortisol altogether which can be ghastly too at times.
Switch to drinking green tea on a regular basis which has also been scientifically proven to have beneficial impacts to lower cortisol levels.
The presence of theanine (an amino acid) in both the green and black tea is believed to have cortisol lowering impacts on the body. Theanine (R) has the capability of crossing the blood brain barrier to trigger the activity of GABA and dopamine in the brain which relaxes and soothes the mind and body.
15. Consume Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The consumption of olive oil to lower stress levels is definitely not something you would normally come across, right?
The only catch in this is to ensure that you source the best quality extra virgin oil and not the cheap variant.
16. Chew gum
As weird as it might sound, chewing gum, especially the aspartame-free gum is believed to have beneficial impacts on the stress levels in the body.
Chewing gum not just helps improve and boost your overall cognitive functions but simultaneously aids to lower cortisol levels in the body.
In a conducted study, it was found the chewing gum was successful in reducing the levels of cortisol in the body by 12% in the subjects which is pretty amazing.
17. Have a balanced diet
Maintaining a balanced diet (R) is key to reduce cortisol levels naturally in the body. Ensuring that your food contains ample amount of carbohydrates, proteins as well as other necessary nutrients is beneficial for the overall proper functioning of the body.
When your diet and metabolism (R) is in sync, there is no doubt that the same is going to impact your overall levels of cortisol and keep a balance of the other hormones in the body.
Apart from the normal grounds of food, even water and hydration does play a very crucial role in deducing proper balance of the cortisol levels in the body.
18. Improve the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids
Yet another one of the foods that reduce cortisol levels naturally is the abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are quite essential to induce proper functioning of the brain and neural activity in the body.
Apart from that, it is also believed that the consumption of these are directly tied with lowering of the cortisol levels in the body.
While this has been believed to have a positive impact, the excess consumption of omega-6 fatty acids have completely opposite impacts on the body by increasing the secretion of the cortisol in the body.
19. Consume more antioxidants
Antioxidants are one of the most important components that help to lower cortisol levels in the body. The same is believed to combat any form of free radical damage in the body which has negative implications in boosting the overall oxidative stress in the body.
Varying sources of Vitamin C and other kinds of vitamins and other food compounds are believed to have direct sources of antioxidants.
For a healthy lifestyle, increase the intake of berries and other antioxidant-rich foods.
20. Consume Curcumin
Curcumin is yet another one of the compounds that has a positive influence on the body. If you are here being confused as to what this is, it is the active compound present in turmeric.
Not only does it have beneficial anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, but it also helps in calming down the nerves and is beneficial in the treatment for high cortisol levels (R) in the body.
Drink turmeric milk before bedtime for a peaceful night’s sleep and the same can actually be quite helpful in managing the stress that has been constantly eating you up.
Foods to avoid
21. Avoid Caffeine at night
As mentioned before, caffeine is one of the most common factors that go into keeping you wide awake at night. Sleep is beneficial when it comes to balancing the cortisol levels in the body. If your stress and cortisol levels are at peak, it is best to avoid drinking any form of caffeine in the night before bedtime.
Instead of drinking coffee or even tea, stick to drinking turmeric milk for a better night’s sleep.
22. Avoid alcohol
If you tend to be on the edge all the time because of stress and excess levels of cortisol in the body, it is best to avoid alcohol. While the common thought would be that it is best to simply rely on the alcohol to wash all the stress away, it doesn’t necessarily help in the same.
Alcohol has the capability to often suppress your system which is not something favourable when you are already suffering from the condition of heightened levels of cortisol in the body.
What Are The Effects Of High Cortisol Levels?
When the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream are more than what it should be, the number of complications surrounding the same is profound. Some of the most common types of side effects or consequences of heightened levels of cortisol in the bloodstream include:
- Increase blood pressure or hypertension
- Type-II Diabetes
- Unprecedented weight gain, especially in the face and the abdominal region
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Hair loss
- Affected cognitive functions and brain functions on the whole
- Infections is caused because of an impaired immune system
How To Prevent High Cortisol Levels?
When it comes to the subject of how to prevent high cortisol levels, the answer is quite short and to the point. It is very important to ensure that you don’t let the triggers affect you.
Stress is one of the most common triggers when it comes to the heightened levels of cortisol in the body. If you are on the lookout for natural ways to successfully prevent the high levels of cortisol, it is important to ensure that you distance yourself from situations that could possibly end up contributing to the condition.
Try and engage yourself with activities that necessarily keep your mind clear and happy rather than the complete opposite of it.
Minimal yet effective changes to one’s overall diet and lifestyle do have a very impactful benefit in keeping the levels of cortisol in check.
Food for thought with some FAQs
1. Why are cortisol levels high in the morning?
A. The heightened levels of cortisol in the bloodstream during morning are mainly witnessed in people suffering from excessive stress and lack of sleep. Improper sleep throughout the day often ends up causing a rise in the cortisol levels in the bloodstream.
2. What is the normal range of cortisol in the blood?
A. The normal range of cortisol in the blood is 6 and 23 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL).
When it comes to opting for ways to lower cortisol levels, it is important to opt for the ones that provide with effective results within a record time. Persistent and prolonged rise in the levels of cortisol in the blood stream is believed to inflict negative impacts on the body. Heightened levels of cortisol can inflict negative impacts on other body activities, so ensure that you keep that in check.