Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in our body within the adrenal gland and is released in to the body in times of stress. This is the fight or flight hormone that warns us of dangerous situations and while it is not necessarily bad for us, in fact, it can be quite good sometimes, excess amounts of it can be very dangerous to our health. Here are some tips on how to reduce cortisol.
The minor (relatively) side effects of cortisol includes a reduction in muscle mass (cortisol is catabolic) and an increase in fat storage while the major side effects can include a weakened immune system, poor glucose utilization, osteoporosis and even death. You become vulnerable to diseases and also become prone to diabetes.
So how do we reduce Cortisol?
Learn to Manage Stress
Stress is the biggest factor which contributes to the release of cortisol and if you live in the 21st century, chances are you are bombarded by stress on an almost daily basis. Whether its stress from your job, from being stuck in traffic, from your family or for whatever reason, stressful situations are all around us and it is extremely important that we learn to manage it before takes away all our happiness and eventually kills us.
Learn to relax more and to not take things so seriously all the time (I know, easier said than done). It helps to plan out your day in advance so that you can foresee any hindrances and plan ahead.
Another thing that has helped me to relax more is to do some breathing exercises 3-4 times a day. I start first thing in the morning, then sometime after lunch, in the evening and just before bed. Just breathe in as much as you can for 5 seconds, hold for 20 seconds and breathe out slowly for 10 seconds. Repeat this 5-10 times and you will be in a much better and relaxed state. If you can’t hold for your breath 20 seconds, then start with 10 and work your way up.
Things like yoga and meditation are also great ways to manage stress.
Supplements such as Vitamin C have been found in various studies to reduce the levels of Cortisol.
Aim for at least 1,000-3,000 grams of Vitamin C a day.
Other supplements such as Omega 3s and B-Complex vitamins are also known to help reduce Cortisol.
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We all know how important sleep is for us but sleeping less than 7 hours daily can really wreak havoc on our hormonal system. Aim for at least 7-9 hours a day. If it’s not possible at night, then try to at least get a nap in.
Caffeine (sadly) has a negative impact on your cortisol. One cup of coffee can elevate your Cortisol levels by up to 30% within an hour of its consumption. Reducing your caffeine intake can stabilize your Cortisol levels and give your adrenal glands some much needed rest. Increasing consumption of complex carbohydrates, vegetables and lean proteins also helps to stabilize blood sugar and normalize Cortisol levels.