Get The Right Amount Of Sleep
Prioritizing your sleep may be an effective way to reduce cortisol levels. Chronic sleep issues such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, or shift work have been associated with higher cortisol .
One review of 28 studies in shift workers found that cortisol levels were higher in workers who slept during the day rather than at night .
Those on rotating shifts have been linked with poorer health outcomes, such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and worsened mental health (
Practicing good sleep hygiene can help to keep cortisol in a normal rhythm. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine 6 hours before bed, and staying off your cell phone right before bed are effective strategies.
Add More Soluble Fiber To Your Diet
Soluble fiber may help reduce belly fat since it increases satiety and prevents overeating.
Research also suggests that soluble fiber can reduce the number of calories your body stores from your meals.
Researchers in this study found that participants reduced belly fat gain by 3.7 percent, for every 10-gram increase in consumption of soluble fiber, over a period of five years.
Remember to eat high-fiber foods in every meal. Flaxseeds, legumes, avocados, and Brussels sprouts are excellent sources of soluble fiber.
Natural Ways To Lower Cortisol Levels
There are several things that you can do to lower your stress levels, reduce the effects of stress on the body, and improve your overall health and well-being. Here are some common ways to help rebalance your cortisol and promote good health.
- Sleep When you sleep, how much sleep you get, and the quality of your sleep all impact your cortisol levels. We recommend keeping a consistent sleep schedule, creating an environment for uninterrupted sleep , turning off electronics an hour before bedtime, and avoiding caffeine in the evening can help you get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, which will help decrease your cortisol.
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How To Lower Cortisol Levels Naturally 6 Steps
You can greatly help manage cortisol levels and regain your health by changing your diet, exercise routine, sleep and stress levels. Assuming you havent been diagnosed with Cushings disease by your doctor, here are steps you can take to help lower high cortisol levels naturally:
1. Switch to a Whole Foods, Anti-inflammatory Diet
Poorly managed blood sugar levels and high levels of inflammation can contribute to high cortisol levels and other hormonal imbalances. Following an anti-inflammatory diet low in processed foods and high in antioxidants, fiber and essential nutrients is key to balancing hormones, controlling your cravings and getting you on the right track. These same strategies can also help with adrenal support, allowing you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, boosting energy during the day and helping you sleep better at night.
Some of the most significant dietary contributors to inflammation and high cortisol levels include:
- high-sugar, high-glycemic diet
- consuming high amounts of refined and trans fats
- drinking too much caffeine and alcohol
- experiencing insufficient intake of micronutrients and antioxidants
- not consuming enough fiber
- not consuming enough healthy fats or protein
2. Reduce and Manage Stress
Fortunately, stress management is something you can begin without too much trouble. The natural stress relievers listed below are proven to help lower cortisol and decrease the negative impact stress has on your health:
3. Exercise Regularly
Avoid Or Limit Alcohol Intake When You’re Stressed
Because alcohol often puts people at ease and makes them feel relaxed, you might think that it has the ability to lower cortisol levels. In fact, the exact opposite is true. A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that men who had just one drink a week saw a three percent rise in their cortisol levels, and those levels can be even higher if you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure.
“We see people using alcohol to help relax however, alcohol is a depressant. While yes, in the moment you may feel ‘better,’ alcohol causes several issues that appear later on,” says Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, who serves on the advisory board for Smart Healthy Living.
“Also, alcohol can also depress your mood. Couple a depressed mood with stress and you may find yourself in a terrible rut,” she adds. “Alcohol can also disrupt deep sleep, so not only will you be hungover after a night of drinking, but you may also feel sick and lack a good night’s sleep!”
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Get A Good Nights Sleep
Sleep deprivation increases cortisol, particularly the evening after the lack of sleep has occurred. Cortisol is produced by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is also responsible for regulating sleep cycles. If the HPA axis is activated by stress, illness, or poor nutrition, it can have a knock-on effect on your sleep and subsequent stress hormone levels.
The best way to ensure you get restful sleep is to incorporate good sleep hygiene. Make your bedroom a peaceful environment by limiting things that disrupt your sleep, like noise and light. Blackout curtains, an eye mask, earplugs, or a noise machine can help.
Add Adaptogen Herbs To Your Diet
Adaptogen herbs can help lower your cortisol levels by reducing inflammation and balancing hormones. In fact, these herbs have strong antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral properties that fight off all sorts of diseases.
Use these adaptogenic herbs to regulate your cortisol levels:
- Medicinal mushrooms
Now, you dont have to go out and buy all these herbs, you can get all their ingredients in this superfood green juice.
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How To Prevent Future Health Issues
Although decreasing your stress levels may feel impossible some days, you can still manage the effects of elevated cortisol. To begin with, practicing relaxation through mindfulness, meditation, yoga or deep breathing can help bring the production of this hormone back down to normal levels.
Youll also prevent the excess storage of empty calories by ensuring that you consume a diet high in quality foods. Even though your body may be craving a quick fix, aim to eat mostly whole, plant-based foods. Of course, making the decision to eat right isnt always easy, but its worth it. By monitoring your diet, the calories you consume will be turned into energy, not converted into fat and stored by the body.
Finally, exercise is an excellent way to manage your stress hormones too. Whether you go out for a run, take a daily walk with your family or hit the gym, exercising will help maintain your lean body mass. This is especially important during prolonged periods of high cortisol levels.
High Cortisol Vs Lower Cortisol Levels
The amount of cortisol in the body generally peaks in the early morning and decreases as the day goes on. Abnormally high levels of cortisol in the body can be caused by some steroid medications or underlying health issues.
Chronic or toxic stress can also be a factor that causes unusually high levels of cortisol.
In a state of constant stress, cortisol levels remain elevated and lead to problems with anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances among other symptoms.
These types of problems are a major reason why many people turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate their symptoms, which can lead to substance use disorders and the need for treatment.
Learning how to reduce cortisol levels naturally is a much healthier response than turning to substances to deal with stress ad anxiety.
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Cortisol And Sleep: Why Cant I Get Deep Relaxing Sleep
Having trouble falling asleep? Sleeping 8 hours but still waking up feeling groggy and moody? Maybe youre dead tired but as soon as your head hits the pillow your brain starts asking WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!? Too much cortisol in the bloodstream makes it hard for you to fall asleep, and sleep deprivation leads to moodiness, fatigue, brain fog, and worse.
How to start feeling like a morning person: Check out our guide on magnesium and sleep to balance your magnesium intake and start getting deep, restful sleep.
So get thisyour cortisol levels should follow a natural arc. They should be highest an hour or two after you wake up, elevating your testosterone and giving you the energy you need to take on the world and conquer that overstuffed inbox. Then, they should decrease at night, helping you relax and drift off to dreamland where youll meet supermodels you have zero chance with.
But, when theres no variation in cortisol , your hormones, body, and brain dont know what to do or what time it is. Instead of following a natural rhythm and sleeping in the evening, you start laying in bed with racing thoughts, waking up in the middle of the night, or never achieving deep sleep.
Dont take our word for it listen to this extremely smart woman at a prestigious university. Tell them how it is, Em:
Reducing Your Cortisol Levels
When you reduce your stress, your cortisol levels will also decrease.
To lower your stress, you may need to focus on your mind and body. By doing so, your brain will feel less threatened, and itll tell your adrenal gland to lower your cortisol levels.
Follow these eight tips to manage stressful symptoms:
- Nourish your body with healthier food choices.
- Reduce your caffeine and alcohol consumption.
- Streamline your daily to-do list and say no more often.
- Go outdoors and enjoy nature.
- Practice deep breathing and meditation, even if its for five minutes.
- Reach out to your family, friends, a therapist and social support system.
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Eat A Healthy Breakfast
Starting your day off with the right foods can play a major role in how your body operates throughout the day. Your body is fasting while you sleep, but its also fulfilling some metabolic needs like cell growth and repair. This is why cortisol levels are often the highest when you wake up.
Providing the body with a filling, nutritious breakfast will give it the nutrients it needs to lower cortisol levels, while also giving it the proper energy it needs to fuel itself throughout the entire day.
Cut Out Caffeine Or Consume Less
A 2005 study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that caffeine increases cortisol secretion even in people at rest. Because caffeine can stimulate cortisol production and increase blood pressure, Krista King, MS, RDN, of Composed Nutrition, offers a solution to lower cortisol: “Try doing a caffeine reset. Gradually you have each day by swapping it out for a caffeine-free or lower caffeine alternative.”
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Exercise But Not Too Much
Depending on the intensity of exercise, it can increase or decrease cortisol.
Intense exercise increases cortisol shortly afterward but will decrease a few hours later. This short-term increase helps coordinate growth of the body to meet the challenge. Additionally, the size of the cortisol response lessens with routine training .
Regular exercise has been shown in numerous studies to help improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and improve overall health, which can help lower cortisol over time .
Interestingly, regular exercise has also been associated with greater resilience to acute stress and may lower negative health effects associated with stress, such as high cortisol .
That said, overdoing it can have the opposite effect. Therefore, aim for around 150200 minutes of mostly low- to moderate-intensity exercise each week and allow yourself time to rest between workouts.
Exercising regularly can help you better manage stress and promote good health, which may help lower cortisol levels. That said, avoid overdoing it and aim for around 150200 minutes of low- to moderate- intensity exercise each week.
Scale Down The Stress Levels
Stress management is the other half of the equation when solving the question of how to lower cortisol naturally for optimal wellness. It can be as simple as spending time in nature or reading a book to lower stress.
For the most part, science recommends mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques like progressive muscle relaxation â tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups â and diaphragmatic breathing, which features deep breathing exercises.
You may also wish to try mind-body interventions like tai chi and qigong to promote relaxation and lessen tension. A 2018 systematic review also advocates for regular physical activity against stress. According to the review, staying fit means youâre more likely to reduce your cortisol and heart rate reactivity. You will also experience less anxiety, more calmness, and a better mood. Not to mention, exercising has the added bonus of encouraging weight loss, which, for the overweight, can aid with getting sufficient sleep. Just make sure you donât work out right before you sleep.
Other stress-reduction techniques you may wish to try:
No matter which stress reduction tactics you choose, itâs imperative that you prioritize them in the latter half of the day. Perhaps you can fit in a workout session before dinner and segue into your evening wind-down afterward. Because everyoneâs wind-down routine looks different, the “Evening routineâ habit in the RISE app lets you build it the way you want.
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How To Lower Cortisol: Decrease Your Stress Levels And Lose Weight
Stress is part and parcel of everyday life and something that we must all contend with, whether we like it or not. Elevated stress levels lead to the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Despite cortisol being an essential hormone that helps with many important functions in the body, chronically increased levels of it can lead to many undesirable symptoms in the body.
Figuring out how to lower stress and cortisol is not only good for your overall health, but it is also quite essential for your mental health too. If you have been unsuccessfully trying to get rid of all the side effects of cortisol, read on to find simple but effective ways of doing this.
Probiotics To Lower Cortisol
The human gut microbiome is home to trillions of bacterial cells which have major benefits for your health. They keep your gut barrier strong, combat inflammation, modulate the immune system, and even help regulate mental health. Thats why boosting the composition of your gut is important.
Probiotic bacteria may help reduce cortisol and stress. For example, bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus and L. farciminis lower the release of cortisol caused by stress. One strain of Lactobacillus, known as L. Plantarum 299v, was shown to reduce exam stress in irritable bowel syndrome patients.
Probiotic foods that nourish gut bacteria, such as yoghurt drinks and fermented soy products that contain specific lactic acid bacteria strains, may help to reduce stress-induced elevated cortisol levels. Some of these bacteria also relieve symptoms of IBS and the stress associated with living with a chronic illness.
TIP Want to find out how diverse your gut microbiome is? Take the Atlas Microbiome Test.
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Identify The Causes Of Cortisol
High cortisol levels can have several different effects on health conditions, and may include life-threatening symptoms like increased blood pressure, decreased bone density, and impaired cognitive function.
However, cortisol levels can become elevated in times of stress, such as during periods of prolonged illness or after experiencing a traumatic event.
While cortisol is a necessary hormone, high levels can have negative effects on health. Therefore, it is important to identify the causes of high levels to protect ones stressful situations.
Several different factors can lead to it. One common cause of high levels is mental stress.
When an individual is constantly under stress, their body uses higher levels of cortisol to deal with the perceived threat.
Additionally, certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can also lead to elevated cortisol levels.
Finally, some medical conditions, such as Cushings Syndrome, can cause the body to produce too much cortisol. Cushings Syndrome can also make you fat especially from the neck, chest, and tummy.
If left untreated, high levels can have serious consequences for health. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the causes of high cortisol levels.
Correcting Your Cortisol Level
If you suspect that your cortisol level may be making it more difficult to lose weight, a healthcare practitioner with expertise in hormonal health could provide the guidance you need. There is no foolproof way of regulating your cortisol levels on an ongoing basis on your own but with the support of an experienced practitioner, you can find a set of lifestyle strategies and therapeutic interventions that may rectify your cortisol issues and help you accomplish your weight goals.
When you work with a qualified practitioner, such as those in the BodyLogicMD network, theyll test your cortisol levels to identify any abnormalities. If your cortisol levels are lower than they should be for someone of your age and lifestyle, your practitioner may prescribe bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to treat your hormonal imbalance. Using bioidentical hormones, your body will get the cortisol that it needs for optimal health. While cortisol replacement wont be the only technique you need to lose weight, it may help you achieve more meaningful results. Meanwhile, if you have high cortisol levels, your practitioner can work with you to find effective medical and lifestyle interventions that reduce stress and lower cortisol. They can also help you identify and address any other factors that may be influencing your weight, such as perimenopause, menopause, andropause, or a thyroid disorder.
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Is Cortisol Affecting Your Ability To Lose Weight
Youre eating right. Youre drinking plenty of water. Your protein levels are high, and youre staying active and working out regularly. So why arent you losing weight, no matter what you do?
In todays society, one thing many women have in common is chronic stress levels. Weve become used to living constantly on the edge, burnout being the norm, with little respite for our body and mind to relax and restore. Stress can be detrimental to our health in all sorts of ways but it can also be at the root of stubborn weight loss.