Treating Stress: Supplements To Reduce Cortisol
Vitamin B complex, especially vitamin B6 and folic acid, help to reduce work stress and improve your mood. Legumes, fish, walnuts, yeast and soy are rich in these vitamins.
Zinc supplements are also ideal supplements to reduce cortisol levels, as it reduces the secretion of cortisol. Oysters contain lots of zinc. Edam and Emmental cheese, as well as chicken eggs, are also ideal sources of zinc.
To find out more about foods with zinc and its health benefits, head over to our dedicated article.
Besides taking supplements to reduce cortisol such as zinc and vitamin B, you should definitely optimise your vitamin C levels. Peppers, citrus fruits and berries are rich in vitamin C, which significantly helps regulate cortisol levels. Eat them fresh, as vitamin C is easily broken down by heat and exposure to sunlight. Finally, other supplements you might take for mental balance and stress relief might include vitamin D, l-tryptophan and vitamin B12.
Released To Handle Stress Cortisol Is An Important Hormone But When Levels Get Too High It Can Be Tough On Your Body
by Health Writer
Got stress? Who doesnt these daysand its no surprise that an overabundance of stress, particularly when its chronically elevated, can on your body and emotions. Still, some stress isnt necessarily a bad thing: Elevated levels of anxiety trigger the release of hormones related to the stress response, and one of those hormones, called cortisol, plays an important role in daily functioning, helping us awake refreshed, be more focused, and maintain energy throughout the day.
The key? Regulating those cortisol levels. Because when cortisol is too high, and especially if it feels stuck in that position as it can with Cushing’s disease or Cushing’s syndrome, there can be some serious and negative health effects as a result.
High Cortisol Symptoms: What Do They Mean
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is known as the stress hormone because of its role in the bodys stress response. But cortisol is about more than just stress.
This steroid hormone is made in the adrenal glands. Most of the cells in our bodies have cortisol receptors that use cortisol for a variety of functions, including
- blood sugar regulation
- metabolism regulation
- memory formulation
Cortisol is important for your health, but too much of it can wreak havoc on your body and cause a number of unwanted symptoms.
High cortisol can cause a number of symptoms throughout your body. Symptoms can vary depending on whats causing the increase in your cortisol levels.
General signs and symptoms of too much cortisol include:
- weight gain, mostly around the midsection and upper back
- weight gain and rounding of the face
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Enjoy A Healthy Diet To Lower Cortisol Levels
Foods that can increase cortisol are refined sugars, unhealthy carbs, and saturated fats. Healthy food choices such as increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables help balance your hormones better.
The journal Advances in Nutrition reported that a poor diet can affect cortisol concentrations. This can have an impact on cognitive function and affect the HPA axis. Studies have shown that supplements such as magnesium can help to decrease the concentration of cortisol if its elevated.
If you have type 2 diabetes and show signs of excess cortisol, then enjoying a healthy diet is essential to control your symptoms.
As well as eating the right foods to help control cortisol, it is essential to drink plenty of fluids. Researchers have found that your levels of hydration can affect cortisol. When the body is dehydrated, cortisol levels increase.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Can Ibs Flare Up Due To Stress
Some studies have shown, for example, that long-term stress can increase the pain of irritable bowel syndrome and other inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis. In general, chronic stress seems to influence the perception of pain. People who are constantly under stress perceive more pain in conditions like IBS in some cases, stress may even be a trigger for chronic pain syndromes.
Have you also heard that people get stomach ulcers from stress? Its actually not that simple. Stomach ulcers are usually caused by infections with bacteria like Helicobacter pylori or by taking too many painkillers. However, stress and other lifestyle factors, such as alcohol consumption, can possibly increase the risk of ulcers and make the symptoms worse.
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How To Balance Cortisol Levels And Relieve Your Symptoms Of Chronic Stress
Cortisol is essential to health. Our bodies normally produce cortisol throughout the day in a cyclemore in the morning as we wake, less in the evening to prepare us for sleepto support our daily physical and emotional well-being. But when cortisol levels become higher or lower than normal for prolonged periods, that wellbeing can be severely compromised.
When were chronically stressed, our bodies maintain excessive levels of cortisol throughout the day. After months or years, elevated cortisol can cause serious problems across the bodys many systems. It can also lead to a suppressed HPA axis, formerly known as adrenal fatigue, where one can produce too little cortisol, which brings its own set of challenges and may require a variety of therapies to resolve. But by learning how to balance cortisol levels naturally and seeking the right care when needed, you can enjoy a calmer and healthier life.
What Causes High Cortisol Levels
Many things can cause high cortisol levels, including:
- physical and emotional stress your body can’t gauge the seriousness of a stressful situation, so something simple like a traffic jam can kick-start your stress response system, as can being ill with a cold
- medication certain medications like corticosteroids and oral contraceptives might increase your cortisol levels
- oestrogen high oestrogen levels in women, for example, in pregnancy, is linked to raised cortisol levels
- an adrenal gland tumour your adrenal glands produce cortisol, so any issues with them can affect your cortisol levels
- a pituitary gland issue an overactive pituitary gland stimulates your adrenal glands to make too much cortisol
- malnutrition for example, if you suffer from an eating disorder
Conditions like depression, diabetes, PCOS, and alcoholism are also linked to high cortisol levels.
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Are Headaches Caused By Stress
The link between stress and headaches has been investigated in numerous studies over the past decades. It is still not entirely clear if stress is a cause of headaches or if people who have frequent headaches perceive their stress more intensely. Needless to say, there are still many questions that remain unanswered when it comes to stress symptoms such as headaches.
In a German study with more than 5,000 test participants, for example, people had more frequent and more severe headaches the more intensely they felt stress. In the case of migraines, the connection was even clearer. Other studies also showed that stress could be a trigger for headaches and even the development of chronic headaches.
Some researchers now suspect that measures to reduce stress could also have a positive effect on people with constant headaches. For example, if you suffer from chronic headaches and you specifically watch out for stressful situations, you might be able to react better and use relaxation techniques or other measures early on.
How Cortisol Works In The Body
Before diving into the signs that your cortisol levels are too high, its helpful to understand the way this hormone should be working.
Cortisol is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands. It fluctuates naturally during the day and night for example, most people tend to hit their highest cortisol level in the morningwhich helps get you going after waking upand the level gradually tapers through the day until it reaches its lowest level right before bed. Thats when de-stress hormones like melatonin surge to help you fall asleep.
So what does cortisol actually do? According to Cleveland Clinic, cortisol affects almost every organ and tissue in your body, playing a major role in helping control your metabolism, , reducing inflammation, and keeping blood sugar levels steady.
Although cortisol follows a natural pattern of peaks and dips, external factors can cause cortisol to surge. If you need to leap out of the way of an oncoming car, for example, your body will spike your cortisol level to provide an energy jolt for that action, part of your fight or flight response. But stressors that are ongoing can keep your cortisol high, and that is often a problem.
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What Are Normal Cortisol Levels
The level of cortisol in your blood, urine and saliva normally peaks in the early morning and declines throughout the day, reaching its lowest level around midnight. This pattern can change if you work a night shift and sleep at different times of the day.
For most tests that measure cortisol levels in your blood, the normal ranges are:
- 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.: 10 to 20 micrograms per deciliter .
- Around 4 p.m.: 3 to 10 mcg/dL.
Normal ranges can vary from lab to lab, time to time and person to person. If you need to get a cortisol level test, your healthcare provider will interpret your results and let you know if you need to get further testing.
Signs Your Cortisol Levels Are Too High
Cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone is released by the adrenal glands in response to a stressful situation. As a rule, this natural process is helpful to keep the body operating efficiently and reacting quickly. However, cortisol can actually function as your enemy as well and too often, in todays color-coded planner, fast-paced, drive-thru world, stress is far too common. So what are some signs your cortisol levels are high, and what can you do?
Stress is bad. That much you are probably well aware of, but you may not have taken it to heart in the past. Believe it or not, the body is not designed to be under constant stress. Coristol is supposed to ebb and flow with the ups and downs of life, not flood your body in an unending stream. Here are just a few things that happen when you have too much cortisol in your body.
Back pain and headaches
High cortisol levels make the brain oversensitive to pain and can cause even the slightest twinge to lead to headaches. Plus, your adrenal glands, which help the body handle pain, can become depleted over time and cause serious issues with chronic pain, especially in the back.
You notice yourself gaining weight
Chronic fatigue or insomnia
Believe it or not, it is not normal or healthy to get a reasonable amount of sleep and still wake up feeling tired. If you had a restful night and have no other explanation for your tiredness, you could be experiencing adrenal fatigue that comes along with elevated cortisol.
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How To Lower Cortisol Levels Through Medication
Medication is only used if cortisol is needed permanently that is, over a lifetime and no other form of treatment can help like, for example, in people with Addisons disease or Cushings disease. For a long time, the drugs metyrapone, aminoglutehimide, mifepriston and ketoconazole have been used. They lower cortisol levels by inhibiting the enzyme needed for the synthesis of steroids.
Does Cortisol Increase During Periods
The level of cortisol usually increases during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Cortisol might not increase during periods, but an increase in cortisol could result in anovulation and longer cycles.
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What Do High Cortisol Levels Mean
A high cortisol level can mean several things.
High cortisol may be referred to as Cushing syndrome. This condition results from your body making too much cortisol. .
Some common symptoms of Cushing syndrome include:
- fatty deposits in the midsection, face, or between the shoulders
- purple stretch marks
Several things can contribute to the development of high cortisol.
Signs And Symptoms Of Too Much Stress
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain caused by adverse circumstances.
At one point or another, most people deal with feelings of stress. In fact, one study found that 33% of adults reported experiencing high levels of perceived stress (
The condition is associated with a long list of physical and mental symptoms.
This article will look at 11 common signs and symptoms of stress.
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How Does It Work
Your hypothalamus and pituitary gland — both located in your brain — can sense if your blood contains the right level of cortisol. If the level is too low, your brain adjusts the amount of hormones it makes. Your adrenal glands pick up on these signals. Then, they fine-tune the amount of cortisol they release.
Cortisol receptors — which are in most cells in your body — receive and use the hormone in different ways. Your needs will differ from day to day. For instance, when your body is on high alert, cortisol can alter or shut down functions that get in the way. These might include your digestive or reproductive systems, your immune system, or even your growth processes.
Sometimes, your cortisol levels can get out of whack.
How Does Cortisol Affect The Menstrual Cycle
Stress can make your periods heavier, show up late, or stop altogether.
The main reason why stress affects your menstrual cycle is because of hormones. The release of stress hormones, or cortisol, can suppress normal levels of reproductive hormones, potentially leading to abnormal ovulation, anovulation, or amenorrhea.
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How Does It Happen
The body system that controls hormone production is the endocrine system.
Within this system, the glands work together and produce different types of hormones.
The hormones that one gland produces can directly affect the hormone production of other glands.
These glands include the adrenal glands, pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, pancreas, ovaries, and testicles.
The adrenal glands are just above the kidneys. They produce cortisol, along with other hormones. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, and it is the major natural glucocorticoid in humans.
Cortisol helps to regulate how the body turns proteins, carbohydrates, and fat from food into energy.
It also helps to control blood pressure and blood glucose levels and to maintain cardiovascular function. It can suppress the immune system, and it affects how the body responds to stress.
When cortisol levels are persistently high, Cushings syndrome can result.
Genetic factors may play a role in some cases, but Cushings syndrome and Cushings disease do not appear to run in families.
There are two types of Cushings syndrome.
What The Test Addresses
A dexamethasone suppression test measures how your cortisol levels are affected by taking dexamethasone. Dexamethasone is a manmade corticosteroid similar to one produced naturally by your adrenal glands. Its prescribed to replace the natural chemical if your body isnt producing enough of it. It may also be prescribed as an anti-inflammatory agent thats used to treat arthritis and various blood, kidney, and eye disorders.
Your adrenal glands are located on top of your kidneys. In addition to producing cortisol, they produce steroid hormones such as:
- androgens, which are male sex hormones
The test is also used to determine how well the adrenal glands respond to adrenocorticotropic hormone . ACTH is a hormone produced by the brains pituitary gland. It has a number of functions, including the production of corticosteroids. Too much ACTH can cause Cushing syndrome. In a healthy person, as the pituitary glands make less ACTH, the adrenal glands make less cortisol. Dexamethasone should decrease the amount of ACTH, which should then cause the amount of cortisol to decrease.
If youre currently taking the corticosteroid medicine dexamethasone, your doctor may recommend a dexamethasone suppression test to determine how its affecting cortisol levels in your blood.
Before the test, your doctor will tell you to stop taking certain prescription medications that may affect the results. These include:
- birth control pills
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How To Lower Cortisol
Reducing your cortisol level is a function of reducing your stress. If youre unable to remove stressful elements from your life, then double up on those practices that help you rise above the stresses, including:
- Breathing exercises are proven to calm chemistry, reduce heart rate, and relax muscles throughout the body.
- Meditation centers the mind on its own personal compass and puts the rest of the world into context and proportion from there. Try it.
- Walking is one of the most underrated practices. In addition to the gentle increase in metabolism, the scenery provides a distraction from daily nuisances and annoyances.
- Connect with family and friends and find someone you can talk to about anything. This comradery reminds you that you arent alone and others have shared your stresses before.
- Sleep better by focusing on creating and protecting a sleep routine with consistent bedtimes and rising times.
There is a lot to think about we understand. If you have questions about how to lower cortisol or any of the conditions discussed here, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
Opt Health is a telehealth platform that reconnects men with wellness, fitness, strength, and sexual vitality through scientific preventive medicine. From your own home, you can schedule with a physician, meet one-on-one via video conference, receive test results, and have medications delivered to your door.
Tips To Lower High Cortisol
Here are some tips that can help you lower your high cortisol levels and thus prevent long-term health problems associated with high cortisol.
- Eat a well balanced meal with plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid sugars, consume low glycemic index foods, avoid processed foods, eat a wide variety of health foods to ensure you receive all essential vitamins and nutrients
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Take time out of each day to relax listen to music, meditate, pray, perform your favorite hobby, anything that promotes relaxation
- Take up yoga or tai chi
- Ensure you are getting adequate sleep
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