What is cortisol?
If you often feel stressed, it is likely that your cortisol levels are elevated. There are many ways in which you can lower your cortisol levels and avoid complications.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone. It is also known as a stress hormone because it is particularly secreted when the individual is in a stressful situation. Without cortisol, humans are not viable. So it’s a vital hormone.
When does the cortisol level increase?
Cortisol is formed in the adrenal cortex. The amount of cortisol secreted is subject to the daily rhythm. From about 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning the cortisol level is highest, so that the person can start the day, accordingly it is low in the evening.
If it comes to excitement and stress, the cortisol level also increases. In chronic stress, it initially increased chronically, before it comes through a depletion of the adrenal gland to a chronic undersupply of cortisol (adrenal insufficiency), resulting in fatigue, difficulty concentrating, low stress tolerance, Susceptible to infection, palpitations, etc.
What is the role of cortisol in the body?
Cortisol has vital tasks. So it is involved in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, it manages the provision of carbohydrates (blood sugar), is involved in fat and protein metabolism, reduces inflammatory processes and helps in the control of blood pressure – to only the most important cortisol properties call.
What are the symptoms or consequences of high cortisol levels?
Those who suffer from a chronically elevated cortisol level may experience the following symptoms:
- Infectiousness (weakened immune system)
- High blood pressure and heart disease
- Sleep disorder, tired and uneasy despite sleep the next day
- Anxiety, mood swings and depression
- Concentration problems and memory loss (cortisol should kill even brain cells and inhibit the formation of new brain cells)
- Cortisol inhibits the release of sex hormones and therefore restricts libido
- Increasing blood sugar level (diabetes risk!)
- Tendency to overweight (especially on the stomach)
- Muscle loss or despite strength training, the muscle is difficult because muscles are built between the training phases at low cortisol levels. If the cortisol level is always elevated, the muscles can not build up.
- Cortisol inhibits serotonin production, which can lead to depression, depression and even panic attacks
- Increased sensitivity to pain as cortisol affects the brain so that pain becomes more intense – back or muscle pain can become stronger or develop
- Also irritable bowel-like symptoms or heartburn u. Ä. can develop because cortisol acts directly on the digestive system
- Too much cortisol can permanently reduce bone density and thus contribute to osteoporosis, which can often be the side effect of long-term cortisone therapy. But the risk of this side effect can be reduced by a lot of movement.
- However, cortisol has all these properties only when its level is chronically elevated. Because – as explained in the beginning – cortisol is a vital substance, which is essential for a healthy and happy life. Only he may just not be available in excess, especially not in the long term.
How to lower the cortisol level naturally?
The most important measures for a healthy and balanced cortisol level are those that belong to a “completely normal” healthy lifestyle. They initially require some discipline, until you get used to the new habits. It pays, however, because the personal energy level and with it the performance in everyday life will increase enormously!
- Drink no alcohol, no caffeinated drinks.
- Drink enough water (depending on the climate, diet and exercise, but at least 1 to 1.5 liters per day).
- Eat no sugar and no white flour products, eat healthy food instead.
- Ensure adequate and regular sleep (if possible, go to bed at the same time and preferably before midnight).
- Avoid blue light.
- Turn off your smartphone, computer etc. and artificial light in the evening.
- Implement all measures that can reduce stress, such as: B. Relaxation techniques (breathing techniques, yoga, tai chi, Klopfakupressur, meditation), walks, exercise moderately, be massaged, spend a lot of time with family and friends, listen to beautiful music, even make music, dancing, singing, laughing, etc.
Furthermore, the following measures are possible:
- Regulate melatonin levels
Melatonin is the hormone that is released especially in the evening and makes us tired. So the melatonin level is high when the cortisol level is low and vice versa. For this reason, measures for a balanced melatonin level are also suitable for regulating the cortisol level again. They are mainly the measures from the previous section.
- Avoid heavy metal contamination or carry out detoxification
A 2015 study showed that heavy metal contamination (eg with mercury) significantly increases the susceptibility to stress and thus raises the cortisol level. A detoxification could therefore be a helpful procedure even with a chronically elevated cortisol level.
- Spend a lot of time with the dog
If you have a dog, you should spend more time with him than before. Because the presence of the four-legged friend has even more soothing effect on the cortisol level than the presence of a human friend, as a study from 2014 showed.