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How Do I Maintain Normal Cortisol Levels?

High cortisol levels may lead to weight gain.
Energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine, which should be avoided to help maintain normal cortisol levels.
Chronic stress may cause an over-production of cortisol.
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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Images By: Jedi-Master, Daniel_Jurena, Jedi-Master
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2014
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Cortisol, a steroid hormone made by the adrenal gland, is responsible for the feelings of stress and for regulating blood pressure, insulin levels, and the immune system. Maintaining normal cortisol levels is one of the best ways to protect your body and help you function at your maximum ability. High cortisol levels can cause several health conditions and can be reduced by certain relaxation techniques and activities. Low cortisol levels can bring about issues such as low blood pressure and weight gain and can be addressed by medication and certain diet changes.

In small bursts, cortisol provides an added boost of energy and lowers pain tolerance so you can deal with stressful situations. If cortisol is consistently higher than normal, health issues may begin to develop. If you’re suffering from higher-than-normal cortisol levels, you are likely putting yourself at risk for developing high blood pressure, thyroid issues, reduced bone density, and mental health challenges. To lower your cortisol levels, and thus reduce your feelings of stress, try engaging in breathing exercises and mediation.

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If you need to lower your cortisol levels, it can also help to make dietary changes. Consuming foods rich in omega 3s and magnesium, as well as drinking black tea, have all been shown to aid in lowering cortisol levels. Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can also help maintain normal cortisol levels because these substances can increase your body’s production of this hormone. Regular safe sexual encounters can also help lower cortisol.

When cortisol levels are too low, you could suffer from low blood pressure and unwanted weight gain because low cortisol levels can inhibit your metabolism. If you need to raise your cortisol levels, there is likely some medical issue at play. Doctors will typically prescribe medication such as prednisone or hydrocortisone, a synthetic version of cortisol, to replace the hormone that your body is missing. It can also be helpful to reduce your sodium intake and eat foods rich in potassium because these changes can help to correct cortisol imbalances.

If you have normal cortisol levels, maintaining them is key. While small amounts of stress can be helpful, make sure to allow yourself periods of relaxation to recover from the natural increase in cortisol. It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising regularly. Doing this can help your body maintain its balance and protect you from future health issues.

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Discuss this Article

ddljohn
Post 3

@burcinc-- Low cortisol will cause adrenal fatigue, you don't want that. I think your doctor will put you on hormone therapy. Make sure to get enough rest.

SarahGen
Post 2

@burcinc-- I have the exact opposite problem, my cortisol levels are consistently too high. It has improved over the last few months however because i made some diet and lifestyle changes.

I agree with all the suggestions in the article. I've been avoiding caffeine, eating more healthy and exercising regularly to lower my stress levels. I'm also taking a multi-vitamin now and making sure that I get enough sleep.

My cortisol has come down a little bit but I still have a long way to go. I think if I maintain this lifestyle though, I will have the numbers within the normal range soon.

Elevated cortisol levels aren't good and I'm sure that low cortisol can't be good either. You should try and keep it within range for optimum health. I don't think you will have muscle loss if your cortisol is at the normal level.

burcinc
Post 1

I just found out that I have low cortisol levels. I haven't met with my doctor about the test results, so I don't know what he's going to suggest.

This is actually the first time I'm hearing that low cortisol can have disadvantages. I thought that low cortisol was a good thing because cortisol causes muscle loss. That's something I want to avoid because I'm bodybuilding.

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