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.
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.