Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. This hormone is responsible for several vital functions within the body, however, it can have a downside too. Cortisol is responsible for regulating the response of the body to stress by altering certain physiological functions. When this happens chronically, it leads to several unwanted symptoms.
Recently, much light has been shed on Cortisol and the downsides in terms of its connection to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, however, not enough information has been given on the clinically-proven methods of reducing this hormone and its effects. In this article, I will be discussing activities, herbs, and foods that play a role in regulating and reducing excessive cortisol.
– Metabolism of macro-nutrients (Fats, proteins, carbs)
– Immune Response
– Blood pressure
– Blood Sugar
– Anti-Inflammatory mechanisms
– Functions of the Nervous System
Cortisol is essential for our health and survival, however, when Cortisol levels get too high or do not come back down to normal levels, it can wreak havoc. If a person is constantly stressed out, as most people are, the Adrenal glands may burn out, resulting in “Adrenal Fatigue”.
When Cortisol levels rise, it can cause:
– Reduced bone density
– Weight gain and inhibit weight loss (Especially abdominal fat gain)
– Muscle wasting
– Slow healing of wounds and injuries
– Reduced Cognitive Function & difficulty concentrating
– Disturbed sleep
– High Blood Pressure
– Poor Immunity
– Constant fatigue, etc
Now if you think about it, these are conditions that almost everyone suffers from. This may be due to the fact that our modern-day lifestyles are ridiculously stressful and are therefore destroying our health.
Activities That Reduce Stress:
– Creative activities like art, music, etc.
The best thing to reduce stress is to take a walk early in the morning. At least one hour of walking, preferably in a park or some area that is full of trees, grass, and fresh air.
– A study done by Mr. Gregory Bratman at the University of Stanford showed that nature walks reduce “rumination” (reflecting and brooding, especially over negative things). People who walk in parks, grassy areas and take nature walks, tend to be less depressed and respond better to stress, physiologically.
– Also, a study conducted by the University of Michigan, together with De Montfort University, James Hutton Institute, and Edge Hill University in the United Kingdom, showed that group nature walks resulted in reduced depression, less stress, and improve mental health (see study).
This potent adaptogen herb has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for treating a wide range of conditions including fatigue, sexual debility, infertility, sciatica, bronchitis, and other conditions characterized by wasting and reduced immunity. “Adaptogen” herbs improve the body’s ability to adapt to stress and reduce the quantity of circulating cortisol.
Clinical trials have supported the use of Ashwagandha for several conditions and have also demonstrated it’s stress and cortisol lowering effects (see study).
Another potent adaptogen herb has also been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for treating conditions such as bronchitis, depression, asthma, infections, headaches and various skin conditions. Clinical trials have supported the use of Tulsi for treating diabetes, hypotension, hypertension, immunomodulation, Gout, and viral infections.
In clinical research, Tulsi has been found to have a profound ability to reduce the effects that stress has on the body (see study).
Foods to reduce Cortisol:
As I always say, diet plays a vital role in treating illnesses and maintaining health. Foods rich in magnesium and omega 3s are able to assist in the regulation of Cortisol and help maintain mental calmness. Serotonin boosting foods can also help prevent Cortisol spikes by allowing you to stay calm.
– Green Leafy Veggies
– Brazil Nuts, etc
– Tuna & Salmon
– Pure Butter
– Whole grains
– Foods rich in B-vitamins
Consume these foods daily to support your Adrenal glands, minimize the effects of stress and regulate Cortisol.
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
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by Dr. Nishal R.