Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone. When we are in stressful situations or stressed about what is going on in our lives, our brain tells our bodies to initiate our natural stress response.
This is what we know as the fight or flight response. Our brain speaks to our adrenal gland to produce higher cortisol levels.
This allows our bodies to focus on the source of our stress. Common sources of stress can be work, family problems, relationship issues, or general life stress.
Consistent production of cortisol negatively impacts our bodies to the point that it suppresses our immune system, digestive system, and reproductive system.
To reduce your cortisol hormone levels, An Optimal You in Murrieta, CA focuses on integrative medicine that creates a cohesive wellness plan. The wellness plan supports a combination of orthodox and alternative medicine that highlights the necessary lifestyle changes of our patient. This practice incorporates different methods of positive living and selective medicines. Our approach to integrative medicine will help lower cortisol levels.
Cortisol serves as the body’s stress hormone. This doesn’t mean it is bad, as slightly elevated stress levels can actually push to you achieve more. But this hormone does more than just control the body’s stress response.
As with every other hormone in the body, cortisol serves multiple functions. Nearly every tissue in the body has receptors for it. This means almost every organ system in your body can be affected by it. This includes:
Because of the number of systems it affects, this hormone helps regulate and control many different body functions. We have listed some of the main ways cortisol helps the body below:
Regulation Of Stress Response – As we said above, cortisol helps your body control its natural ‘fight or flight’ response. The body’s release of this hormone usually comes after the release of adrenaline so that your mind stays on high alert. This came in handy when we were still surviving in nature, and it can still help today on occasion.
Increase And Regulation Of Blood Sugar – Normally, this hormone helps counterbalance the effect of insulin, which helps regulate your blood sugar levels. Cortisol does this by releasing glucose into the bloodstream, while insulin helps lower the amount of sugar in your veins. In high-stress situations, cortisol releases stored glucose.
Control Of Your Sleep Cycles – Under normal circumstances, it has been proven that humans have higher levels of cortisol in the morning just before you wake up and lower levels just before you fall asleep in the evening. This shows that this hormone is key in optimizing your circadian rhythm, helping you rest and wake up easier.
Inflammation Suppression – Cortisol in short bursts will boost your immunity by lowering inflammation. This immune boost does not last very long though, as extended stress causes your immune system to weaken.
Metabolism Regulation – When in stressful situations, this hormone stimulates your metabolism to give your body a surge of energy. This is good, but a side effect is the fact that it increases appetite long after the stressful situation has passed. It also helps you regulate your metabolism outside of peaks of stress.
One of the strangest parts of life is the fact that those events and people in life that give us the most happiness or fulfillment can also cause stress. This includes family, work, and relationships. Love will bring you immense joy, but relationships, whether that be with family or your significant other, are hard work. They require attention and communication, and arguments and hurt feelings will cause you to be overwhelmed.
Stress can also just come from all around you, and the things that cause us stress aren’t always around indefinitely. Situations like illness, injury, moving houses, and organizing big events along with many other things in life can put pressure on you, making your cortisol levels rise.
The important thing to know is how these things are affecting you. Relationship issues popping up every now and again is fine, but if that isn’t the only stressful situation you’re dealing with, then your cortisol levels may begin to rise too much.
As is true with every hormone in your body, your cortisol levels can become imbalanced if your body or lifestyle is. It is important to keep close tabs on your well-being. The amount of stress your body takes will directly affect your health.
Monitor your health closely and keep an eye out for the following symptoms. They can signify that your cortisol levels are out of balance:
Finding yourself experiencing these symptoms means your cortisol levels are likely higher than they should be. This could be because you are taking too much on your shoulders. Reach out to a hormone specialist so that you can begin taking steps to balance your life.
There are occasions where people suffer from specific cortisol diseases such as Addison’s Disease or Cushing’s Disease/Syndrome, but these are not very common. Addison’s disease is an autoimmune disease that attacks the adrenal gland and greatly reduces the production of cortisol. On the opposite spectrum, Cushing’s Disease/Syndrome, or hypercortisolism, is characterized by unusually high cortisol levels. You are more likely to have adrenal fatigue than these specific medical conditions.
It is important to talk to your general practitioner about Addison’s or Cushing’s Disease to receive the proper medical care required. An Optimal You is a supplementary medical office and will not have the tools needed to actively treat your medical condition.
Adrenal fatigue, however, stems from chronic stress, and is the most common of these problems. The stress in our lives causes our adrenal glands to over produce cortisol and exhaust its functionality over time. Adrenal glands then lose the ability to produce the optimal amount of cortisol leaving you feeling fatigued, depressed, or with trouble sleeping.
Adrenal fatigue has a large impact on our lives. It affects the way we feel every day and how we respond to specific stressors on a physical and emotional level. Chronic stress increases our cortisol. The increased levels of cortisol rises our blood pressure and causes our bodies to go into a fight or flight response. The consistent stress affects your adrenal glands, your heart, and other bodily functions. Improperly handled hormonal imbalances will cause further health problems down the line if not dealt with.
Stress is always going to be part of our lives, but we cannot let it control us. We may stress about our children’s lives, our own careers, or where we are headed in life. To regulate your cortisol levels naturally, you must change the way you eat and how you overcome stressful situations.
Our diet has a direct impact on regulating our hormone levels. Our lifestyle has a strong influence on what our bodies do in a frantic setting. In most cases, lifestyle changes, hormone balancing, and proper supplementation will help reduce your cortisol levels naturally.
Replacing deficient hormones can assist your adrenal glands in recovering. In addition, we have curated a small of list of natural ways to balance your cortisol levels. These small changes in your life can sway the course of your health in a positive direction. Do not be discouraged if you are not successful immediately. Change happens in time, not right away. Remember, life is a marathon, not a race. Don’t rush to finish, take your time and enjoy things.
Eat a balanced diet. Diet greatly effects our body’s functions. When we are stressed, our bodies take stored sugars and use it as energy during a high-risk situation. If we are stressed for a long period of time, we are consistently producing those sugars. This greatly increases your chance of getting diseases like diabetes.
Practice meditation. Deep breathing exercises have shown to center our minds at the beginning and end of the day, lowering our stress hormones and bringing peace to ourselves. Without this, or ample time to decompress, you are likely to become imbalanced.
Sleep more. Our days get away from us. It is not unusual to try to get as many things done before falling asleep at night. Do not sacrifice sleep for chores or work that can be done tomorrow. When you feel tired, don’t push yourself. Rest instead.
Avoid caffeine at dinner time or a few hours before you go to bed. Sleep is just as important as eating right or getting enough exercise. An intake of calories will give you an energy boost that will keep you up at the beginning of your normal sleep cycle. It will end up putting your body out of sync with its circadian rhythm and lower your sleep quality overall.
Be more active. This does not mean pushing yourself to the extent of exhaustion every day, it means keep your muscles moving. This could mean going for a small walk around the block. Stretch your body for 10-20 minutes while watching television. These small steps will do wonders for your body.
Getting your body in balance is key to a happy and healthy life. An imbalance in cortisol isn’t just reflective of one problem in your life; instead, it is showing that you need to take it slow. The good news is that An Optimal You can help you get your life back on track.
An Optimal You is California’s #1 health and wellness center. Our team of hormone specialists, as well as our many incredible wellness partners, can help you feel happier, healthier, and all around better. Our goal is to help you create the optimal you that you’ve always wanted. Call us today to set up an appointment!