If you’ve ever experienced the stress of a high-pressure job or home life, you’ll know about the negative impact that cortisol has on your body. Reaching dangerous peak levels of this hormone can leave your body overstretched, exhausted and prone to illness.
Did you know that high levels of cortisol can make you gain weight, increase your risk for developing diabetes and accelerate the aging process? This article will explore how elevated levels of cortisol are harmful and ways to bring balance back into your life by lowering this stress hormone.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that help us respond to stress. When our bodies are under stress, the adrenal glands release more cortisol so we have the energy to deal with the stressful situation. This is called the fight-or-flight response.
Cortisol is also referred to as the “fat hormone” because it can increase the amount of fat stored in the body. This can make you more likely to develop insulin resistance and put you at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Excess cortisol can also lead to abdominal weight gain, muscle loss, and low libido. Additionally, high cortisol levels can cause fatigue, joint pain, and low immunity.
The Negative Effects of Excessive Cortisol
When your body is constantly exposed to elevated levels of cortisol, the health-promoting benefits can be negated and you can experience a whole host of negative effects. Some of these negative effects include:
- Weight gain – Cortisol can increase the amount of fat your body stores, making it more likely for you to develop insulin resistance and put on weight.
- Joint pain – Since cortisol increases the amount of inflammation in your joints, it can cause joint pain and lead to osteoarthritis.
- Low libido – Excessive cortisol can decrease libido by decreasing the level of testosterone in men.
- Fatigue – Research has shown that people with high cortisol levels experience more fatigue.
- Hair loss – If you have high cortisol levels, you may be more likely to experience hair loss. Although the reason behind this is unclear, it’s worth noting that hair loss is a common side effect of cortisol imbalance.
How To Lower Cortisol Levels Naturally
Lowering cortisol levels naturally is important because high levels of this hormone can lead to a number of health problems. With high cortisol levels, you are at risk for fat gain, muscle loss, high blood pressure, low libido, and poor sleep quality. What’s more, high cortisol levels can cause brain damage. Lowering your cortisol levels naturally requires diet changes and lifestyle adjustments. Here are some recommendations:
Aromatherapy Breathing Exercise ?
An aromatherapy breathing exercise can help you lower cortisol levels naturally and effectively. Aromatherapy breathing can lower your stress levels, improve your mood, and improve your sleep quality. It can also help you to lose weight and improve your fitness levels.
To do this exercise, you’ll need a few drops of either peppermint, rose, lavender, or sage essential oil. Place the drops of oil on a paper towel, put the paper towel in a bowl, and light it on fire. As the bowl burns, breathe in the smoke from the paper towel to lower your cortisol levels.
Dark Chocolate Break ?
Dark chocolate has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. Since dark chocolate contains more cacao than regular chocolate, it has higher levels of antioxidants and caffeine. These two compounds may help to lower cortisol levels due to their relaxing effects. To take advantage of this, break into a small chunk of dark chocolate. Make sure the chocolate is at least 70% cocoa, as this is the sweet spot where the benefits outweigh the drawbacks of eating chocolate.
Daily Walk or Workout ?
Exercising regularly has been shown to help lower cortisol levels. You can choose to walk or do a workout that you enjoy. Regular exercise has been shown to help lower cortisol levels. You can choose to walk or do a workout that you enjoy. For those who are just starting an exercise routine, it’s best to start small with a 10-minute walk each day; as you become more fit, you can increase the length and intensity of your workouts. This can also help you relax and think about things without being distracted by work or other responsibilities.
Mindfulness meditation can help lower your body’s level of cortisol by reducing stress and increasing relaxation. According to several studies, regular meditation practice may decrease overall cortisol secretion in addition to lowering the level of free (unbound) cortisol in the blood.
Research has shown that meditation can lower cortisol levels and improve overall health. One study found that meditation can reduce blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk. Other studies have shown that meditation can improve mental health, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve sleep quality. If you are a complete beginner, check our guide on how to meditate for beginners.
Eat Healthy Meals ?
A balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is essential for keeping your stress levels down and managing your weight. Eating too many refined carbs and sweets or not getting enough protein can contribute to elevated levels of cortisol.
Eating healthy meals can help lower your cortisol levels by providing your body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Healthy meals rich in protein and fiber can help keep your blood sugar levels balanced, which can lower your cortisol levels. Additionally, healthy meals that are rich in vitamins and minerals can help keep your body strong and healthy.
Excessive cortisol can lead to many health issues that may leave you feeling less-than-great. Luckily, these issues can be reversed by lowering your cortisol levels through diet and other practices. When you’re under stress, don’t let high cortisol levels take over and cause you to make unhealthy decisions. Instead, use these tips to lower cortisol levels naturally.