Our body produces cortisol when stressed, and this hormone serves various functions. Namely, it maintains the body’s homeostasis, regulates blood pressure, inflammation, heart functions, metabolic activity, immune system responses, the function of the blood vessels, and central nervous system activity.
This hormone is produced by the adrenal glands, two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. Despite all its other functions, cortisol also plays a key role in the way the body breaks down carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins.
Yet, chronic stress can lead to the overproduction of cortisol, which can lead to numerous side effects, such as anxiety, depression, weak immunity, weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cognitive problems like difficulty learning and impaired memory.
Therefore, we need to keep its levels stable, and here are 7 effective ways to do so:
-- Regular exercise lowers cortisol levels by relieving stress and other counterproductive emotions
-- Cortisol levels can be lowered with the help of a healthy diet, rich in fiber and protein, and foods like eggs, fish, lean meat, flaxseed, citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens. Moreover, incorporate five small meals a day to prevent hunger and food cravings that elevate cortisol levels
-- Sleep deficiency has been linked to a negative response in the body and stress, so you need to establish a healthy sleep routine in order to lower cortisol levels
-- Meditation and mindfulness lower cortisol levels, as they treat anxiety and reduce stress. Deep breathing is another way to release tension and relax the body
-- Researchers at Johns Hopkins University discovered a link between social isolation and increased levels of cortisol in mice, so human bonding is essential for our physical and mental health and drastically lowers the levels of this hormone
-- Music has potent mood-enhancing properties, and it has been found that it increases the number of endorphins (“feel good” chemicals) and lowers the levels of stress hormones in the brain
-- Laughter has been found to be linked to numerous physical and mental benefits, including reducing cortisol levels and improving mood
Additionally, studies have shown that the following two nutritional supplements can also lower cortisol levels:
Fish oil- It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower cortisol levels. Researchers have confirmed that the use of fish oil supplements significantly reduce cortisol levels in response to stress
Ashwagandha- This Asian herb has been commonly used in traditional medicine to treat anxiety and relieve stress for centuries. The ashwagandha supplements have been found to help people adapt to stress and lower cortisol levels.