What is cortisol?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced in the cortex of the adrenal glands. It predominately regulates the immune system.
This is the hormone that increases glucose levels in stressful situations so that your body has enough energy to cope. This is why it is known as the stress hormone.
But what happens if you have high levels of cortisol?
Is having a high levels of cortisol a problem?
Yes. All excesses are harmful and, in this case, it’s also harmful. High levels of cortisol can have negative consequences for the body.
But why do cortisol levels change in the first place?
One of the main reasons is stressful situations sustained over time. The daily pace of life, especially in large cities, contributes to the stress until it becomes schronic.
Other issues that cause high levels of cortisol include:
- Major depression
- Steroid intake
- Too much physical activity
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Adrenal disorders (in the hypothalamus or pituitary gland)
Signs that you have high levels of cortisol
The signs that can indicate you have high levels of cortisol are very varied. However, when a person experiences most of the following it is necessary to go to the doctor to confirm or rule out the possibility that it is an imbalance of this hormone.
- High blood pressure.
- Digestive problems.
- Decreased muscle strength.
- Sudden mood swings.
- Difficulty in sleeping.
- Water retention in the eyelids.
- Excessive levels of blood glucose.
- Excessive hair production in the facial area.
- Appearance of stretch marks on the abdomen.
- Obesity concentrated in the abdominal area.
- Appearance of fat deposits in the neck.
What should you do if you have high cortisol levels?
Once the doctor has requested the blood tests and the respective results have been obtained, they will be evaluated.
The normal numbers of this hormone in the blood range from 5 to 20 micrograms per deciliter. Or they can also be indicated as 140 to 550 nanomoles/liter.
In case the figures are higher than these, then your level considered to be excessive.
The next step will be to determine the cause of the increase of cortisol in the body. This way, an adequate treatment can be prescribed.
What can you do?
We recommend you put into practice the following measures so that your cortisol levels remain normal.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Do not forget that the body needs a certain amount of water per day to be able to perform its functions correctly.
- Aim to sleep between 6 and 8 consecutive hours during the night.
- Avoid eating heavy foods and in exaggerated quantities.
- Avoid the consumption of caffeine products (soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee) and alcohol.
- Do physical activity regularly but not excessively.
- Avoid processed foods, which contain refined sugar and carbohydrates (bread, cakes, some pasta, sweets in general, etc.).
- Ask your doctor what are the best options for falling asleep. Natural products may be recommended to you.
- With a trusted herbalist, research the natural herbs that have an anti-stress effect and look for the alternative that best suits you.
Other tips to consider
One of the ways to prevent the high cortisol level from playing tricks on you is to not allow stressful situations to overtake you on a day-to-day basis. To do this, it’s necessary that you put these tips into practice:
- Learn breathing techniques and use them. You will see how deep breathing on a daily basis will benefit you not only emotionally, but also on a biological level.
- Meditate daily or opt for any other relaxation technique.
- Play, walk and pet your pet at least a little every day. If you do not have one, consider the option of adopting a dog or a cat. It really makes a difference.
- You can also consider going to a laughter therapy session.
- Try to distract yourself from your daily worries: listen to music, watch a funny movie, read a book, have a good time with friends or family or look for a new hobby.