Healthy Outlook MAY 2017 Stress Management & Cortisol Balance
Good Stress & Bad Stress
According to experts, stress is a burst of energy that basically advises you on what to do. In small doses, stress has many advantages. For instance, stress can help you meet daily challenges and motivate you to reach your goals. Stress is also a vital warning system, producing the fight-or-flight response. When the brain perceives stress, it starts flooding the body with chemicals like epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. This creates a variety of reactions such as an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Plus, the senses suddenly have a laser-like focus so you can avoid physically stressful situations – such as jumping away from a moving car and avoiding danger. In addition, there are various health benefits that come with a little bit of stress. Researchers believe that some stress can help to fortify the immune system. For instance, stress can improve how your heart works and protect your body from infection. In one study, individuals who experienced moderate levels of stress before surgery recovered faster than individuals who had low or high levels. Stress is key to survival. It is an inevitable part of life, but too much stress can be detrimental.
Chronic Stress is now linked with just about every health problem out there.
Cortisol is often called the primary “stress hormone” because it’s one of the main hormones we release when we’re under any sort of pressure and our evolutionally based fight-or-flight response kicks into gear. Although most think of cortisol as a bad thing – such as contributing to acne, weight gain or high blood pressure – there’s a lot more to cortisol levels than just our stress response and its unwanted symptoms. We need it to live!
While producing cortisol is a necessity for life and helps keep us motivated, awake and responsive to our environment, maintaining abnormally high circulating cortisol levels can become dangerous and contribute to long-term problems. Long-term use of corticosteroids and chronic stress are two of the biggest contributors to high cortisol. Chronic, high cortisol production is tied to symptoms and ailments including weight gain, anxiety, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances and fertility problems. Cortisol is also known as the aging hormone. When cortisol gets too high, it puts you into a fight-or-flight response, which stimulates your sympathetic nervous system and adrenal glands. When this occurs, there is a decrease in your digestive secretions and an increase in blood pressure. This puts your body in a state of constant stress, which will burn out your adrenal glands, stress your digestive tract and cause you to age more rapidly. So, if you want to look younger, feel younger and be healthy (and heal adrenal fatigue), you must get your cortisol levels balanced.
Some side effects of chronically elevated cortisol can include:
|Cancer||Chronic Fatigue Syndrome|
|Common Colds||Hormone Imbalance|
|Irritable Bowel Disease||Thyroid Conditions|
|Weight Loss Resistance|
How to lower cortisol levels naturally
The good news is there are many natural ways to get your cortisol levels in check. For instance, adaptogen herbs are known to lower cortisol, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can greatly help manage cortisol levels and regain your health by changing your diet, exercise routine, sleep and stress levels. Here are steps you can take to help lower cortisol levels naturally:
Switch to a Whole Foods, Anti-inflammatory Diet
Poorly managed blood sugar levels and high levels of inflammation can contribute to high cortisol levels and other hormonal imbalances. Following an anti-inflammatory diet low in processed foods and high in antioxidants, fiber and essential nutrients is key to balancing hormones, controlling your cravings and getting you on the right track. These same strategies can also help with adrenal support, allowing you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, boosting energy during the day and helping your sleep better at night. Some of the most significant dietary contributors to inflammation and high cortisol levels include;
- Consuming high amounts of refined and trans fats
- High-sugar high-glycemic diet (many packaged foods, refined grain products sugary drinks and snack)
- Drinking too much caffeine and alcohol
- Experiencing insufficient intake of micronutrients and antioxidants
- Not consuming enough fiber
- Not consuming enough healthy fats or protein
Reduce and Manage Stress
These natural stress relievers are proven to help lower cortisol and decrease the negative impact stress has on your health;
- Meditation / Mindfulness / Healing Prayer – This practice has been shown to help train the brain and body to turn off the stress response and promote more relaxation.
- Acupuncture/ Acupressure – Trusted for thousands of years, acupuncture treatments help naturally control stress and reduce symptoms like muscle or joint pain, headaches, fertility problems, trouble sleeping and poor circulation.
- Deep breathing exercises – Diaphragmatic breathing is an easy technique to relieve muscle tension and anxiety.
- Spending time in nature – studies show that physical settings play a role in stress reduction and being in nature is a well-documented way to promote relaxation.
According to research published by Harvard Medical School, regular exercise (30 to 60 minutes most days) is one of the best ways to manage stress, balance hormone, sleep better and aid normal metabolic functions.Use Adaptogen Herbs and Superfoods
Adaptogen herbs help naturally lower high cortisol levels in several key ways. They help balance hormones; reduce inflammation due to their strong antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial effects; have natural antidepressant effects; lower fatigue; and help balance blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Examples of Adaptogen Herbs
- Licorice Root
- Holy Basil
- Medicinal Mushrooms, including Resishi and Cordyceps
Similarly, to adaptogen herbs, essential oils are also helpful for fighting stress and balancing hormones.
Some examples of Essential Oils that naturally lower cortisol, reduce inflammation, improve immunity and help with sleep and digestive functions are
Supplement – Natural Cortisol Balance by Life Extension
- Significantly affects cortisol levels
- Promotes a healthy biological response to stress
- Supports healthy mood and sense of vigor
Relora: a proprietary blend of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense bark extracts. Studies show that Relora affects salivary cortisol levels, encouraging a healthy stress response. Relora also binds to neurochemical receptors which regulate mood and stress levels, and supplementing with Relora improved mood scores on standardized tests.
Oligonol: helps inhibit pro-inflammatory compounds. This is a unique, time-released blend of lychee fruit and green tea extracts help inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines which when left unchecked, encourage increased cortisol activity and biological stress response. Natural Cortisol Balance is the only nutritional supplement formula to combine these two proprietary extract blends into a single, natural, stress-support supplement. So … don’t stress! Add Natural Cortisol Balance to your nutritional regimen today.
- Life Extension
- Hormone Health Network
- Dr. Axe