Did you know that by managing your cortisol you can trim your waistline, sharpen your senses and even prevent a cold? This great survival mechanism was designed to protect our bodies in times of stress, but sometimes too much of a good thing can ruin the mix.
In order to understand the difference between good and bad levels of cortisone, it might be helpful to explore it further.
Cortisol is a hormone in the body that is secreted by the adrenal glands and provides for the following functions:
- Proper glucose metabolism
- Regulation of blood pressure
- Insulin release for blood sugar maintenance
- Immune function
- Inflammatory response
- A quick burst of energy in times of fight or flight.
- Heightened memory functions.
- Boosts the immune system.
- Lowers sensitivity to pain.
- Helps to maintain homeostasis in the body.
Our levels of cortisone are normally higher in the morning when we need to get things done and lower in the evening as we relax for the day. However, when we don’t get proper rest, we tend to produce an increased amount of the hormone. The increased production of cortisol can lead to further lack of sleep due to insomnia and other sleep problems. When cortisol spikes it signals the brain to demand high calorie foods as a survival tactic to supply the body with more energy. This would be fine if you were faced with a fight or flight situation but not in the case of mental stress.
Often referred to as the stress hormone because of the high levels of cortisol released in the bloodstream when the body is enduring a great amount of stress, too much cortisol can cause problems with your health such as:
- Increased belly fat which is associated with a greater amount of health problems.
- Impaired cognitive performance.
- Suppressed thyroid function.
- Blood sugar imbalances like hyperglycemia.
- Decreased bone density.
- Decreased muscle tissue.
- High blood pressure.
- A lowered immune system.
- Higher levels of cholesterol.
The key to keeping cortisol production at a healthy level is relaxation. As a matter of fact, proper rest is vital to the body’s well being. Getting 8 hours of sleep rather than 6 can mean a reduction in cortisol of up to 50%. Other ways of reducing cortisol are:
- Meditation and prayer can cut cortisol by as much as 20%.
- Listen to some of your favorite music to cut cortisol by nearly 65%. Fill your iPod with some new tunes and take a walk to lower stress and reduce belly fat.
- Sip black tea. As it turns out, enjoying an afternoon tea has many health benefits such as reducing cortisol by about 45%.
- Attend church or other religious service and reduce cortisol by 25%.
- Do something nice for someone to reduce cortisol levels by 20%.
- Go for a massage. Let a professional work out the kinks of built up stress and stiffening of the muscles. It can reduce cortisol levels by 30%.
- Hang out with a fun loving friend. Someone you can laugh with and enjoy your time with, you’ll reduce cortisol by up to 39%.
- Have a romp in the bed with your lover. Increased stress and cortisol can boost your sex drive, so why not take advantage and enjoy some love-making, you’ll reduce stress and cortisol levels, while burning about 70 calories in about 30 minutes.
- Exercise regularly. By maintaining your exercise program, you’ll regulate cortisol levels and reduce stress and help to lower blood pressure.
- Put stress in its place. Life’s challenges are sure to follow us but we can take charge of how we handle them and not let them control us. Enjoy life and preserve your health and happiness.
~ Karen Ficarelli
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