Stress is our response to change. Too much stress or negative stress (distress) produces excess glucocorticoid, including cortisol, which is very harmful for everyone, but especially women.
Indeed, an increase in cortisol produces an imbalance at several levels, particularly at the hormonal level.
Cortisol increases blood pressure, blood sugar levels and modulates inflammation. When you have a wolf in front of you, that's exactly what you want. Have the energy and the ability to react quickly with force. But as you can imagine, it is indeed rare that we are in a life or death situation. On the other hand, the body reacts the same whether you are in front of a wolf or in a traffic jam. Your cortisol, sugar levels, blood pressure and inflammation increase. This is why it is essential to learn how to manage stress by using tools, techniques or exercises. If you want to stay young and he althy, you need to develop tools, because cortisol accelerates aging.
Often cortisol gets high and over time it gets too muchlow, which can lead to exhaustion of the adrenal glands (adrenal glands that produce glucocorticoids). For example, high cortisol at night can make it hard for you to fall asleep quickly or even stay asleep.
Here are 7 he alth risks if your cortisol is too high:
- abnormal blood sugar, diabetes, pre-diabetes,
- obesity, increased fatty deposits on organs,
- mood problem, depression,
- infertility, PCOS polycystic ovary syndrome,
- sleep problem, insomnia,
loss of bone mass, osteoporosis.
Salivary Cortisol. You can measure your cortisol level using a saliva test. With a saliva sample taken at four different times of the day, you will be able to know your cortisol curve. Knowing your cortisol curve is a valuable tool for rebalancing your cortisol. Prices range around $200.
Stress makes you old
Did you know that cortisol, and therefore stress, produces a ton of free radicals that can cause mutations to your DNA, damage to your cells, cause you micronutrient deficiencies, for example vitamin B1, B5, B6, B12, C and tyrosine, an amino acid? Excess stress also causes you to lose your magnesium, an essential mineral for properly assimilating your calcium.
It doesn't matter if your cortisol is high or low, here are some solutions to help youregain your balance. But before you even go shopping for supplements, start by changing your lifestyle.
1. Eat dark chocolate. Yes, you read that right. 40 grams per day for 2 weeks reduces the level of urinary cortisol. Oh yes!
2. Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol increases cortisol and the effects last for at least 24 hours. If your cortisol is high, I recommend avoiding alcohol or consuming a maximum of 3 drinks per week.
3. Wean off coffee. Nothing new, coffee directly influences the production of cortisol, but also other hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and insulin.
If you suffer from anxiety and insomnia, and grind your teeth, then I strongly suggest that you quit caffeine.
4. Receive a massage once a week or once a month. The pressure of the massage stimulates receptors under the skin for vagal activity, which is one of the reasons why massage is so relaxing. Deep massage decreases cortisol and increases oxytocin, the love hormone. Studies also prove that massage improves the immune system.
5. Sing. If you prefer something more active than massage, you can sing. Learn a song by heart and sing it. Singing stimulates the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for memory. Singing also disables vigilance,amygdala (another region of the brain), and increases blood flow to the brain.
6. Try HeartMath with the Inner Balance app. Coherence is a state of internal synchronization between heart, breath and head. Synchronizing your breath with your heart rhythms, while emphasizing positive emotions, has been shown to reduce the negative effects of stress, improve relaxation and build resilience with just a few minutes of daily use. This method lowers cortisol levels by 23%.
7. Have an orgasm. Did you know this was once a way to treat female hysteria? Within 60 seconds of orgasm, your body fills with oxytocin, a hormone that provides love, while reducing cortisol.
8. Make a daily gratitude list. Every morning, name out loud the things or people you are glad to have in your life. You feel good after this exercise.
9. Meditate. There are several apps to guide and help you meditate. Try Headspace, Calm or Little Bamboo. Several published studies prove the immense benefits to the brain and the reduction of stress.
Here are some supplement tips
After you have made some lifestyle changes, don't forget to ask your doctor or naturopath for adviceapproved before undertaking supplementation. The tips here are general.
1 . Vitamin C. This vitamin lowers cortisol and is very safe. One study demonstrated a reduction in cortisol when a 1000 mg dose of vitamin C is taken 3 times daily. Another study showed a decrease in cortisol in marathon runners who produce a lot of cortisol during their sport. You can therefore take vitamin C 3 times a day or more specifically after your workout.
2. Vitamin B5. Pantethine reduces cortisol hypersecretion when humans are under stress. If you've been under stress for a long time, you can safely take 500 mg of vitamin B5 daily. (reference). You can also use a B complex where all of the B vitamins will be available to reduce cortisol.
3. Magnesium. It is well known that magnesium is easily depleted when experiencing stress. This mineral is a muscle relaxant; it calms muscles and physical tension, but also mental tension. I often say it's hamster food. You know the hamster that spins your head all the time! Choose a magnesium of the glycinate type, which is more easily assimilated. (Be careful not to take if you have a history of kidney problems).
4. Phosphatidylserine. This is a supplement made with an extract of cell membranes, phospholipids. This supplement that wasmuch studied reduces cortisol when taken in capsule form. 400 to 800 mg per day is recommended. One study even shows an improvement in mood at a dosage of 300 mg per day.
5. Omega-3. A study of men and women showed a reduction in salivary cortisol after 6 weeks of taking omega-3s. It is important to choose a brand of omega-3 that is free of heavy metals. Seek advice from your licensed naturopath.
Here are some plant tips
1. Ashwagandha. (Withania somnifera) It is a very well known and popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine. For over 6000 years, this plant has been used to induce sleep and as a sexual tonic. Several herbalists recommend this plant especially for anxious people with sleep disorders. But everyone can take it, there is no contraindication with antidepressants. You can find it in pill, drop, or powder form. A tradition is to consume the powder in a hot milk (I recommend a vegetable milk like coconut or almond milk) before going to bed. The taste is particular and does not please everyone.
2. Relora. (Magnolia officinalis, Phellodendron amurense). It is a combination of herbs that lowers cortisol at night, especially in obese or overweight women who suffer from food-related stress. Relora also reduces anxiety in women byperimenopause; a dosage of 250 mg three times a day is recommended.
3. Rhodiola. (Rhodiala rosea) It is a plant used in Asia and Eastern Europe traditionally to increase physical and mental performance, stimulate the nervous system, fight depression and improve the quality of sleep. It appears to alter levels of dopamine, epinephrine and serotonin in the brain. A study has shown that rhodiola has effects on stress-related fatigue, improves cognitive performance, concentration and lowers cortisol levels. It is used to help fight depression (reference). 200mg once or twice a day might be a good dose.
High stress and cortisol are always implicated in disease. They are the enemies to be fought daily. You need to find an effective stress management tool. Changing your lifestyle, adding plants, perhaps vitamins and minerals, in short, implementing an action plan to reduce the harmful effects of this cortisol is essential. Remember that you can measure your salivary cortisol level very easily with your licensed naturopath to better rebalance your cortisol.