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What Is Cortisol? What Does It Do? Symptoms & Levels

Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss: Understanding the Key Differences for Your Fitness Journey

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It is commonly referred to as the “stress hormone” because it plays a crucial role in the body’s response to stress. However, when cortisol levels remain chronically elevated due to prolonged stress, it can have negative effects on the body. In this article, we will discuss what cortisol does, its symptoms and levels, and some supplements that can help reduce cortisol levels.

What Does Cortisol Do?

Cortisol plays a crucial role in regulating many physiological functions in the body, including blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and the immune system. It also plays a role in the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress, helping to prepare the body for immediate action.

When cortisol levels are elevated in response to acute stress, it can lead to symptoms such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased blood sugar levels. However, when cortisol levels remain chronically elevated due to prolonged stress, it can have negative effects on the body, including weight gain, fatigue, and impaired cognitive function.

Symptoms and Levels of Cortisol

Symptoms of chronically elevated cortisol levels can include weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area, fatigue and weakness, mood changes, insomnia or disturbed sleep patterns, muscle weakness or wasting, impaired cognitive function, and increased susceptibility to infection. Chronically elevated cortisol levels have been linked to a variety of health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders.

Cortisol levels can be measured through a blood or saliva test. Normal cortisol levels vary throughout the day, with the highest levels typically occurring in the morning and the lowest levels occurring at night. If cortisol levels are found to be consistently elevated, treatment may involve addressing the underlying cause of the stress, such as through stress management techniques or counseling. Medications may also be prescribed to help regulate cortisol levels, although these should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Supplements to Help Reduce Cortisol

In addition to stress management techniques and lifestyle changes, there are some supplements that may help to reduce cortisol levels. These include:

  1. Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that has been shown to help reduce cortisol levels and promote relaxation.

  2. Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help reduce inflammation and cortisol levels.

  3. Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in regulating cortisol levels and promoting relaxation.

  4. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has been shown to help reduce cortisol levels.

  5. Rhodiola rosea: Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb that has been shown to help reduce cortisol levels and improve stress tolerance.

While supplements can be helpful in reducing cortisol levels, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you are taking any medications or have any underlying health conditions.

 

In summary, cortisol is a hormone produced in response to stress that plays an important role in regulating many physiological functions in the body. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can lead to a variety of negative health effects, but lifestyle changes, stress management techniques, and supplements such as ashwagandha, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin C, and Rhodiola rosea can help to regulate cortisol levels and reduce the risk of developing these negative outcomes. If you are experiencing symptoms of chronically elevated cortisol levels, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider for proper evaluation and treatment.

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