Cortisol is a hormone produced by the human body, designed to help the body deal with mental and physical stress. Also known as the "stress hormone," cortisol increases in the blood rise as an individual feels either physical, emotional or mental stress. High levels of cortisol in the blood affect certain chemical balances in the body and may result in increased appetite, weight gain and for some, an increased risk of stroke or cardiovascular conditions caused by increase of fat deposits in the blood vessels. It's possible to lower high cortisol levels in the blood naturally.
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Ways to Lower Cortisol
Eat a balanced, nutritious diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables. Low-glycemic index foods like eggs help lower cortisol levels in the blood while whole grain products help proteins control the production of cortisol in the body. Stay away from processed sugars and flours. Vitamin B5 and folic acid help lower cortisol levels. They can be found in foods like beans, fish, whole grains, peas, beans, sunflower seeds and fruits such melons and oranges.
Exercise on a daily basis to help with weight loss and weight management. Exercise also produces 'feel good' endorphins that are released in the brain and combat stress and anxiety, a natural way to decrease the production of excess cortisol.
Relax by yourself for at least 20 minutes a day. Meditate, read, listen to music, spend time playing with a pet, weeding the garden or praying. Adequate relaxation and downtime is necessary to alleviate and reduce stress, which also serves to regulate hormone production in the body.
Take herbs such as Golden Root or Holy Basil to help lower cortisol levels. Dong Quai and astralgus are also effective and can be found in your local natural health food or drug store.
Take vitamin and mineral supplements, especially Vitamin C, which naturally lowers cortisol levels. Folic acid controls the actions and functions of the adrenal glands, which produce cortisol.