November 11-17, 2018
Get Your Hormones In Balance
THINGS TO PRACTICE:
2. Manage your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is part of the bodies response to stress. It is one of the key flight or fight hormones. When the body perceives a stressor, it sends out cortisol. During a 60-minute workout, or if you are attacked by a bear, cortisol can do some good by changing blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, and shunting fuel from certain areas of the body. Issues occur when cortisol levels are elevated for prolonged periods of time, days, weeks, months, or more. Cortisol levels should naturally cycle up and down throughout a 24 hour period. The cycle of cortisol usually peaks with its highest numbers early in the morning with its lowest numbers late at night (midnight -ish). Individuals with prolonged elevated cortisol levels, can have many of the following health issues…
- Poor sleep and lack of REM sleep (high cortisol levels disrupt REM sleep and you will still wake up exhausted)
- High blood sugar (cortisol promotes gluconeogenesis in the liver which increases blood sugar along with reducing GLUT4 receptors on cell membranes)
- Higher risk of chronic disease (diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Cancer’s etc)
- Reduced immune system response (cortisol reduces inflammation in the short term, but long term it reduces our total immune response)
- Reduced sex drive and lowered levels of testosterone and estrogen (irregular menstrual cycles, poor muscle development, fertility issues, etc)
- Weight gain or poor weight management (cortisol promotes visceral fat storage and reduces stomach’s ability to absorb nutrients)
- Poor gut health (you are in the fight or flight mode, your stomach will have reduced absorption rates and blood flow)
- Chronic fatigue and depression (many of the above effects combined can lead to this)
So, the big question is how to fix this. How do we get cortisol levels back down and in check? Check out some of the things you can do this week to start lowering your cortisol levels. This is a tough cycle to break, so you might want to try a few of these at the same time.
- Choose low glycemic index and low glycemic load meals (low sugar and incorporate protein). this helps to regulate blood sugar
- Avoid sugar and excess starch (for the same reason above, to keep your blood sugar regulated, your body responds to sugar as a stressor and can elevate cortisol levels)
- Reduce caffeine intake (excessive caffeine intake, can increase cortisol levels)
- Eat breakfast by 7am (to help bring down your cortisol levels at their highest part of their cycle)
- Go to bed by 10am (take advantage of the lowest part of your cortisol cycle to try and allow REM sleep near midnight)
- Control areas of pain (many people allow some injuries to go on and on, your body perceives these as stressors and elevates cortisol! Fix your injuries)
- Manage emotional stress (practice stress management strategies, and learn to say no in our busy lives).
- Lastly, you can always confer with a health professional or physician that specializes in hormones and stress to get further testing done on your cortisol levels.