Cortisol is the main stress hormone that is involved with your immune system, your metabolism, and much more. Its main job is to help your body respond to stress.
Such as making you more alert in a life-threatening situation. For example, if a tiger chases you, cortisol will raise your heart rate and turn off your digestion so that you can run faster to escape.
The problem is, that your body can’t tell the difference between a real threat and an imaginary threat. So if you are worrying about bills, relationships, life troubles, etc.
Your body will start to release cortisol as part of the fight or flight mechanism. Unfortunately, over time, stresses like these can keep your cortisol levels high, which can raise your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and a weakened immune system.
This happens because the adrenal glands that produce cortisol start to become burnt out. This may not always show up on a blood test because this hormone can rise and fall at different times of the day.
So in today’s article, we are going to share with you the top 12 signs of high cortisol levels.
I will also share some simple remedies and nutrition tips to bring this hormone back into balance.
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1. Waking Up At Night.
The most common sign of high cortisol is waking up between 2-3 am in the middle of the night.
Too much cortisol affects your sleep/wake cycles called the circadian rhythm. You may also start feeling sleepy again around 8 am when the cortisol wave comes down again.
When you’re trying to relax to go to sleep, you will find it hard to turn your brain off. You will be overanalyzing and thinking, stopping you from winding down.
Cortisol helps you to think in life-threatening situations, so if it’s high it keeps you alert.
3. Brain Fog.
On the other hand, when you need your brain to work you may suffer from brain fog, tiredness, and fatigue.
This is because the high cortisol is overstimulating your nervous system and then burning out. So you will be wide awake in the night, and tired and foggy in the day.
4. High Blood Pressure.
The most common cause of high blood pressure is stress and high cortisol levels. Cortisol raises your blood pressure so that you can fight or run away in a life-threatening situation.
Mental stress triggers the same response in your body, so finding ways to relax often brings BP down.
5. Muscle Loss.
If your cortisol levels stay high for many months or years, it converts your muscle into sugar. This commonly affects the buttocks and the thighs.
The body is cannibalizing its own muscle to create sugar so that you can run away from a perceived threat.
6. Frequent Infections.
In normal amounts, cortisol supports your immune system to help protect you from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.
However high cortisol turns off the natural inflammatory process.
This makes you catch more colds and have more symptoms.
7. Cold Sores.
Whenever you’re feeling stressed, you may have noticed that cold sores appear on/around your mouth.
This is because cortisol being released weakens the immune system and makes viruses come out of remission such as the cold sore virus (herpes simplex).
8. Hot Flashes.
The glands that make cortisol are also involved in making estrogen after a woman goes through menopause.
So if you have had high cortisol for a long time, you may suffer from more hot flashes, because the gland is unable to make enough estrogen, as it’s burnt out.
The body is very good at adapting to different foods that you eat and turning them into energy.
However, with high cortisol levels, the body produces way too much sugar which over time can lead to type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. This is why stress is a common cause of diabetes.
High cortisol can also have a reaction that originally causes anxiety which leads to depression.
This is because cortisol blocks your ability to absorb Vitamin D, a nutrient that is needed to keep your mood stable by making certain neurotransmitters in your brain.
11. Restless Leg Syndrome.
If you can’t get to sleep at night because your legs feel like they are full of electrical energy, then you may be deficient in Vitamin B1.
High levels of stress and cortisol deplete B1, which causes RLS and also nerve damage.
12. Purple Stretch Marks.
Cortisol helps to manage inflammation in your body, but if you have too much cortisol your skin can start to lose its elasticity.
The cortisol is causing a breakdown in your collagen, and can also make your skin age and sag much faster.
Finally, if your cortisol is high, it can trigger a skin condition that causes the blood vessels in your face to become more flushed and visible.
It can also trigger a range of different allergies and autoimmune conditions.
How To Lower My Cortisol Levels
If you experience a mixture of the symptoms we just mentioned, then you will want to know what steps you can take to bring your cortisol levels back to normal.
1. Remove stressors from your life as much as possible, such as stressful people and situations.
Allocate more time for relaxation in your life, where you stop talking and get out of your own head. Reading, swimming, meditating, or burning incense are all excellent examples.
2. Start taking long gentle walks in nature of at least 1 hour per day to get fresh air and calm your adrenal glands.
Essential oils are released from plants and trees into the air which calms down your nervous system to reduce stress, anxiety, and cortisol.
3. Start eating nutritional yeast and other foods rich in B-Vitamins on a daily basis such as grass-fed beef, shellfish, pasture-raised eggs, seeds, and seafood.
B Vitamins help your adrenal glands adapt to stress to lower cortisol. You should also cut down on refined sugar and flour-based foods like bread, cereal, pancakes, biscuits, etc because these deplete your B Vitamins.
4. Cut back on caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda drinks.
Caffeine is a stimulant that makes your adrenal glands release more cortisol. Limit this to one small cup of coffee in the morning.
I recommend replacing them with herbal teas that reduce cortisol including lemon balm tea, passionflower tea, and peppermint tea.
5. If you wish you can also take a daily supplement of Rhodiola, ashwagandha, or holy basil.
These herbs are all adaptogens, meaning that they help your body adapt to stress. This lowers the need for cortisol.
6. Last but not least, ensure that you are getting lots of potassium and magnesium in your diet from eating lots of vegetables.
Kale, broccoli, cauliflower, radish, collard greens, peppers, and chilies are all excellent.
These minerals relax the muscles and body to release physical tension and stress. Taking apple cider vinegar daily in a glass of water also helps you to absorb minerals and calm you down.
Following these steps can majorly reduce cortisol levels, helping you to sleep better at night and improve your overall wellbeing.
This reduces the risk of developing diabetes, nerve damage, and many other health problems.
Cortisol is the stress hormone that helps your body adapt to stressful situations, however too much can affect your sleeping patterns, and weaken your immune system.
By following the steps outlined in this article, you can take action to lower both your stress and cortisol levels in order to live a more wholesome life.
Stress is the major cause of illness, disease, and premature aging. So taking care of this can literally add years to your lifespan.
I wish you great health, wealth, and happiness.