Optimal Cortisol Levels
By Pat News, RNC, NP, MSN
Last week I explained how the adrenal glands are influenced by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland to cause fluctuations in the levels of cortisol. Influenced by illness, stress, pain, poor diet and all activities of daily living, the cortisol levels increase or decrease as necessary. In perfect balance, our bodies run like the fine machine Nature intended. However, out of balance, too much or too little cortisol will have devastating and long term effects if not corrected.
Too much cortisol over a prolonged period of time can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain, an increase in abdominal fat accumulation, heart disease and a deficient immune system. What can we do about high levels of cortisol? Life style changes are imperative to start with…….(no one likes to hear this, do they?) It’s true, though. Exercise, especially calmer kinds of exercise including yoga or Ta’i chi can do wonders to lower your cortisol levels. Prayer, meditation, journaling, counseling or outings with friends (laugh a lot) can also help to calm our stressors.
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Proper nutrition that looks like healthy choices of complex carbohydrates in a healthy ratio with good sources of protein and fats is also helpful. Just eating four to five small meals a day can also play a part in improving your cortisol levels.
Obvious reasons for a high cortisol level, like pain or inflammation/allergies should be addressed by a health care provider. If high cortisol levels at bedtime are a cause for insomnia, there are supplements that can soften your adrenals’ response to produce all that cortisol.
What about low levels of cortisol, possibly even to the point of adrenal fatigue? Here again life style changes are paramount. Sleep and napping are the best healing mechanisms for your adrenal glands. A bedtime of before 10PM and a minimum of eight hours sleep are not negotiable. Proper nutrition with 1) good food choices, 2) in small meals throughout the day and 3) a bedtime snack help to keep insulin and sugar levels more even throughout the day. Exercise in moderation, especially Ta’i chi and yoga will do more than just exercise your heart and muscles.They will help calm your mind and introduce you to a new philosophy of life.
Supplements, including both nutraceutical and compounded choices, are sometimes advised. Dealing with stressors of all kinds, physical, mental and emotional is recommended if healing is to be successful. Eliminating energy robbers and adding positive people is always a good start to recovery. Sometimes the road away from adrenal fatigue is not easy, but always better for your health status.
To schedule an appointment for a consultation and adrenal testing call Pat News Health Care at 661-799-7000.
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