Cortisol is one of the main hormones produced by the adrenal glands. It’s often called the stress hormone because it’s released during times of physical and emotional stress, but it’s not always a bad thing. Cortisol is responsible for maintaining the health of and proper communication between every cell in your body. In the short term, cortisol is a good thing—it triggers the breakdown of fat and has anti-inflammatory effects.
But if your cortisol is chronically elevated, it can lead to a range of other symptoms and conditions, such as sleep problems, blood sugar imbalances, increased belly fat, increased inflammation, and a weakened immune system.
To share more details we looked to our wellness partner, Parsley Health. They help their members get to the root cause of these issues and resolve them naturally. Many chronic diseases can be traced to disturbances in the natural cortisol pattern. Whether you’re dealing with a lot of stress or just want to ensure you’re supporting your natural cortisol levels, there are a few things you can do.
1. Do a deep breathing exercise.
Your body releases cortisol when the autonomic nervous system is activated, but you can shut off this stress response by instead activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This causes cortisol levels drop and you can get back to the body’s natural cortisol rhythm. One easy way to do this is through regulating your breathing. At Parsley Health, we recommend the 4-7-8 breathing exercise: exhale all the air from your lungs, then breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale completely for a count of eight. Repeat several breath cycles.
2. Eat a healthy carb at dinner.
A small amount of healthy carbs like quinoa, brown rice, squash, or sweet potato eaten at dinner can regulate blood sugar levels and help you have a better sleep. That’s because cortisol and insulin have an inverse relationship, so when cortisol is high, insulin is low. When you eat a healthy carb in the evening, your insulin spikes, lowering your cortisol and better prepping you to wind down for the night.
3. Set an earlier bedtime.
Cortisol levels follow a natural curve throughout the day, beginning at their highest point in the morning, when you need energy to get moving, and reaching their lowest point at night, when it’s time to go to bed. This low point usually happens around 10 p.m., so it’s best to get to bed by then. If you stay up later, your body delivers another cortisol spike to provide energy, which can then make it difficult to fall asleep later.
Test Your Cortisol Levels
We've partnered up with Parsley to offer a complimentary cortisol test kit for our insiders and clients when you sign up for Parsley Health. Don't miss out - This offer expires midnight, September 1st.
Contributed by Dr. Robin Berzin
Founder and CEO of Parsley Health,
Provenance Meals Wellness Partner
Parsley Health offers a holistic approach to healthcare. They believe in real, genuine, doctor-patient relationships, offering a 75 minute session with your doctor and a 45 minute health coaching session from the beginning. They're one of the only medical practices with a whole-body approach dedicated to your long-term health.
To learn more visit www.parsleyhealth.com.