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All women need to know about Cortisol

I am writing this blog about cortisol because I think as women, we need to be more aware of this hormone in our stressful very busy lives.

Just stop for a moment and think about your life and how stressed you feel, do you have weight gain that you cannot lose, do you have memory loss and brain fog, feel tired but still push your body to try and lose weight by doing exercise classes, running or going to the gym most days?

What if your body is creating more cortisol through your busy stressful lifestyle and the high impact gym training and running and all those things you are doing to try and lose weight are actually increasing your cortisol which is increasing your weight gain.

Cortisol is a stress hormone released by your adrenal glands make and release the hormone cortisol into your blood stream.

Cortisol helps your body deal with stressful situations as your brain triggers its release in response to many different kinds of stress, however when cortisol levels are too high for too long this hormone can hurt you more than it helps.

Overtime high levels of cortisol may cause weight gain, high blood pressure, disrupts sleep, negatively impact your mood and reduce your energy levels and contributes to diabetes.

It may cause fatigue, affect your memory and contribute to mental cloudiness or brain fog, it also hampers your immune system and make you more prone to infections.

In very rare cases very high cortisol levels can lead to crushing’s syndrome a very rare but serious disease, fortunately there are many things you can do to reduce your levels.

Lifestyle diet and relaxation tips to lower your cortisol levels;

No caffeine at night.

Limit exposure to bright light at night.

Limit distractions before bed.

Take naps.

Have adequate sleep, go to bed each night at the same time wake up at the same time and get out in the sunshine.

Limit alcohol

Exercise but not too much only doing moderate exercise using 40 to 60% of maximum effort.

Avoid stressful thinking, try mindfulness and replace worrying or anxiety with thoughts of gratitude and positivity.

Listen to relaxing music for 30 minutes every day.

Have fun, cortisol levels decrease in response to laughter.

Develop a hobby like gardening to decrease your levels.

Look after your own happiness.

Maintain healthy relationships, friends and family are a great source of happiness in life as well as great stress.

Try not to be judgemental, be empathic and forgiving to create a stable and warm family life.

Interact with a pet, studies show that interacting with an animal companion reduces stress and lowers cortisol levels.

Be your best self, feelings of shame guilt or inadequacy can later create negative thinking and elevated cortisol.

Develop a habit of forgiving others is critical in relationships, learn to forgive yourself and move on.

Improve your well-being as a couple maybe research a facilitator to help forgiveness and resolve conflict, this will reduce your cortisol levels.

Perform acts of kindness to improve your cortisol levels.

Try different relaxation techniques.

Go for a monthly massage to reduce stress and relax muscles.

Eat a whole food plant-based diet

If needed add supplements.

Take deep breaths

Reduce your caffeine intake and processed food.

write in a journal

Indulge in hobbies

Taking certain supplements fish oil supplements and an Asian herbal medicine called ashwagandha have both been shown to reduce cortisol levels.

Taking turmeric, curcumins have a positive antidepressant and anti-anxiety effect and can lower stress hormones such as cortisol.

Try lemon balm and camomile.

Stay hydrated.

Drinking green tea can lower the level of stress hormone cortisol, half a cup a day lowers the risk of developing depression and dementia to, can only be a good thing.

So, our natural flight or fight response in our bodies has kept us alive for thousands of years.

When cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight or flight mechanism this causes heightened levels of breathing and an increase in heart rate these short-term bursts of cortisol are necessary to help us recover from the effects of stress

If you have to much cortisol you may see and experience the following;

Rapid weight gain, mainly in the face the chest and abdomen contrasted with slender arms and legs.

You may get a flushed and round face.

High blood pressure.

Osteoporosis.

Skin changes, as in bruises and purple stretch marks.

Muscle weakness.

Mood swings which show in anxiety, depression or irritability.

You can develop a food intolerance to any food especially if you have a high stress life and have elevated cortisol, but most common ones are beef eggs shellfish gluten grains tree nuts and some protein.

Stress and physical and emotional stress constantly within hour 24/7 drain the body of magnesium it is shown in studies at the higher the magnesium the lower the cortisol.

(Take magnesium as a supplement or have an Epsom salt bath as magnesium through the skin is one of the best ways of receiving it.)

Elevated cortisol levels may lead to overeating and weight gain.

I wanted to share this blog with you today because I think that many of us are effected by cortisol which can have a dramatic effect on our lives and all we have to do is breathe, relax and self-care.

So, let’s stop giving ourselves a hard time, we were not born to be perfect! Stop pushing our bodies when they say no, just quieten your mind and listen.


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