Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in the body. It performs a number of important functions in the body including to reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar, and regulate metabolism. In fact, the body makes cortisol during times of stress or illness as a way to protect the body. Though high levels of cortisol can be beneficial short term, continued exposure to high levels of cortisol can have many negative effects on the body. The good news is that there some simple things that women can do to naturally reduce their cortisol levels.
Eat More Whole Grains
Whole grain foods work to balance blood sugar. As fluctuation in blood sugar level can increase cortisol production, consuming more whole grains will help to prevent the creation of excess cortisol. Eating more whole grain foods will also reduce the amount of processed foods that a person eats. This will also help to balance blood sugar levels as processed foods often contain large amounts of added sugar. Whole grains will also help a person to feel full more quickly and will promote proper digestion, both of which are important to overall health.
Though there is not a simple solution to any health problem, getting exercise is almost always part of the solution. Exercise can help to reduce cortisol in many ways. Exercise will keep blood sugar levels in check. Exercise will reduce stress levels and help people to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise also improves physical fitness which will help the body to respond better to anxiety. When a person experiences anxiety, her heart rate will increase, muscles will tense and breathing may become deeper. All of these things mimic physical exertion. A person who is in good physical condition will relax more quickly and produce less cortisol from a stressful event.
Those who experience any level of sleep deprivation generally have higher levels of cortisol. Unfortunately, many women have serious sleep problems. They do not sleep enough nor do they get high quality sleep. Exert opinions vary, but the standard recommendation of eight hours of sleep per night is a good goal. But eight hours of sleep is not enough. A person needs to sleep in a dark, comfortable room with minimal distractions. A person should also sleep on a regular schedule to help the body get into a rhythm. Caffeine should not be consumed in the evenings as it can prevent a person from getting into the deep levels of sleep where the body gets the best rest.
While eating better, exercising and getting a good’s night sleep may not completely solve a person’s cortisol problem, it will make a big difference for most women.