What alters blood cortisol levels? Whatever the causes that cause high cortisol, it is always good to evaluate them by paying attention to the symptoms that our body can present to us.
Cortisol or hydrocortisone is known as the stress hormone precisely because it allows the body to respond to stressful situations, whether environmental, psychological, or physical. But it would be wrong to associate this steroid hormone, produced by the adrenal glands, with only functions related to stress.
Many cells in our body are equipped with receptors of this hormone which they use for many vital functions such as:
- regulation of blood sugar
- reduction of inflammatory states
- metabolism regulation
- memory creation
Although cortisol is important for our body, its increase can often lead to a series of unwanted symptoms.
The hormone cortisol plays a significant role in regulating blood sugar levels and is released into the bloodstream during stressful or anxiety-provoking situations. Chronic stress and daily anxiety can cause the body to release more and more, which can lead to high blood pressure and increased clotting.
Cortisol Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands are small structures located at the top of each kidney. They have different shapes: the right is pyramidal and the left is a crescent. They are responsible for the production of hormones essential for life and their function is to regulate the responses to stress, through the synthesis of corticosteroids ( especially cortisol ) and catecholamines ( adrenaline ). Hydrocortisone helps respond to stress, among other functions.
The adrenal glands are also not in exactly the same place. The left adrenal gland is not quite superior but medial. These glands are supplied by the branches of the lower phrenic artery, the middle adrenal artery (branch of the aorta of the abdomen), the upper polar artery (which comes from a branch of the renal artery), and the external arch of the kidney.
The Function Of The Adrenal Gland
The adrenal glands are small but have a very important function in the body, as they produce more hormones that participate in the development, and growth and affect our ability to manage stress, also regulating kidney function.
Therefore, the adrenal glands have two functions, one nervous and one endocrine:
- Endocrine function. They secrete hormones that are involved in the regulation of the electrolyte/water balance. Also, other hormones maintain the correct levels of glucose, proteins, and fats, with catabolic, anti-inflammatory, and thermogenic functions. They also produce anabolic and masculinizing hormones.
- Nerve function. The glands allow for a correct response to stress.
Causes Of High Cortisol
The effects of high cortisol are often caused by pathological causes, but also by factors not necessarily related to medical problems.
The stress hormone plays an important role during a sporting activity that is too demanding or with poorly managed efforts, so much so as to affect the onset of overtraining syndrome .
If we are faced with a stressor or danger, our body sends hormones that help awaken the fight or flight reaction behavior.
A constantly stressed body will tend to produce these excess hormones.
Increased blood sugars modulate the functions of the digestive system; it involves the immune system, cell, and tissue growth processes, and the reproductive system.
Prolonged stress causes high levels of the hormone in the blood, leading to disease in the body. These diseases include digestive problems, obesity, sleep problems, fatigue, and depression.
Some tumors stimulate the production of cortisol, including pituitary gland tumors and Cushing’s syndrome.
The pituitary or pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain and a tumor (only 0.2% is a carcinoma) affecting this gland impairs the production of cortisol and other hormones .
Medicines And Other Diseases
There are many variables that allow cortisol levels to rise, including pregnancy;
- low blood sugar levels caused by prolonged fasting
- improper or extreme eating habits
- alcohol abuse
- excessive exercise without recovery
- severe liver or kidney disease
- hyperthyroidism and medication intake
Drugs that can affect hydrocortisone levels include birth control pills, estrogen, amphetamines, and corticosteroids.
High Cortisol Symptoms
The symptoms of high cortisol cause various effects on the body, sometimes comparable to those of low cortisol. Symptoms vary depending on the causes of the increase in its levels and whether you have Cushing’s syndrome.
General symptoms of high cortisol can be:
- weight gain, especially in the torso section and upper back
- rounded face due to weight gain
- alteration of the water and salt balance (sodium-potassium)
- skin thinning and cracking
- redness of the face
- bruises that appear easily
- slowed healing
- muscle weakness
- significant fatigue
- drop in testosterone
- absence or delay of the menstrual cycle
- difficulty or inability to concentrate
- high blood pressure
The Remedies For High Cortisol
Remedies to lower high cortisol vary according to the causes that cause it to rise :
- mental stress
- stress from excess physical activity and training
- Cushing’s syndrome
How To Lower The Stress Hormone
If the high cortisol is not caused by Cushing’s syndrome, the correct and regular diet and decreasing the stressors can solve the problem.
What To Eat To Lower Cortisol
Nutrition also plays an important role in the production of this hormone.
It is more secreted when the diet has an excess of carbohydrates with a high glycemic index; this is due to the hyperstimulating effect on insulin which can cause insulin resistance and weight gain.
List of other foods recommended to lower cortisol:
- Sweet potatoes
- Black beans
- Brussels sprouts
The stress hormone can also be kept under control with the use of some herbs and spices suitable for combating stress and adrenal fatigue which are natural supplements to lower cortisol.
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