The world as a whole has come to think of high levels of stress as completely normal. Hearing people utter the words “I’m so stressed out,” is as commonplace as the greeting “good morning.” Our modern-day high-tech, fast-paced lifestyles, have elevated stress to epidemic levels – we know this. What you may not know, is that this assault frequently leaves our bodies with a chronic output of the stress hormone cortisol.
What’s so bad About Stress?
Acute stress isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the body needs spikes in cortisol to function to handle such short-term issues as exercising or having a cold. Normal cortisol levels help the body control blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and even inflammation. But, have you ever heard the saying “too much of a good thing?” This applies well to the body’s response to prolonged stress. When stress becomes chronic it wreaks havoc.
Signs & Symptoms of a Cortisol Imbalance
Chronically elevated cortisol levels (stress hormones) may contribute to:
- Thyroid problems
- Cognitive decline
- Sleep disorders
- Anxiety & depression
- Compromised immune function
- Increased blood pressure
That list may have you wondering if you’re a victim of increased cortisol levels. While we recommend speaking with a physician rather than self-diagnosing, the following questions may help you discern if you’re suffering from a cortisol imbalance.
- Do you suffer from depression, anxiety, nervousness or irritability?
- Do you struggle with sleep waking frequently in the middle of the night, unable to get back to sleep?
- Do you feel light headed when standing up quickly?
- Do you crave carbs?
- Do you struggle with weight gain?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
If you answered yes to more than one of those questions, you may have a cortisol imbalance. Here at Atlas, we believe you shouldn’t guess when it comes to your health. For that reason we recommend having your cortisol values determined via a 4-point salivary test. Saliva has been proven to be a better source of cortisol testing over blood and offers concrete results.
Tips for Controlling Cortisol Levels
We highly recommend working closely with a physician or other qualified health practitioner when it comes to achieving healthy cortisol levels. However, these lifestyle changes may be of help when dealing with a cortisol imbalance.
- Eat REAL food. Limit or avoid packaged, processed and non-organic foods.
- Avoid additives and dyes. Additives, preservatives, GMOs, dyes, food coloring, hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics increase the toxic load to the liver – adding stress to the body.
- Avoid sugars. Cortisol causes gluconeogenesis, the production of sugar from non-carb sources – elevating blood sugar levels. Avoid a diet heavy in starchy carbohydrates and added sugars to help counteract the response of cortisol.
- Eat healthy fats. Omega-3 fatty acids, are anti-inflammatory and help counter the inflammatory effects of cortisol. Try adding a quality omega 3 fish oil into your daily diet.
- Drink water! Water will help hydrate cells and detoxify the body. Make sure you stay hydrated!
- Get Your ZZZ’s. Sleep is the most important thing when it comes to reducing cortisol and restoring the adrenal glands. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep. Have trouble falling asleep? Turn off all artificial light. Artificial light tricks the body into releasing more cortisol, suppressing melatonin, making it difficult to fall asleep.
We can help you determine if you are suffering from a cortisol imbalance. Call us today, we are eager to help you achieve your wellness goals.