High Cortisol: Causes, Consequences and Solutions

The human body secretes a steroid hormone called cortisol. Above 23 micrograms per deciliter of blood, cortisol reaches a high level and can cause health risks.

How Is Cortisol Produced in the Body?

Cortisol is a steroid hormone more commonly known as the stress hormone. Cortisol is produced from cholesterol under the dependence of ACTH (Adreno Cortico Tropic Hormone). It is secreted by the adrenal glands, more precisely, by the fasciculated zone of the cortex, i.e., the outer part of it.

The primary function of this hormone is to balance the blood glucose level. This allows energy to be released from the body’s reserves, which is distributed to the muscles and organs to react effectively. It also acts as a steroidal anti-inflammatory and promotes sleep regulation.

What Causes High Cortisol Levels?

Normal blood levels of cortisol are between 5 and 23 micrograms per deciliter. In the urine, cortisol levels are between 10 and 100 micrograms in 24 hours.

The leading cause of high cortisol is stress. Certain medications such as estrogen can also increase cortisol levels. Between the third and ninth months of pregnancy, an increase of more than 50% is noticed, but it returns to standard eight days after delivery. Alcoholism and obesity also increase cortisol levels.

What Causes a Significant Increase in Cortisol Levels?

To recognize a significant increase in cortisol levels, it is best to do tests. These are carried out around 8 a.m. because the cortisol level is highest and most stable then. High cortisol levels cause physical changes such as hair loss, weight gain in the upper body and neck area. This phenomenon is called facio-truncular obesity.

In some cases, the patient may experience facial flushing, excess hair growth, bruising, hematoma, and red stretch marks. In extreme cases, muscle weakness, thinning, and skin weakening may occur. The consequences are harmful to children because high cortisol levels immediately slow down their growth. This increase in cortisol levels is also the cause of mental disorders, irritability, mood swings, permanent fatigue, attention and sleep disorders, and even depression.

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What Can Be Done About High Cortisol Levels?

The leading cause of high cortisol levels is stress, a defense mechanism that causes cortisol to be released. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid it as much as possible. But how?

A healthy diet is the best weapon against stress. To do this, avoid the sugar contained in industrial cakes, pastries, and sweetened drinks. At the same time, avoid white pasta or bread, which contain complex carbohydrates.

To Reduce Cortisol Levels:

  • Give priority to certain minerals such as omega 3. You can get them by eating different types of fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, or halibut.
  • In addition to fish, eat dark chocolate, rich in magnesium, and spinach, rich in vitamin B9.
  • Give priority to natural fats in your daily diet. For this, avocado and oleaginous foods are your best allies.
  • Sleep is also essential. To stimulate it, do abdominal breathing exercises before going to sleep. Why not try meditation as well? Avoid caffeine as much as possible, and don’t tire yourself out an hour before going to bed.

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