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Can Cortisol Monitoring Help Turnaround PTSD?

November 12, 2022

Health

Can Cortisol Monitoring Help Turnaround PTSD? PTSD and depression – the most reported symptoms – are all brought about by cortisol.

Could Cortisol Confirm Long COVID Diagnosis?

August 30, 2022

Health

Long COVID manifests itself as new or worsening chronic health problems that continue or start 4 weeks or more after the initial infection.

Breakthrough: Cortisol Plays a Critical Role in Menopause

July 26, 2022

Health

Medically reviewed by Ioana Bina, MD, PhD Menopause is one of the biggest biological changes women go through. After all, it doesn’t only...

Cortisol: The No. 1 Overlooked Infertility Factor?

September 27, 2022

Health

As little as 20% higher cortisol levels over time can halt ovulation directly affecting women's fertility.

An Invitation

November 1, 2022

Book Excerpt – and source

“ Here’s what you do once you have the Pardigm app on your phone. When you wake up, collect your saliva by using a rapid test salivary...

Chapter 5, Stress, Infertility and Cortisol

October 27, 2022

Book Excerpt – and source

“As self-proclaimed busy bees, we are sensitive to allegations that we put in too many hours at the office. We’re both? driven...

An Invitation

October 21, 2022

Book Excerpt – and source

"Say hello to cortisol, your body’s master hormone. It’s the friend that helped your ancestors flee predators in the African savannas....

Chapter 2, Why You Should Measure Your Cortisol Levels

October 25, 2022

Book Excerpt – and source

“Cortisol is produced from cholesterol through multiple enzymatic steps by specialized cells in the outer portion of the adrenal glands,...

Inside an Olympic Athlete’s Cortisol Rhythm During the National Championship

June 25, 2022

Sport

Olympian Shadrack Kipchirchir won the USA Track & Field Championships in January 2022. Here's what happened to his body on race day...

Does Science Want You to Skip Breakfast?

May 11, 2022

Food

There's a big debate about breakfast — not only how it affects our health and weight, but if it’s even necessary. Here's what science says.

Hot Saunas and Hormetic Stress: A New Way to Fight Anxiety?

April 1, 2022

Health

The key to fighting stress might be more stress. New research shows how hormetic stress can build your resiliency. Here are 4 examples.

Research Shows Lockdowns Changed Your Body Chemistry

March 22, 2022

Health

During the pandemic, the stress of lockdowns affected public health. Let's look at the science of loneliness and what it does to your body.

Cortisol & Health Risk 

How Cortisol Impacts Your Health

When stress builds over time, it can work against you without you even realizing it. And that’s when your health is at serious risk.

What Is Cortisol

November 12, 2022

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

When you think about stress, what comes to mind? Looming work deadlines, financial worries, feeling overwhelmed? In today’s world, stress can take on countless forms. Sometimes, it’s even a force of good. But a key reason behind it all is often overlooked. In this article we’ll explain everything: the good, the bad, the ugly, and why controlling your stress can be a matter of life or death.

High Cortisol Levels and the risk of Heart and Vascular Disease

October 11, 2022

High cortisol levels from long-term stress put you more at risk of a host of health problems, including increased blood cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides and blood pressure. All factors linked to heart and vascular disease. To top it off, stress is also linked to a buildup of plaque in the arteries. All of that underscores why the American Heart Association recently cited studies that found work-related stress increased the risk of heart disease by 40%.

Improve Athletic Performance by Measuring Your Cortisol

April 7, 2022

Did You Know Cortisol Testing Can Help Optimize Recovery and  Establish Preparedness for Training and Competition?

Here’s a surprising fact: Sometimes, training more can actually make you weaker. It sounds counterintuitive, but overtraining can set you back and increases the risk of injuries. Sometimes, it’s better to take a break and allow your body to recover. Sometimes, less really is more.

Take Your Training to the Next Level With These Tools

April 6, 2022

A Look at Heart Rate Variability and Cortisol Testing

It's time to dig into the best tools for improving your training. Let's look behind the science of two well-established markers of training readiness and recovery: HRV and cortisol.

Cortisol and Burnout

February 1, 2022

How Chronic Stress Leads to Total Exhaustion

We all know how it feels to be stressed. Stress, after all, is part of our everyday lives. It’s that feeling we get whenever we face a new demand and our body goes into high alert. It’s why we often think of stressed people as tense or on edge.

Cortisol and Weight Loss

February 1, 2022

Here’s Why So Many Diets Fail

It’s like that Greek myth about the man cursed to roll a boulder up a steep hill for eternity. Every time he neared the top, the boulder would roll back down. And he’d have to start all over again.

Cortisol and Mental Disorders

December 3, 2021

It might not surprise you to learn that chronic stress is linked to a variety of mental disorders, including anxiety and depression. In fact, many depressed people have elevated cortisol levels and lower serotonin. Studies show those with depression have their cortisol peak earlier in the morning than typical. And those levels don’t decrease in the afternoon or evening the way they should.

Cortisol and Memory Loss

December 3, 2021

Do you happen to remember stressful moments better? That’s because high cortisol levels can help you store memories. It makes evolutionary sense. If your flight-or-flight-or-freeze response gets triggered, something important is happening in your life. That’s why the systems that regulate emotional arousal and memory are so closely connected.

However, too much cortisol can also create the opposite effect, damaging your recall abilities. Research looking at 1,225 individuals found those with higher cortisol levels had a more difficult time remembering specific events.

Cortisol and Osteoporosis

December 3, 2021

When people feel overstressed, they sometimes describe themselves as feeling fragile, almost brittle. That’s not just a metaphor. When dealing with chronic stress and high cortisol levels, your bones are actually more at risk of breaking. The reason? Well, high cortisol can impair the bone formation process. That’s why high levels are associated with lower bone mineral density and weaker bones.

Cortisol and How it Affects Your Lifespan

December 3, 2021

Surprisingly, stress (and cortisol) plays a remarkable role in our DNA. And it comes down to something called the telomere. See, when our cells divide, they lose a bit of their telomeres — a protective cap at the end of a DNA strand. An enzyme called telomerase can restock it, but cortisol exposure can reduce this supply. When the telomere is too diminished, the cell may die. And this kick-starts the aging process.

Cortisol and Fertility Problems

December 3, 2021

Cortisol plays a vital role in our reproductive system. When our stress levels rise, our main sex hormone, gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), gets suppressed. As a result, sperm count, ovulation and sexual activity can decrease.

To see an example of stress’s role in fertility, let’s turn to the high-stress medical field. In a 2016 survey of female physicians, nearly one in four of those who’d tried to have a baby were diagnosed with infertility — almost double the rate of the general public. Stress played a clear role here.

Cortisol & Stress Relief

How to Reduce Your Cortisol

Cortisol is your body’s main stress hormone. Think of it as your body’s natural alarm system. While you produce it daily in order to help regulate your sleep-wake cycle, your metabolism, your blood pressure and more … cortisol levels surge in your bloodstream during periods of stress.

What Is Cortisol

November 12, 2022

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

When you think about stress, what comes to mind? Looming work deadlines, financial worries, feeling overwhelmed? In today’s world, stress can take on countless forms. Sometimes, it’s even a force of good. But a key reason behind it all is often overlooked. In this article we’ll explain everything: the good, the bad, the ugly, and why controlling your stress can be a matter of life or death.

Spend 20 Minutes Walking in Nature

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

When you’re stressed, take a break and go outside. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel good, but it has very measurable impacts on your physical health. It reduces your heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, LDL cholesterol and cortisol levels. Meanwhile, it also lowers instances of stroke, hypertension, asthma and coronary heart disease.
In one 2019 study, researchers were even able to quantify how much time should be spent outside for the optimal benefits. Participants who spent 20 to 30 minutes outside, at least three times a week, saw a significant drop in cortisol levels. However, levels dropped in as little as 10 minutes. Studies also underscore that walking in nature does more than simply viewing it or walking in an urban environment.

Learn Deep Breathing to Relieve Stress

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

Meditation reduces stress for a number of reasons, but here's a little-known one: It encourages deep breathing. Deep, controlled breathing exercises not only help prepare your body to handle stressful events, they’re also linked to decreases in cortisol.

It comes down to our body’s wiring. Stress triggers our sympathetic nervous system, activating our fight-or-flight response. Cue increases in cortisol, blood pressure, breathing rates, etc.

When we take a moment to calm ourselves, to breathe slowly and deeply, our parasympathetic system takes over. This system controls our body when at rest and helps us relax. So, by controlling our rapid, shallow breaths, we’re essentially pausing our bodies’ fight-or-flight alarm system.

That’s why deep breathing exercises – also called paced respiration, diaphragmatic breathing and abdominal breathing – are beneficial to our overall health. They impact our brains, hearts, digestion, immune system and more. Try incorporating some regular 10-minute (or longer) breathing exercises into your day.

In one example, simply sit or lie flat in a comfortable position. Breathe deeply through your nose, and let your belly fully expand as you fill your lungs. Then breathe out slowly through your mouth, deflating your belly. You may feel the benefits pretty quickly.

Meditate or Practice Meditative Yoga

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

Meditation is a powerful way of managing stress, anxiety and depression. In one meta-analysis, researchers found that it reduced cortisol as well as blood pressure, heart rate, triglycerides and more. This makes sense considering that simply worrying over past or future events can prolong your cortisol release. And mediation requires the practice of mindfulness. In one observational study, larger increases in mindfulness were linked to decreases in cortisol later in the day.

In the same vein, yoga also helps. It can increase mindfulness while decreasing cortisol. But the type of yoga matters. In one study, researchers found that cortisol levels were significantly lower after meditative (Hatha style) yoga, but remained the same following power (Vinyasa style) yoga.

Try Aerobic Exercise (But Don’t Overdo It)

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

It’s no secret that a sedentary lifestyle adds to stress. Sitting for over eight hours a day has been linked to a greater risk for depression, anxiety and chronic stress. Exercise is a natural answer. Aside from improving your overall health, exercise can directly influence your cortisol levels, depending on the intensity.

Higher intensity exercise can increase your cortisol, although it will decrease later in the day. It initially rises to manage your body’s growth as you tackle the stressful exercise. Interestingly, with routine training, your system adapts. Your hormonal response is muted. And in some cases, you can lower your base cortisol levels. That comes with a host of potential health implications for dealing with chronic stress.

While higher intensity exercise momentarily increases your levels, researchers have found that lower intensity exercise can decrease it. In fact, when researchers studied those with major depressive disorder, which is linked to chronic stress and an imbalance of cortisol levels, they found that not only does exercise help lower cortisol, the type (aerobic) and frequency (five times a week) helped too. Just be careful. Excessive exercise can cause more stress, leading to overtraining syndrome.

Get Enough Sleep (But what is Enough?)

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

Often, we’re told to get more sleep to help with health concerns. But we’re not told exactly why. Well, cortisol is one reason. As we mentioned earlier, cortisol is part of managing your sleep-wake cycle.

Studies show that people with chronic sleep problems, think apnea, insomnia, or other forms of sleep deprivation, have higher cortisol levels during the day. It might be your body’s way of stimulating more alertness to counteract the lack of rest.

On the other hand, high cortisol levels can also disrupt your sleep, causing further insomnia and fatigue. That’s why it’s important to interrupt this unhealthy cycle. Have a bedroom routine, and stick to it. Keep your bedroom dark and cool. Put away electronics before bed. And aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night.

Change Your Coffee Habits to Relieve Stress

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

Many people love their morning cup of joe. It can feel wonderful to sip on a hot mug of coffee right after waking up. But did you know that caffeine increases your cortisol production? That’s why it’s important to monitor your caffeine habits, particularly when you drink your coffee.

See, your natural cortisol levels peak about 30 to 45 minutes after waking up. Then they slowly decline throughout the day, reaching their lowest around midnight. If you drink coffee when your natural levels are at their highest, it may lessen coffee’s energizing benefits. Meanwhile, it could further increase your cortisol production. And as we know, high levels of cortisol over long periods can damage your health.

Further long-term studies are needed, but if your cortisol levels are too high, it might be best to delay your coffee to mid or late morning (or eliminate caffeine altogether). And try not to drink coffee later in the evening. Caffeine’s effects can last anywhere from three to five hours. In fact, about half of the caffeine consumed remains in your body after five hours. That’s why drinking coffee in the evening could disrupt your sleep cycle. And as we know, a regular sleep cycle is vital to managing stress.

Think Before you Drink (Too Much) Alcohol

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

Alcohol is one drink that could be adding to your cortisol levels. Researchers found a positive association between cortisol and alcohol consumption. In men, for example, they saw a 3% increase in cortisol per unit of alcohol consumed. To top it off, in heavy drinkers, cortisol’s natural decline over the day was reduced. This suggests that heavy alcohol consumption can cause chronic changes to our stress response.

And while alcohol may make you drowsy, encouraging you to fall sleep quickly, it can actually erode your sleep quality. For example, it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is thought to be restorative. It also exacerbates sleep apnea by suppressing breathing. And the worse our sleep, the worse our stress.

So if you’re worried about high cortisol, it might be best to stop drinking.

Try Supplements to Reduce Stress

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

We want to ensure our bodies and brains are well-fueled. Otherwise, we’re adding more stressors to daily life. Here’s where a number of supplements may help. For example:

B-vitamins: These, including B6, B9 and B12, may have a number of positive effects on mood and stress. In one double-blind placebo-controlled study, 138 adults (aged 20 to 50 years) were administered a multivitamin containing B-vitamins versus placebo over a 16-week period. At 16 weeks, the group with the multivitamin saw an increased cortisol awakening response (CAR). This increase could represent an adaptive response to everyday demands.

Magnesium: After a 24-week study, the group taking magnesium saw lower cortisol levels when compared with the placebo group.

Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic Ayurvedic herb, has been often used to combat and reduce stress and anxiety. In one study, cortisol levels were reduced with both 250 mg/day and 600 mg/day. Compared to the placebo group, the Ashwagandha group also noticed a significant improvement in sleep quality.

Please note: Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or health condition.

Drink More Water to Stay Hydrated!

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

Here’s a simple way to manage your stress: Drink more water. Often, people don’t even realize they’re dehydrated. And that can add stress to our bodies. After all, our organs, including our brains, need water to function well. If you’re dehydrated, your body isn’t running properly.

In fact, if you’re just dehydrated by half a liter, it can increase your cortisol levels. And when you’re stressed, you’re at greater risk of dehydration. Aside from forgetting to drink more water, your heart rate may rise and your breathing may increase, causing you to lose more fluid.

Stress leads to more stress. In fact, in one study, researchers found that mildly-dehydrated soccer players saw a greater cortisol response to friendly matches, suggesting dehydration added to their stress.

How a Healthy Diet Helps you to Relieve Stress

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

We need to give our bodies the fuel they need to perform better, so we need to talk about diet. As we know, a nutritious diet does wonders for overall health. It can protect your body from infections and diseases (like heart disease, diabetes, cancer), while improving your mood, energy and focus.

So it might not surprise you that certain foods directly affect your cortisol levels. For example, one study found that foods high in sugar, refined grains and saturated fats can increase your cortisol compared to a whole food diet.

On the other hand, there are a number of foods that can help relieve your cortisol levels. And many of them fall into the Mediterranean diet: think fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. The main reason comes down to this diet’s anti-inflammatory properties.

For example, healthy fats, specifically, food with omega-3 fatty acids, help reduce inflammation and, therefore, cortisol. The best food for this is fish. But you can also find this in avocados, olive oil, flax seeds, walnuts and more. Of course, this diet also provides a host of other health benefits, like more balanced blood sugar levels, which helps relieve stress.

And for a quick fix? Try dark chocolate, which is rich in polyphenols and magnesium. As we mentioned, magnesium can help lower cortisol. And polyphenols are organic compounds found in plant-based food, which are full of antioxidants and other health benefits.

Laugh More, Even If Forced

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

Have you heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine”? Well, we can’t say it’s necessarily the best. But it is an effective way to lower cortisol levels, along with releasing endorphins and a host of other health benefits.

One study examined the cortisol levels of those watching an hour-long funny video. A half hour after the video ended, their levels decreased more than the control group. And the effects stay true even if the laughter is forced. In one study of a “laughter yoga” group, which encourages prolonged voluntary laughter, participants saw a significant drop in cortisol levels while the control group did not. It seems you really can laugh away stress.

Spend Time with People for Stress Relief

December 6, 2021

How Cortisol Plays a Vital Role in Your Health

Your relationships with other people can lower your stress levels, as well as reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost overall mood.

Think about the relationships in your life that bring you peace. Maybe it’s a family member, a trusted friend or a coworker. Often these relationships calm us because we know what to expect from them. We know our role and the other person’s role, bringing a sense of stability. Studies back this up. They show when your social status feels stable, you feel more in control, and your cortisol levels remain lower.

Another study proves that social support can be just as effective as yoga for lowering depression, anxiety and overall stress. A group of prenatally depressed women were split into a yoga group and a social support group. Both met weekly for 12 weeks. At the end of each session, both groups saw lower cortisol levels.

And don’t forget another benefit of social support: hugging. Hugs or other positive physical interactions have also proven to dampen cortisol, raise oxytocin and lower systolic blood pressure during stressful events.

Last, but not least, it’s important to acknowledge your stress. To talk about it. After all, stress often has a root cause, be it financial worries, relationship problems, work deadlines, the death of a loved one or something else. Lifestyle changes can help you manage some of this, but they won’t get to the root cause.

When you address the underlying reason, that’s when you unlock true long-lasting stress management. And you can see the immediate impact on your health. In one study, cognitive behavioural therapy for stress management directly reduced cortisol levels in a group of pregnant women. So remember, a large part of stress relief is acknowledging the main cause and getting help.

How Stress Impacts You.

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