How to Reduce Cortisol

Two Methods:Making Changes to Your DietMaking Changes to Your Lifestyle

Cortisol is a stress-induced chemical that is released by the adrenal gland. While some cortisol is beneficial for survival, some people overproduce cortisol. When this happens, you may notice you feel anxious, stressed out and have a tendency to gain weight. It is imperative to take action, once you notice any or all of these symptoms. Reducing the amount of cortisol produced within your body can have a positive effect on your overall health and leave you feeling more relaxed and balanced.

Method 1
Making Changes to Your Diet

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    Cut back or eliminate all drinks with large amounts of caffeine in them. This includes all sodas, energy drinks, and coffee. Drinking caffeine causes a spike in cortisol levels. The good news, if there is any, is that cortisol responses are reduced, but not eliminated, in people who drink caffeine regularly.[1]
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    Reduce the amount of processed foods in your diet. Processed foods, especially simple carbohydrates and sugar, cause a spike in cortisol.[2] Too many processed foods increase blood sugar levels, which in turn causes you to feel anxious.
    • The following[3] refined carbohydrates are definitely things that you should try to avoid:
      • White bread
      • "Regular" pasta (not whole wheat)
      • White rice
      • Candies, cakes, chocolates, etc.
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    Make sure you're getting enough water. One study has found that just a half-liter of dehydration can raise cortisol levels.[4] Dehydration is nasty because it's a vicious cycle: stress can cause dehydration, and dehydration can cause stress. Make sure you sip plenty of water throughout the day to cut back on your chance of unhealthy cortisol levels.
    • If your urine is darker colored when you go pee, it's probably a sign that you're not drinking enough water. Adequately-hydrated individuals have urine that is light, almost water-like, in appearance.
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    Try out rhodiola when your cortisol is high. Rhodiola is an herbal supplement related to ginseng, and a popular folk remedy for lowering cortisol. It reputedly ramps up your energy, helps you burn fat, and lowers your cortisol levels while it's at it.
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    Get more fish oil into your diet. According to doctors, just 2,000 mg of fish oil per day lowers your cortisol levels.[5] If you don't want to chew down supplements, you can eat the following fish for healthy supplies of fish oil:
    • Salmon
    • Sardines
    • Mackerel
    • Sea bass

Method 2
Making Changes to Your Lifestyle

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    Prepare a pot of hot black tea. Scientists have discovered that drinking black tea was found to lower overall cortisol levels in a group of people performing stressful tasks.[6] So next time you feel the cortisol bubbling up and threatening to unleash itself in a torrent of stress, grab a cup of English breakfast tea and zen out.
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    Try meditation techniques. Meditation activates the Vagus nerve, which triggers a response in your body to lower cortisol levels, among other things.[7] Meditation techniques can run the gamut, from taking deep breaths to allowing your mind to wander to a peaceful place. For best results, participate in meditation for 30 minutes a day, three to four times a week. After the first session, you should see a significant difference in how your body feels.
    • Sit in a quiet, dark, room. Allow your mind to meditate. If you need help relaxing, visualize a quiet, peaceful place. Imagine how your body feels when it is relaxed. Try to recreate this feeling within your body. This helps to relieve muscle tension within the body.
    • Allow the eyes to close. Take deep breaths in and out until you notice your heart rate slowing down. Notice the beating of your heart and its sounds when you are relaxed. Imagine that all of the tension is radiating out of your body through your fingertips and toes. Feel the release of tension throughout your entire body.
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    Watch a funny movie or listen to a funny story. Joyous laughter can actually curb your body's production of cortisol, according to FASEB.[8]So sidle up to a funny friend or remind yourself of a mirthful memory in order to lower cortisol.
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    Try adaptive exercises to target a lowering of your cortisol. Exercise is a stress-buster, right? So wouldn't all exercise be beneficial in lowering cortisol? Not exactly. The problem is that running and other cardio exercises raise your heart rate, ultimately increasing cortisol.
    • Try yoga or Pilates for an adaptive exercise that burns calories, works your muscles, and lowers cortisol too.
    • Try other adaptive exercises using the Wii console, for example, to get your heart rate up without that unhealthy spike in cortisol.
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    Listen to some tunes. Music therapy has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in patients undergoing screening colonoscopy.[9] So the next time you're feeling stressed or slammed, put on some soothing music and let it put a curtain on your cortisol.


  • If you are losing sleep due to the cause of elevated cortisol levels, you might want to take a melatonin lozenge, which helps the body get ready for sleep and stay asleep.


  • Speak with your doctor before taking any over the counter sleeping medication. This is because these sleeping medications may interfere with prescribed medications you are taking.

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