By: Dana Yarn, RDLD
It has almost become a cliché to be diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency or similar term. Adrenal insufficiency is related to excessive, sporadic, and/or low cortisol production. Some health professionals say that some practitioners use it as a “catch all” diagnosis. Regardless of what labs, or symptoms may reveal we all can be affected by stress and stress hormones and the harmful effects of insufficient cortisol.
Insufficient cortisol production can result in poor sleep, weight gain specifically in the abdominal area, excessive cravings for carbohydrates and sugar, low sex drive and inability to mentally focus. Stress hormone imbalances can increase risk for heart disease, thyroid disease, gastrointestinal stress and nutrient absorption.
By making small changes in your daily life you can offset the negative effects of a cortisol imbalance.
Stress hormone management strategies:
Reduce caffeine consumption. False energy from stimulants will only reduce the body’s ability to naturally produce adrenaline. Stick to 1-2 cups of coffee and/or tea daily, avoid chemically packed energy drinks and fat burning stimulant supplements.
Aim for eight hours of sleep per night. Give up some screen time and hit the sack. The difference between 6 and 8 hours of sleep is incredible. Studies have shown that those who sleep 6 hours or less will have elevated cortisol levels for the next 48 hours. 8 hours is enough time for your body to naturally repair from the days stressors. If you have problems sleeping consider supplementing with melatonin, a sleep hormone that can help the body fall asleep more easily.
Book a monthly massage. Massage helps naturally detoxify the lymphatic system. A massage naturally increases dopamine and serotonin levels, those “good mood” hormones that are also increased when playing and doing something that you truly enjoy.
Sleep naked. Sleeping in the buff has been shown to naturally reduce cortisol levels because it keeps you cooler allowing the body to produce adequate melatonin and growth hormone allowing the body to have proper rest naturally decreasing cortisol.
Cut back on the sweet stuff. Sugar can naturally increase inflammation and cortisol production. Reducing sugar especially from processed sources is one of the best ways to keep stress hormone levels under control.