Cortisol is testosterones number one enemy! This is because prolonged elevated levels of cortisol blocks testosterone’s effect on the body. Studies have proven that there is a negative correlation between testosterone and cortisol, meaning if one increase the other will decrease.
So what is cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands under the direction of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Cortisol supports many functions in the body including keeping you awake, motivated and responsive to what happens around you. It is also involved in regulating blood sugar levels, metabolism, body fluid regulation, and the development of the fetus in pregnant women.
However, having chronically high cortisol levels leads to symptoms like hypertension, excess weight, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, low testosterone, and fertility issues.
In our discussion today, we will look at the 15 best ways to reduce cortisol and effectively balance other hormones including testosterone.
15 best Ways to Reduce Cortisol Levels
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese treatment method that has been in use for thousands of years. It involves applying pressure to specific points (acupressure points) within the body to achieve results in organs or body functions associated with the acupressure points. Acupuncture is also used to reduce stress and symptoms related to stress like headaches, joint or muscle pain, troubled sleep and circulatory problems. By reducing stress, acupuncture helps lower cortisol levels. Want to learn more about acupuncture? Check out my post (Can Acupuncture increase Libido?).
Meditation is a method of relaxing the body and mind, thereby reducing stress and the excess production of cortisol. Meditating regularly has been shown to reduce cortisol levels as well as the symptoms associated with stress. Meditation also improves mental and cardiac health.
3. Cut down on caffeine
While caffeine helps to keep you alert, it can cause your cortisol levels to rise which can keep you awake when you should be sleeping. Reducing your caffeine intake and limiting it to the early part of the day is recommended so that your body is caffeine-free prior to going to bed. You can also opt to take decaffeinated coffee or alternative beverages like tea.
4. Try Adaptogenic herbs
Studies of a number of herbs have led to the discovery that they have various positive effects in the body including antidepressant, antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-fatigue properties. Many of these adaptogenic herbs have been in use for thousands of years in the treatment of a number of conditions. Adaptogen herbs control cortisol levels by balancing different hormones in the body. The herbs include holy basil, ginseng, ashwaganda, licorice root, rhodiola, reishi and cordyceps mushrooms. If you are new to trying adaptogenic herbs you can start by getting adjusted to them by consuming them in tea form (5 best teas that reduce stress – Adaptogenic herbs).
5. Drink more water
If your body is dehydrated, your cortisol levels will increase. This is similar to what happens to electrolyte concentration when you don’t take adequate water. A study published by the American National Institutes of Health (NIH), involving nine males, showed that keeping the body well hydrated when exercising keeps cortisol levels down. For more information checkout my post (Is being dehydrated bad for testosterone and cortisol levels?).
6. Sleep 7 to 8 hours
Sleeping for 7 to 8 hours helps your cortisol levels to stabilize. If you have a normal sleep rhythm (circadian rhythm), your cortisol level decreases in the time prior to and during sleep and rises when you wake up and during the early parts of the day. However, this may not be the case if you don’t maintain a healthy sleeping habit. This is the reason you will find it hard to have continuous and restful sleep during the night. If this happens chronically, it could be a symptom of adrenal fatigue which goes with high cortisol levels. Aim to sleep for 7 – 8 hours every night to lower your cortisol levels to normal. Need help getting some high quality sleep? Check out this post (Sleeping Hacks For increased sex drive and testosterone levels).
7. Be social
Some studies suggest that a lonely person is 50 percent more likely to get heart disease than a social person. The study also says that loneliness is riskier to health than smoking. Isolation is also associated with more anxiety, stress, depression and aggression, which are in turn associated with higher levels of cortisol. Improving your social interactions when you are feeling stressed will help reduce your cortisol levels.
8. Spend some time in nature
Spending time in nature is my favorite way to reduce stress. Ill do this by taking a hike, biking or relaxing outdoors. Spending time in nature has been found to lower stress and the stress-hormone, cortisol. Studies at the University of Stanford have established that people who live in urban areas are more stressed, and therefore have higher levels of cortisol than people who live in the countryside. Need more proof check out my post (Escape the chaos and Reduce cortisol levels – Nature deprivation).
9. Healthy food healthy mind
A wholesome, healthy diet containing nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, A, C, D, and K, minerals such as magnesium, fiber, and antioxidants, as well as protein helps balance production of cortisol hormone in your body. Regular helpings of cold water fish, flax seeds, walnuts, rainbow and Swiss chard, papaya, citrus fruits, eggs, dark chocolate, organic beef liver, Greek yogurt, pumpkin seeds, and white beans will provide your body with these, cortisol-reducing nutrients. You will also need to reduce your consumption of cortisol increasing foods like refined food products, sugar and high sugar foods, excess caffeine, excess alcohol, and trans-fats.
10. Have sex
A study done at the Cornell University over a period of 12 weeks found that casual sex is good for the body and mind. Having sex reduces stress rather than not having it. Having regular sex can also keep you looking and feeling younger. For more information check out my post (Benefits Of Having Regular Sex, the Fountain Of Youth)
11. Get more sunshine (vitamin D)
A study at the Colorado University found that exposure to sunlight, especially early and late in the day causes a decrease in cortisol levels. Besides, sunshine helps reduce depression. Sunshine also boosts natural dopamine production. If you are stuck indoors all day you can always get some vitamin D via supplementation form.
12. Stop endurance training
Endurance exercises increase cortisol levels dramatically. For this reason, if you have high cortisol levels and are always exercising hard, it could be time to slow down. Opt for moderate exercises instead.
13. Accomplish a goal
Goal setting involves planning ahead which helps reduce anxiety as you already know what you want to do at what time. Goal setting is a method of time management that helps you plan and work towards accomplishing goals. It is recommended that you start with the more difficult tasks earlier in each day and work on easier tasks later. A study conducted at Harvard University, and involving 3000 subjects concluded that one quarter of human happiness is dependent on the ability to manage stress. Learn how to achieve more with this post (Change Your Life With Willpower Mastery).
14. Lift weights (increases dopamine)
A University of Maryland study found that moderate exercise such as lifting weights helps reduce anxiety during the exercise session. This state continues even after exercise, which means that exercising regularly will make you less anxious and effectively reduce your stress and cortisol levels. Additionally, exercising builds muscle mass and stimulates the brain to produce more dopamine and serotonin hormones which further reduce anxiety and depression.
15. Try cortisol reducing recipes
What if i told you that you could make a smoothie within 5 minutes that could help combat your cortisol levels instantly. Well you can by using scientifically based recipes I have created which are featured in my Libido Fuel recipe Ebook. I have also included delicious recipes that increase testosterone and nitric oxide production.
Cortisol is the fight or flight hormone that is critical for human survival. However, chronically high cortisol levels lead to various symptoms and ailments. Fortunately, you can lower your cortisol levels by following the above 15 recommendations to reduce cortisol. Note that all these are natural and accessible methods that can improve your life significantly. If you believe that this discussion will benefit you or otherwise, share your thoughts with us in the comments.