This Is The Simple, Effective Way To Reduce Your Cortisol Levels

According to Google Trends, there has been a huge uptick in people searching the words ‘high Cortisol’ as we all learn more about cortisol and how different levels of it can impact our health.

However, if you’re still a little in the dark, Web MD describes cortisol as: “The body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear.”

When you have too much cortisol, you can develop a condition called ‘cushing’s syndrome’ which has symptoms such as weight gain, a puffy face, lethargy, reduced sex drive, and mood swings.

However, according to one health expert, you can make some simple lifestyle changes to help reduce your cortisol levels.

How to reduce cortisol levels

Yakult’s Nutritionist and Science Manager UK & Ireland, Dr Emily Prpa spoke with us to discuss just how these levels can be tackled, especially when it comes to reducing stress.

Dr Prpa said: “Stress doesn’t just affect our mental state; it’s got a profound impact on our gut health too. When stress levels soar, our gut bacteria – the unsung heroes of digestion – can take a hit.”

She explained that cortisol activates our fight or flight response which can drasw blood away from the gut. This, in turn, disrupts our gut’s normal rhythm, slowing down digestion and even causing inflammation.

However, Dr Prpa advised that incorporating relaxation techniques and self-care can reduce cortisol levels, giving our gut a chance to reset and activating our parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us to relax.

Additionally, Dr Prpa added that nourishing our gut microbiome is essential. This means loading up on fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Dr Prpa said:”[These foods] are packed with anti-inflammatory compounds and prebiotic fibres that support gut health.”

The best relaxation and self-care techniques to try

Of course, for some of us, relaxing can be a little tricky. The mental health charity Mind recommends the following techniques for helping your body and brain to relax:

  • Take a break by doing something you enjoy such as reading, running a bath, watching a film, playing with a pet or even trying out a new recipe

  • Try active relaxation such as going for a walk, trying yoga, Pilates or gentle stretching

  • Take deep breaths just for a few minutes. Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and place your hand on your stomach – it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out

  • Get creative by painting, drawing, getting crafty, playing an instrument or even baking! Don’t worry about the end product, just focus on having fun

  • Take a walk in a green space if you can, take time to note any trees, plants, and animals you see along the way

  • Picture yourself somewhere serene

  • Listen to your favourite songs

  • Turn your phone off for an hour