El cortisol es una hormona liberada como respuesta al stress y prepara a nuestro cuerpo a reaccionar ante el peligro físico. El cortisol favorece la liberación de glucosa en el flujo sanguíneo, mejorando la respuesta del cerebro al uso de la misma e incrementando la cantidad de substancias encargadas de reparar tejidos. Además de estas importantes funciones, el cortisol también interactúa con el sistema inmunológico, digestivo y reproductivo. Una exposición prolongada a altos niveles de cortisol puede ser dañina y puede llegar a tener consecuencias como enfermedades cardíacas, obesidad, depresión e interferencia con las habilidades cognitivas y de memorización.
A continuación un artículo de The Urban Clinic sobre cómo bajar los niveles de colesterol de manera natural.
Severe cases of prolonged high cortisol, such as in major depression, can cause neurotoxicity and brain damage. The condition known as hyper-cortisolemia can destroy cells in the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebellum. Prolonged untreated cases of stress and depression can lead to the onset of more serious conditions such as incurable depression and bipolar disorder. While anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications are treatments commonly recommended by medical doctors, here are some ways to attempt to lower cortisol levels naturally.
Identify Cortisol Triggers
The first step in reducing cortisol is identifying the particular stressors in your life that are triggering the release of cortisol so that you can eliminate them. Among some common triggers are lack of adequate sleep, over exercising, and dieting.
Consume Protein at Each Meal
The longer you go without food the more your glycogen reserves get depleted, and protein helps to build these reserves. Incorporate protein into each meal. Eat breakfast that contains protein, as your brain is particularly depleted of its glycogen reserves after sleeping. Also, inadequate protein intake can disturb sleep which can lead to a spike in cortisol.
Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates, which can cause spikes in insulin production and evoke a stress response. Eat balanced meals consisting of protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats like olive oil and flax seed oil. Diets rich in complex carbohydrates keep cortisol levels lower than low carb diets. Don’t buy into fad diets and don’t let food and eating become a source of stress.
Cortisol levels begin to rise after 5 hours without food. Aim to eat 5 or 6 times daily. Do not diet or overly restrict calories or certain foods. Researchers at Yale University and the University of British Columbia found that women with high levels of “cognitive dietary restraint” (putting a lot of mental energy into restricting certain foods) had significantly higher cortisol levels, bigger appetites, increased consumption of sweets, more negative moods, and higher body-fat levels – even despite getting more exercise.
Dehydration can induce a stress response and spike cortisol levels. Drink water first thing in the morning, as you become dehydrated during sleep. Try not to drink water an hour before bedtime in order to prevent waking up to go to the bathroom which interrupts sleep.
Exercise helps build muscle mass and increase the brain’s output of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that reduce anxiety and depression. But minimize Prolonged Physical Activity. After an hour of exercise your body’s testosterone levels decline and cortisol begins to rise. Keep workouts to under an hour and do not train more than 2 days in a row.
Do not consume caffeine-containing coffee, tea, green tea, energy drinks, appetite suppressants, or medications such as Excedrin and Midol. Caffeine directly stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol and interferes with sleep. Avoid herbal stimulants such as ma muang, guarana, synaphrine (zhi shi), yohimbe, quebracho, coleus, and of course ephedrine and amphetamines.
Improve Your Sleep
Ensure a regular sleep pattern: be in bed before 10:30pm and wake up at the same time every day. Avoid exposure to light for a two hour period before bedtime, particularly blue light emitted by electronics such as TVs, laptops, ipads, and blackberries. If evening electronics are necessary, use a blue light filter on the screen. If sleep aids are necessary, take natural forms such as chamomile tea and melatonin. Melatonin can help you sleep deeper and lengthen the sleep cycle. For assistance waking, try a light box that simulates the sun rise instead of a jarring alarm clock.