As part of our attempts to help you understand your body, fitness trainer Sam Cranny-Evans is back with more tips on keeping  your hormones in check. This week he discusses stress hormone, cortisol…

Cortisol is a vital hormone; high levels of cortisol can cause a “fall down an emotional flight of stairs” if you’re not closely monitoring and managing your hormones.
It’s a stress hormone. Your body releases it when you’re stressed – stressed from work, from life in general or wherever your stress comes from. It causes a collection of negative consequences such as fatty deposits around the waist and chest in men, and around the back, waist and armpits in women. It also breaks down muscle tissue for fuel, and its levels are highest in the morning. Mood swings are often a result of high levels of cortisol, and so is tiredness and irritability.

Man squeezing stressball

Studies have also shown that males handle the effects of cortisol better than females – and are much more likely to suffer from issues with their hypothalamus. If you do not have a proper release for cortisol this can lead to a high ratio of cortisol to Dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA. DHEA is the father of Testosterone, and an abundance of cortisol leads to a slump in the production of testosterone – which in turn, can lead to some of the effects we discussed last week.
SO how should you manage cortisol?: Firstly, you might want to try some Omega 3s. They are amazing and everyone should aim for 4 grams of omega-3 supplements a day.

Pure Fish Oil

Another supplement called Phosphatidylserine is also proven to reduce the effects of the body’s hormonal response to stress. Other methods include taking time out to enjoy hobbies and other activities. Making time for yourself and the things you enjoy is definitely an important step in lowering your cortisol level.
Music also serves to modulate your cortisol levels, and thus help you move on to a more manageable level of stress in your life.

Woman listening to music

So that’s cortisol – a problematic hormone if you don’t take care of it. Hopefully this article has now given you have a few tools to help YOU start running your hormones, instead of letting your hormones run you!
Stay fit and I’ll speak to you all soon!
To read more of Sam’s tips and advice on all things health & fitness, check out his website