- Cortisol is a steroid hormone released by your body’s adrenal glands in response to stress and consistently elevated levels are associated with weight gain, acne, weakness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, and more.
- Green powders, such as Human Tonik’s Supergreen Tonik powder, can provide both supplements to help reduce stress and a daily dose of essential vitamins and minerals to fill in any nutritional gaps and improve overall health.
- In addition to supplements, practicing stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises, along with getting regular physical activity, prioritizing adequate sleep, and consuming a balanced diet can make a big difference.
Our body releases several hormones to cope with stress, including cortisol. Although it is an incredibly important hormone, cortisol tends to get a bad rap.
Chronic stress has become something of an epidemic in today’s world, which means constant cortisol release from the body and chronically high cortisol levels can cause some pretty uncomfortable side effects.
Weight gain, acne, and fatigue are some of the main results of chronically high cortisol, therefore it’s no surprise people are looking for ways to lower the production of this hormone, including utilizing supplements to reduce cortisol.
How Cortisol Affects The Body
Cortisol is a steroid hormone released by your body’s adrenal glands. It is controlled by your Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis) and functions as more than just a regulator of stress. Cortisol also helps to reduce blood sugar levels and inflammation as well as regulate our body’s metabolism. (Source)
Our body’s response to stress is meant to be short-lived, therefore long, chronic bouts of stress can have negative impacts on our health. Consistently elevated cortisol levels are associated with weight gain, acne, weakness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, and more. (Source)
Stress is one of the main triggers for excess cortisol release by the HPA-axis however, it can also be caused by other conditions such as pituitary gland issues, a tumor on the adrenal gland, or a side effect of certain medications such as Corticosteroids. (Source)(Source)(Source)
Importance Of Managing Cortisol Levels For Health
The effects of chronically elevated cortisol levels can be detrimental to human health. High cortisol levels can lead to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, mood irregularities, and more.
Therefore, we must get our stress and our cortisol levels under control to maintain our health and live a long, happy life; however, many people don’t know how to lower cortisol levels. (Source)(Source)
Although it may seem daunting, there are many different ways you can reduce your cortisol levels, including adjusting your diet, incorporating exercise, prioritizing sleep, getting out into nature, and practicing mindfulness and/or meditation for stress management. There are also a variety of natural supplements that may help reduce cortisol levels in conjunction with these lifestyle changes. (Source)
The Role Of Supplements In Reducing Cortisol Levels
Although they should not be your first line of defense, there is an array of natural herbs and supplements for high cortisol that may help to reduce stress levels. For best results, these supplements should be combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Unfortunately, the traditional Western diet is often lacking in many essential nutrients. In this case, green powders, such as Human Tonik’s Supergreen Tonik powder, can provide both supplements to help reduce stress and a daily dose of essential vitamins and minerals to fill in any nutritional gaps and improve overall health.
The adrenal glands, which sit directly on top of the kidneys, produce and release cortisol to regulate your body’s response to stress. Cortisol is a steroid hormone, also known as a glucocorticoid that carries messages to your organs and tissues and tells them how to respond to certain situations.
Although it plays a large role in regulating your body’s stress response, cortisol also helps to control your metabolism, suppress inflammation, help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, and control your sleep-wake cycle. Your body is constantly trying to maintain balance with its cortisol levels, a state known as homeostasis. (Source)
Chronically high cortisol levels can be attributed to stress however, there are different types of stress, including acute, chronic, and traumatic. Acute stress occurs in response to an immediate threat of danger whereas chronic is long-lasting, continuous stress, such as working a stressful job. Traumatic stress is a result of trauma, such as a big life event that inflicts fear. For example, suffering through a serious car accident.
High cortisol levels can be attributed to chronic stress as well as conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome, an adrenal or pituitary tumor, or taking corticosteroid medications such as Prednisone. Diet can also play a role in cortisol levels. Studies have found that low-calorie diets can increase cortisol levels. (Source)(Source)
Negative Effects Of Prolonged Elevated Cortisol Levels
There are many health consequences associated with a prolonged elevation in cortisol levels including:
- Weight gain
- Sleep disturbances
- Suppressed immune function
- Digestive issues
Prolonged elevated cortisol levels can result in unwanted weight gain. Cortisol stimulates the appetite, along with cravings for high-sugar and high-fat foods. This is likely a response to the high levels of stress associated with elevated cortisol levels. (Source)(Source)
To avoid unwanted weight gain from high stress and subsequently high cortisol levels, stay active, practice mindfulness techniques to better manage stress, prioritize sleep, and practice mindful eating, which entails eating without distraction.
The HPA axis, which produces cortisol, is also responsible for regulating your body’s sleep cycle.
During times of elevated stress, the function of the HPA axis can get disrupted and result in disturbances in sleep, such as insomnia. (Source)
Anxiety And Depression
High levels of cortisol have been correlated to increased incidences of psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression.
Individuals suffering from mental health concerns, specifically depression, have noted increases in cortisol levels which may also be causing a decrease in serotonin levels, an important neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood. (Source)
Suppressed Immune Function
Elevated cortisol levels can also impact your body’s immune system function. Cortisol decreases the production of white blood cells, which can slow your body’s response to infection.
Chronically elevated cortisol levels can even result in the immune system becoming resistant to its normal functions and further, compromise its ability to provide the body with protection from illness. (Source)
Additionally, chronically elevated cortisol levels can cause gastrointestinal distress, specifically during digestion. It impacts the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and can cause uncomfortable side effects such as abdominal pain.
Because the HPA-axis is being chronically stimulated to produce cortisol, the effects include increased inflammation which can wreak havoc on the intestinal microbiota and increase intestinal permeability. (Source)
Supplements To Reduce Cortisol Levels
As mentioned previously, there are some supplements available that, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can also work to reduce cortisol levels in the body. These supplements include ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, and L-theanine.
Ashwagandha is an herb classified as an adaptogen. It is well-known for its ability to potentially reduce stress and anxiety symptoms. It does this by controlling common mediators of stress, such as cortisol, along with reducing activity from the HPA axis. (Source)
A smaller study found that out of 58 participants those who took 250-600mg of ashwagandha over 8 weeks had significantly reduced stress and cortisol levels compared to those who didn’t. (Source)
According to research, ashwagandha taken in doses of 250-1,250mg is effective for both men and women; however, be sure to consult your doctor or healthcare provider before starting an ashwagandha supplement. It takes time before you may notice a difference with taking ashwagandha supplements, up to several months, so it’s important to be consistent and patient with your intake.
Ashwagandha is a popular supplement that is readily available at many retail and online stores however, you must choose a supplement that contains a good amount of this herb, along with third-party testing for quality and purity.
Human Tonik’s Supergreen Tonik powder is a great example of a high-quality green powder that contains 500mg of ashwagandha root extract along with 37 other superfoods, vitamins, and minerals and provides third-party testing.
Rhodiola rosea is another adaptogenic herb that is known for its ability to combat stress.
One study conducted on 118 individuals found that taking 400mg of Rhodiola for 12 weeks helped to combat stress-related burnout and decrease symptoms of depression. Although promising, this research is still relatively new, and further human trials are warranted. (Source)
If you are interested in trying a Rhodiola supplement, Human Tonik’s Supergreen Tonik also contains 300 mg of Rhodiola, along with ashwagandha.
This product also contains other beneficial ingredients such as beetroot, which can also be found in their Red Tonik supplement. Avoid taking Rhodiola supplements before bed as they can have a stimulating effect. (Source)
L-theanine is an amino acid that is typically found in coffee and tea. It has been studied for its potential benefits when it comes to decreasing stress and anxiety symptoms which may help to reduce cortisol levels. L-theanine is also believed to have the potential to decrease insomnia symptoms. (Source)(Source)
Currently, there is no recommended dose of L-theanine as there has not yet been any conclusive research on this. You can safely get L-theanine from coffee and teas but avoid consuming excess amounts as these beverages are also high in caffeine.
Supergreen Tonik green powder contains 250 mg of L-theanine per serving in addition to the above adaptogens, making it a great option for those trying out adaptogens for the first time.
Be sure to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider before taking an L-theanine supplement.
Green Powder Supplements: A Natural Solution To Cortisol Reduction
Green powder supplements can be an easy and convenient way to ensure you are meeting your vitamin and mineral needs while also ticking down your stress levels in a more natural way.
Most green powders include concentrated forms of nutrient-rich greens, such as kale, spinach, and swiss chard. This helps to make up for what your diet may be lacking.
Although consuming whole foods is always recommended as the first line of defense, it’s not always feasible for most people. Green powders can help fill nutritional gaps that may be present.
If you are considering a green powder for cortisol reduction, choose one that contains key adaptogens for improved stress, such as ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and L-theanine.
Other excellent additions to green powders for cortisol reduction include spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass, barley grass, and moringa, all of which are also available in Human Tonik’s Supergreen Tonik green powder.
These ingredients are all rich in antioxidants which can help to support many essential body functions including a healthy stress response.
These nutrient-dense foods may also be beneficial for weight management by promoting improvements in stress and reducing cortisol which is often associated with weight gain.
Other Lifestyle Changes To Manage Cortisol Levels
Diet and lifestyle habits play a key role in managing cortisol levels. In addition to supplements, practicing stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises, along with getting regular physical activity, prioritizing adequate sleep, and consuming a balanced diet can make a big difference.
Stress Management Techniques
Meditation can help you get into a state of relaxation while also clearing your mind of what troubles you.
Studies have found that meditation can be very effective at helping to enhance emotional and physical health.
If you are new to meditation, guided meditation may be beneficial to help you practice. There are many forms of guided meditation available online and through various streaming services.
Yoga combines stretching with deep breathing and meditation exercises and can be very effective at combating stress by encouraging physical relaxation.
One study found that women who practiced yoga 3 times a week for 4 weeks experienced significant reductions in stress. Yoga is widely available in most locations for group classes as well as online through various platforms. (Source)
Because stress stimulates your body’s fight or flight response, the result is often increased heart rate and blood pressure in preparation for danger.
Breathing exercises can help to quell the symptoms of chronic stress by slowing down your heart rate and blood pressure and getting your body back to a state of calm.
Most breathing exercises can be completed in a short period and there are many guided exercises available for those who are new to the practice.
Taking just a few moments a couple of times a day to practice deep breathing exercises can help to improve relaxation and reduce elevated cortisol levels.
In addition to stress management techniques, physical activity can do wonders for reducing stress.
Getting in movement can boost your endorphin, chemicals released by your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can also help to boost confidence and improve overall mood.
Although it’s often the first to get put on the back burner when we are busy, sleep plays a huge role in stress.
If we are sleep deprived, our body is already under stress from the get-go and is unable to function at its best which can affect the rest of our body systems.
Aim to prioritize at least 7-8 hours of good-quality sleep each night to help avoid an increase in cortisol.
Last, but not least, a balanced diet is essential for managing cortisol levels. Limit highly processed food items and aim to consume more whole foods.
Additionally, avoid fad dieting, specifically very low-calorie diets as these are associated with an increase in cortisol levels.
Cortisol is an important hormone that our body needs for several functions however, day-to-day stressors can throw our cortisol levels out of whack and leave us with some unsightly side effects.
The good news is, there are many lifestyle habits and cortisol-reducing supplements that may be able to help.
Products like Human Tonik’s Supergreen Tonik provide several different adaptogens that can help your body combat the stress response while also providing many essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help fill in any nutritional gaps.
Although we don’t want to rely on supplements to reduce cortisol, they can be incredibly helpful when combined with healthy habits.
Meghan is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist from San Jose, California. She received her undergraduate degree from San Diego State University in 2015. Following an unexpected cross-country trip that landed her in Florida, she completed her didactic training through AdventHealth Orlando.
Meghan has extensive experience in multiple aspects of dietetics including critical care, motivational interviewing, writing, and research. She is passionate about health and wellness and has dedicated her free time to breaking down complicated nutrition topics and disseminating them to the public through the arena of writing.