What is cortisol? Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone. It is a steroid hormone that is responsible for activating the body’s ‘fight or flight’ mechanism in times of stress. It is secreted by the adrenal glands and its primary function is to alert your body and its various systems to imminent danger.
Whilst cortisol production is a healthy and vital response to environmental pressures, too much cortisol in the bloodstream can cause the body to go into stress response overdrive and shut down bodily systems to direct energy to perceived threats. If it is too abundant in the bloodstream, cortisol can impact areas of health and wellbeing as various as sleep, immunity, metabolic processing and skin, hair and nail health.
These days we are plagued by overproduction of cortisol in response to the stresses and strains of daily life - even a notification popping up on your phone can cause a surge in the hormone. But how can you reduce stress levels naturally? And what are the best supplements to take to lower your body’s cortisol levels?
If you’re suffering from elevated cortisol you may experience one or more of the following symptoms :
- Gut health issues
- Problems focusing or paying attention
- Weight gain
But what can be done about it? Improving your diet, increasing the amount of exercise you do, aiming for seven to nine hours of sleep each night and aiming to let go a little and enjoy life a bit more can all be useful strategies, as can incorporating breathwork or meditation into your routine, but loading up on the right supplements is the best place to start. These are some of the best supplements to take if you want to reduce your cortisol levels and regain a sense of wellbeing:
Ashwagandha belongs to a group of herbs that have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for at least 3,000 years, and which are known as adaptogens. An adaptogen is any natural substance that helps your body to respond smartly and proportionately to environmental stressors, thereby returning it to homeostasis.
Ashwagandha has been shown to alleviate raised cortisol levels in stressed humans by up to 30% when taken routinely, and studies around the world have shown that adults who supplement with ashwagandha consistently over a 30-60 day period demonstrate significantly reduced stress levels compared with those who take a placebo.
LYMA’s formula contains a clinically recognised dose of 600mg of full spectrum root extract KSM-66® Ashwagandha: the most potent and bioavailable form of the adaptogen available today. Several randomised, double-blind studies have confirmed KSM-66® Ashwagandha as the most effective form of the herb for human consumption. It has no known side-effects and works much faster than other strains of ashwagandha to reduce cortisol and lower stress.
Other benefits associated with KSM-66® Ashwagandha include better quality sleep, reduced inflammation and associated health concerns, and more balanced blood sugar leading to fewer food cravings. Those who supplemented for six weeks or more also noticed improved libido, enhanced muscle strength, lower instances of illness and infection, and improved memory.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids
Fish oil, and specifically the omega-3 fatty acids contained within it, has been shown to be one of the most effective supplements for reducing cortisol levels. Several studies confirm that regular supplementation with omega-3s is associated with a suppressed stress response, as well as with elevated mood and improved attention, memory and concentration.
One study took a group of people with elevated cortisol levels and had them supplement with omega-3 fatty acids for three weeks. At the end of the study, their stress levels in response to a challenging task were reduced when compared with those who took a placebo. There have been numerous similar studies that have drawn the same conclusion: omega-3 fatty acids can help lower cortisol levels.
However, there are other studies that refute the link between omega-3 fish oil supplements and diminished cortisol levels. These studies are persuasive in their suggestion that fish oil is effective only when consumed through diet, and that supplementing simply does not have the same positive effect on curtailing stress.
Overall, the evidence suggests that consuming fish oils can indeed lower cortisol levels and improve the body’s stress response, but that such benefits are most readily available when fish oils are consumed through the foods we eat. Some great sources of omega-3 fish oils include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies.
3. Prebiotics and probiotics
Keeping your gut healthy pays dividends to all areas of health. However, it is particularly important when it comes to controlling cortisol levels and reducing stress. Both prebiotics and probiotics can be consumed dietarily or, ideally to ensure adequate intake, in supplement form.
The job of prebiotics and probiotics is to keep your good gut bacteria thriving and multiplying. Studies have shown time and again that a healthy gut is associated with suppressed stress response and the circulation of more desirable levels of cortisol throughout the body.
Prebiotics can be found in high-fibre foods including a number of fruits and vegetables. Some of the best dietary sources of prebiotics include apples, pears, bananas, garlic, oats, onion, tomato and wheat. Chocolate is also a potent source of prebiotic goodness, as well as a whole load of other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Probiotics are most commonly found in fermented foods and beverages such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir (dairy and non-dairy) and kombucha. Miso is also a great source of probiotics.
Other dietary hacks for lowering cortisol levels include ramping up your water intake - dehydration is one of the leading causes of elevated cortisol in the bloodstream - and upping your consumption of both black and green tea, both of which are high in antioxidants and have been shown to be more effective than other caffeinated beverages for reducing stress levels and decreasing the likelihood of suffering adrenal fatigue.
LYMA’s formula has been designed to help you get the most out of life. In addition to containing cortisol-lowering adaptogen KSM-66® Ashwagandha, LYMA contains a number of patented ingredients that can help to fight the signs and symptoms associated with elevated levels of the stress hormone. Whilst HydroCurc™, the world’s first 100% water and fat-absorbable curcumin, can help to fight inflammation and bring your body back into harmony, powerful nootropic Cognizin® gets to work alleviating problems with memory, concentration and focus, leaving you to feel mentally sharp and fully alert. Vita-algae D3™, working together with K2VITAL®, acts to elevate your mood, boost your immunity and regulate your weight.
Take a peek at our journal to find out how LYMA can help you to beat low mood, anxiety and stress , and to learn more about the specific adaptogens and nootropics that could help you to bring your cortisol levels back into a healthy range.