Stress is an inevitable part of life and comes in many forms. Stressors on the body can be internal, external, physical, psychological, physiological, environmental, or chemical. These stressors can be acute, episodic acute or chronic in nature and all cause a cortisol response that starts a cascade effect of responses in the body that can lead to chronic health decline. “Start with the Adrenals” is a motto in functional medicine treatment. Evaluation of the stress response and management of this response is essential in promoting long term health and well-being. Age Management promotes an integrative lifestyle approach to best manage adrenal health and cortisol (stress) management.
Monitoring Adrenal function:
Age Management utilizes an (ASI) Adrenal Stress Index test with patients to determine the health and function of the Adrenal glands. This is a saliva test that gives us a circadian cortisol profile, Cortisol-DHEA Correlation level, Insulin activity, 17-OH Progresterone , Total salivary sIgA, and gluten(gliaden) Antibody response. Cortisol has a normal diurnal pattern throughout the day, with levels peaking in the morning and declining at night. Numerous studies show that deviations from this pattern are associated with signs ad symptoms of Adrenal Dysfunction.
Supplements can help support key nutrients that are essential for healthy adrenal function. Following is a list of the main adrenal support supplements utilized at Age Management of West Michigan.
Adreset: Herbal blend for overall Adrenal support to increase energy and stress resilience. Utilizes a combination of Cordyceps, Asian Ginseng, and Rhodiola.
Adrenevive: Blend of herbs, amino acids, and phosphatidylserine to support Adrenal function and decrease cortisol levels. Phosphatidylserine has been shown in several studies to effectively decrease cortisol levels in the blood.
7-Keto DHEA: DHEA is the precursor hormone in production of cortisol and deficient levels can cause imbalance in diurnal cortisol patterns. We recommend utilizing 7-Keto DHEA instead of DHEA. 7-Keto DHEA only has effect on cortisol pathways, where DHEA can have an effect on numerous hormone pathways.
L-Tyrosine: L-Tyrosine is a free form amino acid that is a key building block to Adrenal and Thyroid hormones. L-Tyrosine supplementation can provide and increase in both cognitive and physical energy.
Cortisol has an effect on our body’s nutrition intake and nutrition directly has an effect on Cortisol levels. Elevated stress and cortisol can have both an appetite stimulating effect or cause GI distress and a deficiency in nutrient intake. Dietary extremes in either direction have an impact on cortisol production and release.
Research studies show that a Western diet that includes an increase in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats, along with a decrease in dietary fiber causes an upregulation of cortisol release.
Regular physical activity and exercise have a positive effective in both increasing the body’s stress resilience and managing cortisol levels. A 2021 study showed a 42% decrease in cortisol levels following three weeks of a HIIT exercise routine. Be aware, that too much exercise and over training can lead to an increase in Adrenal stimulation and cortisol levels.
LENS neurofeedback has been one of the most successful treatments used at Age Management of West Michigan to treat stress and anxiety. LENS is FDA approved to calm and rebalance the nervous system and brain. This makes the brain and body more stress resistant and decreases any sympathetic nervous response to stressors and environmental stimuli that directly cause an increase in cortisol production and release.
Consistent and quality sleep is essential for maintaining Cortisol levels and a healthy diurnal cortisol pattern throughout the day. Lack of sleep causes elevated Cortisol levels. Try to set a consistent sleep window where you are going to bed and waking up around the same time every day.
Stress Management Techniques
Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise, or just being in nature are all effective ways to manage stress and cortisol levels in the body.
Utilizing an integrative approach of all the above lifestyle techniques and treatments is the most effective way to manage stress and cortisol effects on the body.