Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is vital to survival given its role in functions such as immunity, regulating blood pressure and releasing insulin for blood sugar maintenance.
What might a low result mean?
Low levels of cortisol (Addison's disease) can lead to fatigue, nausea, skin discolouration and low blood pressure.
What might a high result mean?
Continually elevated levels of cortisol can be due to chronic stress or more rarely a condition called Cushing's syndrome.
Raised cortisol levels can lead to rapid weight gain, especially around the waist, excessive body hair (in women) and loss of libido and erectile dysfunction (in men).
How might I improve my result?
There are many ways to naturally lower your cortisol levels. Regular exercise is thought to be one of the most effective ways of managing stress. However, it is important to remember not to over-exercise as this can lead to chronically high levels of cortisol.
Cutting down on caffeine is recommended as caffeine is a stimulant that raises cortisol levels in the blood. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day is also important for maintaining normal cortisol levels. Avoiding refined sugars, as well as balancing protein, carbohydrates and fats, will help to keep cortisol production regular. It is also important to keep well hydrated as dehydration can also raise cortisol levels.