COVID-19 and Cortisol; Is stress putting you at risk?

What puts some people at a higher risk of severe COVID infection than others?

It’s the million-dollar question that we don’t fully understand yet. 

A new study published in The Lancet found that higher stress hormone cortisol levels were a marker of more severe illness from COVID-19. 

That does NOT mean stress causes COVID!!!!

Before jumping to conclusions too quickly, let’s be clear about what this study showed. Patients were tested for cortisol levels when they were admitted to one of 3 large teaching hospitals in London with suspected COVID-19. 

That means they were already sick when tested, and they were being admitted to the hospital, which means their COVID related symptoms were severe enough to be admitted into the hospital. This study DOES NOT account for those who recovered with mild symptoms at home.

But here was the shocking result…

Patients who had cortisol levels lower than 744nmol/L when they arrived at the hospital survived a median of 36 days, but those with cortisol higher than 744nmol/L survived a median of only 15 days.

To give you a point of reference about average levels, healthy people’s cortisol levels hover around 100-200nmol/L during the day. 

So, the study found:

👉 Patients with COVID had increased cortisol levels

👉 Patients with the highest cortisol levels had a more severe illness

Here are some things you should know:

👉 Cortisol is the hormone our bodies release in response to stress

👉 We release cortisol in response to emotional stress but also physical 

👉 It’s normal for cortisol to spike during an acute illness

👉 The APPROPRIATE release of cortisol (every day and when we get sick) is what keeps us alive, healthy, and energetic

👉 The INAPPROPRIATE release of cortisol (too much or too little) is cause for concern

Nobody can predict how YOUR body might respond if you were to contract COVID-19.

But it never hurts to be proactive—today—to strengthen your body’s resilience to stress. Get outside to exercise. Follow routines. Sleep well. Eat well. Enjoy the company of others. 

Cortisol plays such a pivotal role in the human body. It doesn’t just make you at a higher risk of COVID complications, but it can cause weight gain, chronic fatigue, infections, etc. The best way to achieve healthy cortisol levels is to reduce your stress, improve your diet, and give yourself supplemental support where needed.

Remember, there are two types of stress, eustress, and distress. These are excellent stresses and harmful stresses. Imagine the pressure of a tough day at work compared to the “stress” right before you jump out of an airplane (with a parachute!). Both are stressful, but even you realize one will cause damage to your body over time. 

But did you know there are two more types of stress on the body? External and Internal stress. External stress, as we mentioned, are those outside forces like a stressful job or stressful relationship. But internal stress includes things like disease, symptoms, GI parasites, etc. It’s essential to eradicate both the inner and external stresses. 

Manage Stress:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal. Spending five minutes a day to write down a list of things you are grateful for puts your gratitude into the universe and allows you to meditate for five minutes. I’ve met so many people who say they can’t meditate, but that “zoning” out feeling you get while writing is meditation.
  2. Fresh air and sunshine. Make sure you spend at least 30 minutes (more is better) a day in the sun and fresh air. You’d be amazed how much just sunshine and fresh air can activate your immune system.
  3. Open your windows. Go through your house or apartment and open all the windows for 45 minutes or so each day. This circulating air refreshes what would typically be stagnant rooms. Leading cardiologists agree that fresh air can improve concentration, lower blood pressure, and cortisol.
  4. Maintain happy and healthy relationships. Remember when your mom would tell you that you would make her hair turn grey if you were misbehaving? This is a true sentiment. Oxidative stress is a natural form of stress, but too much can contribute to your cells and tissue’s accelerated aging. Ensure you surround yourself with people who help build you up and don’t contribute to your stress.
  5. Eat a clean diet. You know its important to eat healthily, but making sure you eat adequate levels of organic fruits and vegetables and lean grass-fed organic meats are one of the most significant and most accessible improvements you can make to your diet.
  6. Catch some zzzz’s. Making sure you have good quality sleep is crucial to your overall health. It’s more important the time that you go to sleep rather than how long. Ideally, you get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, but having a bedtime around 10 pm has been clinically proven to improve overall hormone health.
  7. Get tested. It’s important to understand whats going on with your health on a cellular level. Get the proper testing from Stradtman Family Wellness.
  8. Supplements. There are plenty of natural remedies to improve hormonal (cortisol) health, but you want to make sure you have the proper testing done beforehand because they are so powerful. 

Book your free wellness consult with us to discuss how you can reduce your cortisol levels. Stradtman Family Wellness specializes in hormone testing and helping you achieve optimal cortisol levels.

These are stressful times. Do yourself a favor and find ways to de-stress. Drop in the comments below—what are your favorite ways to let the stress go? 

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