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Combating Cortisol Without Quitting Your Job!

By Emma Sutherland
from Studio You

We have all experienced stress, but did you know it could be causing you a number of other health related complaints?


The stress hormone, cortisol, could be causing your moodiness, daytime fatigue, insomnia, persistent infections, sugar cravings, as well as the excess weight around your waist you can never seem to shift despite hours spent at the gym.

During periods of acute stress, your adrenal glands release increased levels of cortisol to help the body cope with physical or psychological stressors. Cortisol is responsible for maintaining normal blood sugar levels, regulation of carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism, participates in immune and/or inflammatory reactions, as well as influencing the heart and blood vessels. In the short run, it’s great – even protective and restorative.

However, problems develop when your relentlessly busy lifestyle forces the adrenal glands to be on constant “high alert” resulting in a continual elevation of cortisol.


Anxiety & depression

Fatigue and weakness

Weight gain, particularly around the waist


Lowered sex drive

High blood pressure

Insulin resistance

Weakened immunity

Thyroid imbalance

If stress persists and your adrenals are required to constantly respond, they will eventually struggle to produce cortisol, which could ultimately lead to adrenal exhaustion. Although we may not always be able to reduce the immediate stressor (I would suggest taking a holiday if you can!), the good news is there are many steps you can start today to normalise cortisol levels and restore healthy adrenal function.


Aim to have regular breaks throughout your day, even a 5 minute walk outside of the office can help dramatically

Exercise regularly, but not excessively

Regular bed time, ideally before 10pm

Regular relaxation & breathing exercises

Share enjoyable time and laugh with friends & family

Focus on a better balance between work, rest, and play


5-6 serves of vegetables, and 1-2 serves of fruit per day

Eat good quality protein, especially for breakfast & lunch

Eat mostly homemade foods that are nutrient-dense and nourishing. Do a “Sunday cook-up” for the weeks lunches

Use quality cold-pressed oils e.g. olive, walnut, almond, flaxseed & coconut

Avoid energy robbers such as alcohol and caffeine

Increase vitamin C rich foods – orange, red and yellow varieties

Avoid acidic foods such as hydrogenated fats, refined carbohydrates & sugars

Drink filtered water – 8 to 10 glasses per day

If you have been experiencing stress and suspect your cortisol levels may be out of balance, a visit to our naturopaths is your answer. They will formulate a treatment plan specific to your needs, and through the use of herbal medicine, nutrition and lifestyle factors, you will achieve great results!

More about the author

Emma Sutherland
Emma Sutherland
– Studio You

Emma Sutherland is a successful mum, author, clinical naturopath and TV presenter and her mission in life is to inspire women to get their mojo back. Her first book “50 Foods That Will Change Your Life” is the ultimate guide to healthy eating for women.

Emma’s daughter, Sophia was born in November 2011 and has been the delight of her life since. Along with Sophia’s arrival, Emma picked up an addiction to every Superfood she can get her hands on! Motherhood has been the most amazing feat she has accomplished and it has only reaffirmed her desire to work more strongly with mums-to-be, mums and their bubbas. In fact, Sophia has inspired Emma’s second book Sophia Eats – a Parents Guide to Toddler Health and Wellbeing”.

Emma has many mentors and she has recently completed ADAPT, the inaugural training program with Chris Kresser, at the Kresser Institute. This involves delving further into the world of functional medicine and identifying the drivers underneath your health problems, and then addressing them in a strategic manner. Emma holds the designation of ADAPT Trained Health Practitioner from Kresser Institute, the only functional medicine and evolutionary health training company worldwide.

Emma has completed a comprehensive 12 month Fertility Mentoring Program with Stacey Roberts, The Baby Maker. This provides Emma with a strong framework to help women increase their fertility and create super healthy babies.

With a passion for children’s health, Emma has completed her MAPS (Medical Academy of Paediatric Special Needs ) Practitioner Training as well as MINDD Practitioner Training. Nothing makes Emma happier than seeing her little patients blossoming!

Emma is a regular media commentator and she has been extensively featured in radio and print media. Her areas of knowledge are incredible and her opinions are regularly sought out by many people. Emma continues her education by attending the latest seminars on cutting edge research and this ensures that she is an excellent source of information.

Emma is a fully qualified Naturopath, having completed four years of training in Herbal Medicine, Nutrition and Homoeopathy as well as a Bachelor of Health Science. She has years of experience in treating women and children throughout the preconception to post natal period.