Its causes are absolutely everywhere and there isn’t one of us that can escape it. Would you agree?
Our natural “fight or flight” stress response can sometimes go a little overboard. It’s supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after we’ve fought or flew. But, that doesn’t happen too much in our society – it becomes a long-term reaction. It becomes chronic.
You’ve probably heard of the main stress hormone, called “cortisol.” It’s released from your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning to get you going and slowly fades during the day so you can sleep at night.
Did you know that too-high levels of cortisol are associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and even lowers your immunity?
Do you experience any of these? Well, then read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations to help you lower this stress hormone naturally!
Foods and nutrients to lower cortisol
Let’s start with one of the biggies that increase your cortisol… SUGAR. Reducing the sugar we eat and drink can be a huge step toward better health for our minds (and bodies). Large sugar intake also makes us actually want more sugar and that can lead to more poor eating habits which in turn prevent weight loss.
High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels. If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you ingest.
Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty.
Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn’t just help reduce stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health. Including weight loss.
Lower your cortisol levels with tea and dark chocolate (yes, I said dark). Have a bit to unwind but not too much.
Don’t forget your probiotics and prebiotics! I have touched on the gut-mind connection before and how taking care of your friendly gut microbes is key! Make sure you’re eating probiotic rich fermented foods and getting a healthy dose of prebiotic fiber. If you are looking for a probiotic / prebiotic supplement Click Here to check out this natural supplement that I use.
Lifestyle techniques to lower cortisol
It’s not just food but there are things you can do with your time that can lower cortisol.
Reduce your stress with mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol. This can be done in as little as a few minutes. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and breath in for 5 counts and out for 7. Do these 10 times and you can actually feel the difference when done.
Get enough exercise (but don’t go crazy). While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels.
Get enough sleep! I know this is a tough one for a lot of us but getting adequate sleep is way too underrated. Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways.
Relax and have fun. Things like deep breathing (as mentioned above), massages and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol.
Be social and bust loneliness. Would you believe me if I told you that science has shown health risks from social isolation and loneliness? It’s true! Maintaining good relationships and spending time with people you like and who support you is key.
Too much of the stress hormone cortisol can have several negative impacts on your health. There are many proven ways to reduce levels of cortisol naturally.
In terms of foods and nutrients, have less sugar and caffeine. And have more water, fruit, tea, dark chocolate, probiotics and prebiotics.
Lifestyle factors are huge when it comes to cortisol. To lower yours, exercise, get more sleep, relax and have more fun.
In the comments below, let me know your favorite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol!