Are you stressed out?
Pressure at your job, caring for your family, keeping up at home… the sources of stress are absolutely everywhere, right?
When we’re stressed, our natural “fight or flight” stress response kicks in. But it can sometimes go overboard. It’s supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after we’ve fought or flown. But, due to the stressful nature of our hectic lifestyles, it becomes a long-term reaction.
How excess stress is wrecking your health…
You’ve probably heard of the main stress hormone, cortisol. It’s released from your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s naturally high in the morning to get you going, and slowly decreases throughout the day so that you’re able to sleep at night.
Did you know that continuously high levels of cortisol are associated with excessive belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and it 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 That Affect Cortisol Levels:
Sugar – increases your cortisol. Reducing the sugar we eat and drink can be a great step toward better health for both our minds and bodies.
Caffeine – High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels. If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then your may want to cut back on the amount of caffeine you have.
Water – Being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty.
Nutrient-dense whole foods – Make sure to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and lean protein; this doesn’t just help reduce stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health!
Tea and Dark Chocolate – Both of these lower your cortisol levels by stimulating the relaxation response in your body. Have one (or both) to help unwind from your day!
Probiotics and prebiotics – Make sure you’re eating probiotic-rich fermented foods and getting a healthy dose of prebiotic fiber. There is so much new research about the gut-mind connection, and how taking care of your friendly gut microbes is key to improved health.
Lifestyle Techniques to Lower Cortisol
Here are five things you can do that can lower cortisol:
Be Mindful – Reduce your stress with meditation. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces your cortisol level.
Get Some Exercise – Get your workouts in, but don’t overdo it. Physical activity reduces activity but excessive exercise can actually increase your cortisol levels. Keep regular workouts to under 60 minutes.
Get Some Sleep – Getting adequate sleep is often overlooked as a way to reduce excess belly fat! Quality sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways.
Relax and Have Fun – Things like deep breathing, massages, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol.
Be Social – Did you know that studies have 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.
TL;DR – 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, but more water, fruit, tea, dark chocolate, probiotics, and prebiotics.
Lifestyle factors are huge when it comes to cortisol. To lower yours, exercise (but not too much), get more sleep, relax, and have more fun!
Having trouble managing your stress?
Try the free 5-day Change Your Mindset Challenge and start destressing ASAP!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or Registered Dietitian. The information presented is purely to share my experience and for entertainment purposes. As always, check with a doctor before making any fitness or nutrition changes. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.