Its causes are absolutely everywhere. 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 – or at least it is supposed to be.
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 (STRESS)
Let’s start with one of the biggies that increase your cortisol… sugar. Reducing the sugar we eat and drink can be a great step toward better health for our minds (and bodies).
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. The recommended daily dose of caffeine is below 400mg – which would be 4 SMALL cups of coffee!
In addition to these, being dehydrated also increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty. The truth is, if you’re thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated!
Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn’t just help reduce stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health.
Lower your cortisol levels with tea (especially green tea) and dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher and not the sugary milky kind!). Just have a little bit to unwind.
Don’t forget your probiotics and prebiotics! There is so much new research about the gut-mind connection, 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. For an interesting read on gut health pick up a copy of Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders.
Lastly, have you heard of adaptogens? Adaptogens are plants, herbs, and botanicals that naturally control cortisol levels. Many of these have been used in India and traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, but are only now coming into common practice as more and more people reach for natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs. I’ve been using a powerful adaptogen rich product for over 5 years and it’s significantly improved my energy, recovery from exercise, and ability to manage stress. I honestly will not go a day without this amazing product! Check it out here!
Lifestyle techniques to lower cortisol (STRESS)
It’s not just what you eat that can be used to control cortisol. There are things you can do with your time that can help lower cortisol too.
Reduce your stress with mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol. My good friend Dr. Yashar Khosroshahi (the Mindshift Ninja) has developed an incredible, science-based approach to mindfulness. I highly recommend checking out his website to learn more: http://mindshift.ninja/
Get enough exercise (without over-training). The immediate effect of exercise is an increase in cortisol levels. However, over time, one’s average cortisol levels will diminish from a consistent exercise program.
Get enough sleep! Quality sleep is way too underrated. People often brag about how they can function on very little sleep – but the science shows how detrimental this can be to productivity and health. Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways. For more on getting better quality sleep have a look back at my previous post on sleep.
Relax and have fun. Things like deep breathing, massages, yoga, and even 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 also huge when it comes to cortisol. To lower yours: exercise (without over-training), get more sleep, relax, and have more fun!
As our FREE gift to you we’ve developed a 5-Day Plan to Regain Control Over Sugar. We know reducing sugar is difficult. That’s why we’ve created this guide. It will walk you through with amazing resources, as well as a full meal plan and recipes! What if this is exactly what you need to kick-start your healthy lifestyle?
Recipe (High fiber prebiotic): De-Stressing Chocolate Pudding
3 ripe avocados
¼ cup cacao powder (unsweetened)
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 dash salt
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Try adding a pinch of cinnamon for a deeper flavour.