How to Naturally Lower the Stress Hormone Cortisol
Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Wouldn’t you agree?
You can’t even turn on the news anymore without getting stressed over all of the issues and drama in our world today. Add on top of that work and family life and trying to just balance a million things that come our way.
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 (many of you have heard my bear analogy) and then return to normal after we’ve fought or fled. 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.
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 great step toward better health for our minds (and bodies).
Don’t panic! There are a lot of ways you can indulge your sweet tooth without sabotaging your body, just read my blog post here for some ideas: “9 Ways to Indulge Your Sweet Tooth, High-Quality Style”.
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.
Lower your cortisol levels with tea and dark chocolate (not the sugary milky kind!). Have a 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 are getting a healthy dose of prebiotic fiber.
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. Click here to check out my recent videos on how and why you should practice mindfulness.
Get enough exercise (but don’t overdo it). While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels.
Get enough sleep!
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, 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. Have 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.
What are your favorite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol??
To your health!