How to Naturally Lower Stress Hormone Cortisol
Causes of stress are absolutely everywhere. Our natural “fight or flight” stress response can sometimes go overboard. It’s supposed to help us escape threat in an emergency and then return to normal after we’ve fought or flew. But, that doesn’t seem to happen nowadays and it can become long-term and 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 that 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).
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. 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 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.
Get enough exercise (but don’t overdo it). While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels.
Relax and have fun. Things like deep breathing, massages, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol.
Reduce your stress with mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol.
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.
Be social and spend time with your friends and family. Did you know 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 (but not too much), get more sleep, relax, and have more fun.
In the comments below, let me know your favourite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol!
De-Stressing Chocolate Pudding (Serves 6)
- ¼ cup cacao powder (unsweetened)
- 3 ripe avocados
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 dash salt
Instructions Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Try adding a pinch of cinnamon for a deeper flavour.
Dr. Anna ND
- Understanding the stress response. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying healthy/understanding-the-stress-response
- All about cortisol. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cortisol
- 11 Natural Ways to Lower Your Cortisol Levels. https://authoritynutrition.com/ways-to-lower-cortisol/
- 16 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety. https://authoritynutrition.com/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety/
- Managing Stress https://www.thepaleomom.com/managing-stress/