Its causes are absolutely everywhere girlfriend! 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. Especially for us women who are juggling all-the-things!
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.
But, 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?
Sista, do you experience any of these? YES! Right?
And if you answered no, then you definitely need to comment below your best stress busting tips girlfriend!
For the rest of us, well then read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations to help you lower this stress hormone naturally, which is incredibly important for us women!
Foods and nutrients to lower cortisol
Are you ready?! Let’s dive in and start with one of the biggies that increase your cortisol…
1. Sugar. Reducing the added sugar we eat and drink can be a great step toward better health for our minds (and bodies).
2. Caffeine. 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.
3. Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty.
4. Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn't just help reduce stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health.
5. Lower your cortisol levels with tea and dark chocolate (not the sugary milky kind!). Have a bit to unwind. It is my fave combination personally and it works a treat!
Don’t forget your probiotics and prebiotics though lovely lady! 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 though girlfriend, there are things you can do with your time that can lower cortisol. So many really important habits such as…
1. Reduce your stress with mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol.
2. Get enough exercise (but don’t overdo it). While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels.
3. Get enough sleep! Getting adequate sleep is way too underrated! Anyway one knows me, knows how much I recommend a healthy dose of sleep! Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways.
4. Relax and have fun. Things like deep breathing, massages, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol. Is it time you planned a holiday?
5. 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.
Ultimately, 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 girlfriend, we all know you deserve it!
In the comments below, let me know your favourite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol!
And don't forget to stay tuned this week for a super delicious, easy peasy, high fiber prebiotic chocolate pudding! You are going to LOVE it!