Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is released in the body when you experience emotional, mental, or physical stress. This hormone aids in the body’s flight or fight response, giving you the energy to deal with the stress.
In the short term, this burst of extra energy can be helpful. However, high cortisol levels are extremely disruptive to the body and may result in numerous health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, depression, anxiety and weight gain.
If you have experienced any of these problems following a particularly difficult time, in your life or want to avoid them because of stress you’re experiencing now, you will need to take steps that can help stabilize your cortisol levels. This can be done through a healthy diet, regular exercise, good sleep hygiene, and supplementing with nutrients.
- You don’t need me to tell you a poor night’s rest stresses you out. To avoid the elevated cortisol brought on by the stress of fatigue, you must get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day.
- Incorporate eggs, lean meat, oily fish such as salmon and tuna, flaxseed, citrus fruits, berries, fortified cereals, dark leafy greens, and create a diet high fiber and lean protein. Eating five small meals a day will also lower your cortisol, relieving your body of hunger stress, and help with the food cravings associated with high levels of cortisol.
- Significantly decrease your starch and carbohydrate consumption. Eliminate sugar. It will be very difficult to do this initially as cortisol increases your desire for sweet food and carbohydrates. Satiate yourself at those times with fruits.
- Many people find after a stressful period that they seem to gain weight around the midsection. This is due to abdominal fat having greater density in the abdomen and four times more cortisol receptors.
- Regular exercise 3 to 5 times a week is extremely important in regulating the body’s cortisol levels. When you exercise your body will produce more natural dopamine and endorphins that will combat depression, lethargy, and anxiety. You will also shed the pounds and bloat brought on by elevated cortisol.
- Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to be highly effective in lowering cortisol levels.
- Vitamin C may be one of the best supplements out there. Known best for fighting the common cold, vitamin C has also been understood for years as a highly effective stress management supplement.
- B Complex vitamins are often recommended by psychiatrists for mood disorders because of their power to create a calm energy in their users. B vitamins also support healthy adrenal functioning and production and combat elevated cortisol levels.
Now it’s your turn: What have you done to help your body recover after a long period of stress? Did you notice your body change after a stressful period?