Sometimes I just want to go out in the backyard and scream my head off. But, I would scare the dogs, the squirrels and the birds; so I don’t. I keep imagining how much better I would feel though, if I actually did it.
Have you ever just wanted to SCREAM!
We have this compulsion to get it all done NOW! Then, when we can’t, we get irritated at ourselves and anyone who has the unfortunate moment of being in our way.
Do you know what this is called?
Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Wouldn’t 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. Not sure about you, but I haven’t had to run for my life lately.
What I have done though, is kept my natural stress response on active duty and have allowed it to become a chronic situation for my body and my health.
You’ve probably heard of the main stress hormone called “cortisol.” I call this our “public enemy number 1” in our on going battle of getting healthy. 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.
Our problem, the superwomen that we are, is that we don’t allow our cortisol levels to fade slowly into the sunset. Not us power women, oh no, we keep ours on high alert day in and day out.
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?
I was always frustrated that I could not lose the belly fat, now I know why. My cortisol levels were in high gear all the time. In fact, I had never heard of cortisol until those cortisol supplement commercials started; then I got curious as to what they were referring to.
Do you experience any of the symptoms associated with elevated levels of cortisol? I believe I had them all.
Well, read on superwoman, because I’ve got a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations that will help you lower this stress hormone naturally! Plus a delicious “dessert” recipe at the end.
Foods and nutrients to lower cortisol
Before we talk about foods that lower our cortisol, let’s look at some foods that keep our cortisol levels high. We know that our cortisol levels stay elevated when we’re constantly on the go. What you may not have realized is that there are some foods that can also keep your cortisol levels high.
Sugar is one of the biggies that will increase your cortisol levels. Depending on how you eat, you may not realize the amount of sugar you consume in a day. If you’re eating a diet high in processed foods, then you are consuming a lot of sugar. The food industry has hidden sugar in everything they manufacture.
Reducing the amount of sugar we eat and drink can be a great step toward better health for our minds (and bodies). Note: I offer a program to help you kick your sugar habit. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get started reducing your sugar intake.
Caffeine in high doses will 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. Before transitioning into a healthier lifestyle, I never drank water. So, I’m sure I was extremely dehydrated. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty. Rule to follow: Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day.
Now that you know some of the foods that will increase your cortisol, let me share some foods to help lower your cortisol.
Always, I mean daily, eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn’t just help reduce your cortisol stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health. Note: I also have a program to get you started eating healthy nutrient-dense whole foods. Let me know when you want to get started.
Lower your cortisol levels with your favorite green tea. Green tea is caffeine free and you have many flavors to choose from. Begin by substituting a cup of green tea for one cup of coffee.
My favorite cortisol reducing food is eating an ounce of dark chocolate (not the sugary milky kind!) per day. Make sure your chocolate is 75% or higher in cacao and don’t eat more than one ounce per day. Chocolate is good for the soul and helps you unwind after a long stress filled day. I like to just put it in my mouth and let it dissolve.
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.
That is some foods that will help you lower your cortisol, now let’s look at some lifestyle choices.
Lifestyle techniques to lower cortisol
Reduce your stress with mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol. Take time to meditate during the day. You can also start the habit of keeping a daily journal. Close out your day with journal in hand and recap your day and all that you are thankful for. Find something to bring calmness to your soul.
Get enough exercise (but don’t overdo it). While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels. When you are constantly on the go you may feel that you get enough exercise, but probably not. Take a long walk, ride your bike or go for a swim. You want to exercise, but you don’t want to add additional stress. I like to walk and enjoy nature. When it gets too cold for me to walk, then I use an indoor pedal exerciser and read for a while.
Sleep and sleep some more. Getting adequate sleep is way too underrated. Sleep reduces cortisol levels and helps improve your overall health in so many ways. Back in the day, I would operate on 3 or 4 hours of sleep every day. Now, I do my best to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day. This has made a huge difference in my health and energy levels.
Relax and have fun. I know, easier said than done. But do it anyway. Things like deep breathing, massages, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol.
Be social and bust loneliness. The problem with us superwomen is that we may not take time to join in social activities. Would you believe me if I told you that science has shown there are 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 to good health.
Cortisol can be our enemy when we don’t allow it to function as it was meant to. When we’re constantly on the go, we pump too much cortisol into our system and then our health suffers. Take a moment and reflect on your lifestyle and determine if you may be suffering from too much cortisol. Then implement some of these steps to begin to get your cortisol levels in balance and experience better health.
To get you started, here is a little recipe for you to try. And, as always, let me know in the comments below or in our members Facebook Group Healthy Living For Life, your favorite ways to get your cortisol under control. Let me know how you like the chocolate pudding.
Avocado Chocolate Pudding
- 3 Ripe Avocados
- 1/4 Cup Cacao Powder Organic
- 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup Organic
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract Organic
- 1 Dash Sea Salt Organic
- Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve and Enjoy!
- Tip: Try adding a pinch of cinnamon for a deeper flavor.