Cortisol is a hormone produced in the body when the body feels physical, emotional, or mental stress. It is typically known as the “stress hormone.” Cortisol is necessary for the body to function. It helps the body wake in the morning, shuts down other body systems to conserve energy, and gives greater focus during dangerous or stressful situations. However, as with all hormones, it can become unbalanced, especially in today’s hectic world. When the body has elevated cortisol levels, the body can feel fatigued, and the mind can feel unfocused and depressed. The immune system is weakening, and losing weight becomes next to impossible because the body wants to hold onto fat stores the body may need during a crisis. This hormone may be a survival mechanism, but it can be challenging for the busy person trying to lose weight and regain mental clarity.
The inspiration for this post came from author, Caroline MacDougall at the following website.
Here Are 7 Tips To Naturally Reduce Cortisol in The Body:
1. Eliminate caffeine from your diet. It’s the quickest way to reduce cortisol production and elevate the production of DHEA, the leading anabolic youth hormone. 200 mg of caffeine (one 12 oz mug of coffee) increases blood cortisol levels by 30% in one hour! Cortisol can remain elevated for up to 18 hours in the blood. Cortisol is naturally high in the morning to help the body wake up. A cup of coffee only fuels the fire. Black tea, even though it contains caffeine, lowers cortisol levels in the blood by almost 50%, making it a wonderful coffee substitute.
2. Sleep deeper and longer. The average 50 year old has nighttime cortisol levels more than 30 times higher than the average 30 year old. Try taking melatonin, a natural hormone produced at night that helps regulate sleep/wake cycles, before going to sleep to boost your own melatonin production that also decreases with age. You may not need it every night, but if you are waking up in the middle of the night or too early in the morning, melatonin can help you sleep deeper and lengthen your sleep cycle. If you get sleepy during the day even though you had plenty of rest, back off the melatonin for a while. It’s a sign you are getting too much.
3. Exercise regularly to build muscle mass and increase brain output of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that reduce anxiety and depression. DHEA supplements shorten the adaptation period when out-of-shape muscles discourage people from continuing to exercise before they get in shape. DHEA also accelerates the building of muscle mass and increases the feeling of being strong and energetic.
4. Keep your blood sugar stable. Avoid sugar in the diet and refined carbohydrates to keep from spiking your insulin production. Eat frequent small meals balanced in protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats like olive oil and flax seed oil. Diets rich in complex carbohydrates keep cortisol levels lower than low carbohydrate diets.
5. Keep well hydrated. Dehydration puts the body in stress and raises cortisol levels. Keep pure water by your bed and drink it when you first wake up and before you go to sleep.
6. Take anti-stress supplements like B vitamins, minerals like calcium, magnesium, chromium and zinc, and antioxidants like vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid, grapeseed extract, and Co Q 10. Adaptogen herbs like ginseng, astragalus, eleuthero, schizandra, Tulsi (holy basil), rhodiola, and ashwagandha help the body cope with the side effects of stress and rebalance the metabolism. These supplement and herbs will not only lower cortisol levels but they will also help you decrease the effects of stress on the body by boosting the immune system.
7. Meditate or listen to relaxation tapes that promote the production of alpha (focused alertness) and theta (relaxed) brain waves. Avoid jolting alarm clocks that take you from delta waves (deep sleep) to beta waves (agitated and anxious) and stimulants like caffeine that promote beta waves while suppressing alpha and theta waves. Meditation and yoga not only reduce stress, but can enhance awareness, focus, posture, balance, and overall wellbeing. Namaste Yoga by Dr. Melissa West, available on youTube, offers hundreds of free, full-length classes.
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