This world is busier than ever.  And whether you live in the bustle of a big city, or in the calm of the countryside – you’re likely faced with keeping up with “the busy”.  From the never ending to-do list at work, home and (if you’re lucky) in your social life…  to the now constant noise, bombarding us from social media, news, and advertisements, you may feel like you’re often reacting to the outside world, while trying to keep your sanity in check.  

This, my friends is STRESS!!!

Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Would you agree?

And if we’re not careful and take care of ourselves, this constant overwhelm from the outside world, can take over our inside world…  causing discomfort and eventually disease.

So what is stress?

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 – its become a long-term reaction. Its become 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 to 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 (not the sugary milky kind!). 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.

Reduce your stress with mindfulness.

Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol.

Get enough exercise (but don’t overdo it). While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels.  

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.

Relax and have fun. Things like deep breathing, massages, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol.

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.

If this all feels like something you know, but need reminders and support, join my Closed Facebook Group (Living Well Without Borders) – to get access to weekly classes & challenges, content on yoga, mindful meditation and holistic living (in nutrition & self-care), and connect with like-minded people to support you to come back into alignment. By living WELL – you will balance your stress hormones, release stress and revive your natural energy cycles to support living your most meaningful life!

Conclusion

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!

Recipe: (High fiber prebiotic): De-Stressing Chocolate Pudding

Serves 6
  • 3 ripe avocados
  • ¼ cup cacao powder (unsweetened)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup or honey (I use a little less… so play with it!)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 dash salt

Instructions

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.  TIP: If you want to make it a bit bit thinner – add a little of your favorite non-dairy milk.   Also, try adding a pinch of cinnamon for a deeper flavour. 

Serve & enjoy!

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