How To Lower Cortisol Naturally To Boost Your Well
So, how to lower cortisol levels naturally when you need to?
You may have heard that certain foods like dark chocolate and green tea decrease cortisol supply. The same can be said for an anti-inflammatory, healthy diet comprising unprocessed foods like whole grains and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
That said, what you eat doesnât make up the entirety of your game plan on how to lower cortisol when you want it low . Instead, itâs very much about positive lifestyle changes in the form of healthy sleep hygiene and stress reduction techniques.
Sugar And Refined Carbohydrates
Sugars, sweeteners and refined carbohydrates can no doubt lead to increases in blood sugar and cortisol levels. Foods to watch for in this category are candy, sodas, juices, many baked goods and snacks such as chips.
What to have instead?
Fill your plate with fibre-rich carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Doing so can help slow down the absorption of sugars and carbohydrates into the bloodstream.
If youre looking for ways to flavour your food or drinks, consider using plant-based sweeteners. Stevia and monk fruit are just two examples. We recommend them because they do not increase blood sugar levels as much as their more traditional counterparts.
Cortisol Studies In Rats
A 1990 study looked at two groups of rats. The first group took a placebo, while the other consumed 200 mg of vitamin C daily. This amount surpasses the daily recommended amount for rats by more than three times.
Both groups were exposed daily to one hour of stress for three weeks. At the end of this time, the researchers found that the vitamin C group had significantly less plasma cortisol levels and stress response compared to the placebo group. The rats that consumed vitamin C were better able to manage stress.
Also Check: How To Treat Hormone Imbalance
Write Down Three Things You’re Grateful For
Research has shown that cultivating gratitude can help you cope with stress by increasing positive emotions and helping you reframe your perspective. In one study, practicing gratitude decreased cortisol levels by 23% in the treatment group, while in others gratitude has been shown to boost life satisfaction, positive affect, and optimism.
Lychee Polyphenols Lower Cortisol Levels
The lychee fruit has been grown in China since at least the 11th century.15 It is rich in polyphenols that promote a variety of biological activities, most notably the ability to fight oxidative stress, inflammation and lower cortisol levels.16
Most lychee polyphenol products available in stores contain long-chain polyphenols which are not easily absorbed in the intestinal tract.
Using a proprietary process, scientists are now able to reduce the polyphenol size through steps that include the addition of green tea catechins.17 This allows the new molecule to be stable and highly bioavailable. When researchers tested the bioavailability of the lychee-green tea blend in humans, they found that the polyphenol content in blood was 3 times higher in comparison to ordinary lychee extract alone.18
Human studies show that the lychee-green tea blend can reduce circulating cortisol levels, and can also oppose other physiological effects of stress.
In one study, scientists enrolled 19 sedentary, but otherwise healthy, male volunteers.16 Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or 100 mg of the new lychee-green tea blend in water each day for 4 weeks. Subjects underwent blood tests for cortisol, markers of inflammation, and other basic evaluations, before and after the supplementation period.
Life-Shortening Impact of Elevated Interleukin-6
One of the deadliest of these inflammatory signals is a cytokine called interleukin-6 .22
Read Also: Does Melatonin Help Acid Reflux
Factors Regulating Production And Secretion Of Cortisol
Cortisol secretion is controlled by circadian rhythm, the negative external stimuli and feedback regulation, as confirmed by studies conducted by Bornstein et al. .
Under the influence of circadian and stress factors, hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone and vasopressin . Arising hormones stimulate the anterior pituitary gland to produce adrenocorticotropic hormone . ACTH affects expression of StAR protein which transports cholesterol across the mitochondrial membrane and allows the process of cortisol formation in the adrenal cortex .
Transport of cortisol takes place in biologically inactive conjunctions with transcortin and albumin . In target cells, it affects the transcription of DNA. In conducted studies, it was found that cortisol can also influence functioning of body, using non-genomic mechanisms .
The bodys response to cortisol depends on its concentration and the concentration of the receptor that is affected by the state of development, timing of cell cycle and endocrine disorders .
What Does Cortisol Do To The Body
The production of cortisol by the adrenal glands is managed by the pituitary gland.
This is the pea-sized gland which sits at the base of your brain, which is sometimes known as the master gland due to the huge effect It has on the whole body.
Its very clever, because when you wake, exercise or going through a stressful experience, your pituitary gland reacts by sending a signal to your adrenal glands so they know what quantity of cortisol to produce.
If your level is too low, your brain regulates the volume of hormones it creates.
These signals are then received by your adrenal glands and the amount of cortisol they release is fine-tuned to ensure you are creating the correct amount.
Don’t Miss: How To Boost Testosterone Level
Stick To A Regular Eating Schedule
Though it can be tricky at times, sticking to an eating schedule is a great way to keep stress under control. This is in part because it takes the guesswork out of when your next meal will be, which in and of itself can be a source of anxiety. In turn, sticking to a schedule can also help prevent stress-eating, another habit that can contribute to an uptick in cortisol levels, especially since we tend to reach for cortisol-boosting sweets and comfort foods when we’re overloaded.
“Recognize if and when you are engaging in stress eating: Try to keep a regular eating schedule where you avoid ever getting too hungry and avoid ever stuffing yourself to the brim,” advises Miller. “Before grabbing a snack, take a minute to ask yourself if you are truly hungry. You may find that you are really just stressed and looking for something to munch on or you are bored. Try to structure an eating routine where you eat a meal/snack every 3-4 hours while awake.”
Eat A Nutritious Diet
Nutrition can influence cortisol for better or for worse.
While all foods can be enjoyed in moderation, being mindful of the foods you eat may alleviate symptoms of stress and help you better manage your cortisol levels.
Regular high added-sugar intake may result in elevated cortisol levels. Interestingly, a high sugar diet may also suppress cortisol release during stressful events, making it more difficult for your body to handle stressful situations (
For better gut and mental health, opt for a nutrient-dense diet full of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and foods high in prebiotics and probiotics.
You May Like: Foods To Avoid For Hormonal Acne
Tend To Your Spirituality
If you consider yourself spiritual, developing your faith can also help improve cortisol levels.
Studies show that adults who expressed spiritual faith experienced lower cortisol levels in the face of life stressors such as illness (
If you do not consider yourself spiritual, these benefits may also be available through meditation, developing a social support group, and performing acts of kindness .
For those with spiritual inclinations, developing faith and participating in prayer can help manage cortisol. Whether youre spiritual or not, performing acts of kindness can also improve your cortisol levels.
Watch Your Sugar Intake
Eating too much sugar is one of the most common triggers of out-of-control cortisol. Eating high-glycemic-index foods causes a rapid spike in blood sugar, and eventually a quick spike in cortisol, explains Greuner. After your blood sugar spikes and insulin shuttles that blood sugar to our cells, our blood sugar crashes. This signals cortisol to step in and release stored sugar into our blood stream to energize us.
Not to mention, the inflammatory refined carbs and sugars found in processed foods are stressful for the body to break down, says DeVille. So, fast food and anything bagged, boxed, canned, or prepackaged can further affect cortisol.
Also Check: Para Que Es El Melatonin
Cortisol Supplements To Combat Low Cortisol Levels
Traditionally, low cortisol levels are managed by means of supplementation. This is usually with synthetic cortisol called prednisone or natural cortisol called hydrocortisone. These cortisol supplements are usually taken orally.
However, these cortisol supplements have their own dangers.
Those on cortisol supplements must track their cortisol levels. The aim is to emulate the natural cortisol progression throughout the day, and supplements need to be adjusted accordingly. Under normal conditions, cortisol concentrations are higher in the mornings than the evenings, and supplementation is geared towards achieving the same effect.
Cortisol supplements however, should only be considered when there are few alternatives left, for example, in cases of tuberculosis or Addisons disease. Western medicine also uses them for psoriasis, certain cancers, and inflammation. This is because synthetic cortisol supplements, when administered over a long period, have a negative effect on the bodys own cortisol production.
The negative side effects of cortisol supplements include:
- Thinning of skin
- Build-up of fat in the chest area, face, and abdomen
- Increase in blood pressure
- Reduction in the bodys ability to produce natural cortisol
C: Connection + Vitamin C
Connection: Connecting with others and maintaining our social interactions is a vital part of managing stress. Isolating ourselves can increase anxiety, depression, and feelings of overwhelm. Our social interactions can help provide a sense of connection and safety during times of stress. This includes intimacy with our partner, maintaining friendships, and quality time with our children, parents, and other loved ones.
Tip: We spend a lot more time with technology instead of with other people these days. Take the time to really connect to those around you, without technology intervening. Make a conscious effort to put your phone away and spend some real quality face to face time with others.
Vitamin C– Your adrenal glands have a high concentration of vitamin C and require vitamin C to produce cortisol. This means your adrenals are using up vitamin C at a more rapid rate, and need extra replenishment, during and after periods of high stress.
Tip: Add some kiwi, grapefruit, strawberries, bell pepper, broccoli, oranges, and Brussels sprouts to your menu for the week to load up on vitamin C.
Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to help lower cortisol levels, especially after intense stress .
Note: If youre going to supplement, quality and source matter. Some vitamin C supplements are high in sugar watch out! Also, look for a vitamin c supplement that is from a non-corn source to allow you to take higher doses without undesireable side effects.
Read Also: Is 6 Mg Of Melatonin Too Much
Magnolia And Phellodendron Bark:
There are about 200 different types of magnolia trees in the world.
Magnolia Officinalis is usually referred to as the houpo magnolia or simply magnolia bark. The houpo magnolia plant is found in China, where it is often used as a supplement in traditional Chinese medication along with Phellodendron.
Though these barks are commonly used in traditional Chinese medications, you might be curious about what the latest study says about the tree bark.
In a trial of 40 women aged 20 to 50, consuming 250 mg extracts of magnolia and Phellodendron bark three times a day relieved them of short-term and transitory anxiety better than taking a placebo .
E: Exercise + Emotions
Exercise is great for your heart, bone health, weight management and metabolism, but it is also a key part of managing your stress. Exercise acts as a natural stress reliever by decreasing cortisol levels and boosting endorphins which help decrease pain, act as a natural mood booster, and help you sleep. As endorphins increase, your stress levels decrease. So while you may be feeling tired from your adrenal fatigue, exercise can actually help boost your energy during the day and give you a more restful nights sleep at night.
Tip: Dont overdo it. If you are feeling even more fatigued after exercise, you are over doing it which is actually stressing out your adrenal glands more than it is helping. Decrease your exercise to an amount where you notice a boost in your energy afterwards and then slowly increase your exercise from there as tolerated.
here for more information about finding the right exercise for you.
Note: I frequently use NET for patients to help identify and work through both past and present emotions that may be contributing to current stress as well as the stress response. Identifying the underlying and usually deep-rooted emotions is vital to being able to work through them.
Recommended Reading: Estrogen Rich Food For Breast Enlargement
Cultivate Good Sleep Hygiene 24/7
Prioritize good sleep hygiene all the time as it keeps your sleep debt low and your body clock in circadian alignment to combat excess cortisol the natural way. From perfecting the ideal sleep environment to cutting off your caffeine consumption, healthy, sleep-promoting behaviors help you get the hours of sleep you need for better energy during the day.
In particular, well-timed light exposure is of vital importance. Light is one of the most potent circadian cues that reset your internal clock. Expose yourself to bright natural light the moment you awake. Steer clear of artificial light sources in the few hours before bed. We recommend wearing blue-light blocking glasses before bedtime to protect your eyeballs from the wavelengths that dampen melatonin production. Doing so helps keep your circadian rhythm running smoothly and meet your sleep need more easily.
Strategic light exposure is only one of the many pieces to the puzzle of optimal sleep hygiene. Only when you have all the tabs in place will you be able to form the full picture of healthy sleep practices and their benefits. To learn the gamut of good sleep hygiene, check out our in-depth Sleep Guide.
Are There Herbs Or Supplements To Reduce Cortisol
The supplement aisle at the natural foods store is hardly a one-way ticket to a stress-free life. But some items may help keep cortisol levels in a healthy range, Dr. Lin says. Research suggests these herbs and natural supplements might lower stress, anxiety and/or cortisol levels:
While some herbs might help lower cortisol levels naturally, you dont want to swallow everything in sight, Dr. Lin says. Teas like lemon balm and chamomile are quite safe. But if youre thinking about trying herbs in supplement form, talk to a trained provider first.
Read Also: Zarbee’s Melatonin Gummies Side Effects
Foods That Contain Serotonin Can Lower Cortisol
Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter responsible for many functions such as digestion, mood regulation and sleep.
Having adequate serotonin can certainly contribute to being less irritable, maintain mood stability and prevent poor quality sleep all of which can worsen with excess cortisol.
In addition, having enough serotonin can make you more resilient and tolerant of stressors in your life. In other words, it can help you avoid feeling like your molehills are mountains.
Which foods contain serotonin?
Dietary sources of serotonin include many fruit: kiwi, papaya, plums, pineapple, plantain and bananas.
Additional sources are foods such as wild rice, green onion, spinach, Napa cabbage, lettuce, potatoes and hazelnuts.
Simple meal ideas that contain serotonin to reduce stress:
- Spring roll stir fry with Napa cabbage
- Wild rice and chicken soup
Avoid Or Limit Alcohol Intake When You’re Stressed
Because alcohol often puts people at ease and makes them feel relaxed, you might think that it has the ability to lower cortisol levels. In fact, the exact opposite is true. A study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that men who had just one drink a week saw a three percent rise in their cortisol levels, and those levels can be even higher if you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure.
“We see people using alcohol to help relax however, alcohol is a depressant. While yes, in the moment you may feel ‘better,’ alcohol causes several issues that appear later on,” says Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, who serves on the advisory board for Smart Healthy Living.
“Also, alcohol can also depress your mood. Couple a depressed mood with stress and you may find yourself in a terrible rut,” she adds. “Alcohol can also disrupt deep sleep, so not only will you be hungover after a night of drinking, but you may also feel sick and lack a good night’s sleep!”
Also Check: What Hormones Are In Birth Control
An Overview Of Magnesium Supplementation
Our bodies are designed to obtain magnesium from the food we eat. However, the modern diet that many of us eat is poor in magnesium. Foods such as green, leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are rich in magnesium, and were once part of our staple diet. These days, however, they are often replaced by processed foods that contain little to no magnesium.
Another consideration is the soil. Modern farming practices and man-made fertilizers have depleted soils nutrients. This means that any food that is not grown organically has substantially fewer of these nutrients than what our grandparents and great-grandparents used to get.
A comparison of studies in food nutrient quality between 1950 and 1999 suggested that crops cultivated to grow more rapidly and have a higher yield have a drastically decreased nutrient value. The same results were found in studies conducted in other countries. This means that even foods once high in magnesium are drawing less of the nutrient from the soil.
Natural Ways To Lower Your Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a stress hormone the adrenal glands release. It helps your body deal with stressful situations, as your brain triggers its release through the sympathetic nervous system the fight or flight system in response to many different kinds of stress .
While the short-term release of cortisol can help you run quickly from danger, when cortisol levels are too high for too long, this hormone can hurt you more than it helps .
Over time, this can lead to an array of health issues such as weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, insomnia or difficulty sleeping, mood irregularities, and low energy levels (
This article discusses 11 ways to help naturally lower your cortisol levels.
Don’t Miss: Best Way To Take Testosterone