(Natural News) Most people have accepted stress as a constant part of their lives, but there are so many reasons why you should not take this lightly. Countless studies have shown just how bad stress can be for a person’s health. One of the ways stress damages your health is by increasing cortisol levels in the body.
In small amounts, the stress hormone cortisol helps improve health. It is involved in many bodily functions, especially metabolism and the fight-or-flight response. During periods of stress, cortisol gives your body an energy boost to help you overcome the stress. This is why cortisol levels are typically higher during the morning and then decrease throughout the day. Moreover, cortisol is involved in the production of blood sugar and the conversion of metabolites like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into usable energy.
Too much cortisol in the body, which can be attributed to stress, lack of sleep, infections, or white light exposure, can become a problem since it depletes the adrenals that also produce other hormones. This can lead to frequent headaches, hypersensitivity, chronic fatigue, and mood swings. Furthermore, excessive amounts of cortisol impair immune functions and contribute to weight gain, especially around the belly. Visceral belly fat is known to be harmful to be extremely dangerous and has been associated with increased mortality risk.
Nutrients that help improve cortisol levels
Diet is crucial to maintaining optimal health. So if you suffer from high cortisol levels, it should be one of the things that you should immediately address.
It is important to follow a diet that has limited amounts of processed foods since trans-fats, sugar, and sodium found in these can worsen your condition. Instead, you should go for nutritious whole foods. Some of the most important nutrients that you should include in your diet to reduce cortisol levels include the following:
- Omega-3 fatty acids — Omega-3, which is commonly found in fish oil, is known for having a lot of health benefits and these include regulating cortisol levels. Studies have shown that taking fish oil for three weeks significantly improves cortisol levels, as well as heart rate and blood pressure. Food sources of omega-3 include flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans, and fatty fish.
- B vitamins — This nutrient doesn’t just reduce cortisol levels, it also supports healthy adrenal function. B-vitamins are also great stress relievers since they promote a sense of calm while boosting energy. To get your daily dose of B vitamins, you can go for supplements or foods like wild caught fish, pasture-raised meats, eggs, and dark leafy greens.
- Adaptogenic herbs — Ashwagandha, holy basil, and ginseng are adaptogenic herbs that help regulate cortisol and stress levels. Moreover, these herbs have been shown to reduce fatigue and boost energy.
By including these nutrients in your diet, you can improve your cortisol levels even if you constantly find yourself in stressful situations. (Related: These supplements are proven to reduce cortisol levels.)
Other ways to reduce excessive amounts of cortisol
There are other ways to improve your cortisol levels naturally. Some examples of these include the following:
- Getting a massage — If you’ve been under a lot of stress lately, treat yourself to a massage. Studies have shown that this can reduce your cortisol levels by up to 31 percent and even boost your serotonin and dopamine levels to make you happier.
- Listening to music — Music can do wonders for your body. Blasting out your favorite tunes before or during stressful situations helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- Sleeping — Sleep deprivation is a major contributor to stress and cortisol levels so always make sure that you get enough good quality sleep. Get better sleep at night by avoiding naps and sticking to a regular sleeping pattern.
For more news articles on stress and how you can get manage it naturally, visit Health.news.