The Effects of Stress
Stress is our body's way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When we sense danger—whether it's real or imagined—the body's defense is to kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the "stress response".
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 come through the crisis. But, that doesn’t happen too much in our hectic lifestyle - it becomes a long-term reaction. Constant stress becomes chronic and can lead to a cascade of health consequences.
You’ve probably heard of the main stress hormone, called “cortisol.” It’s released from our adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning to get us going, and slowly fades during the day so we can sleep.
Did you know that high levels of cortisol are associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and it even lowers our immunity?
Do you experience any of these? Well, then read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations to help lower this stress hormone naturally!
Foods and Nutrients to Lower Cortisol
High doses of caffeine also increase cortisol levels. If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you are drinking.
Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol. We need to make sure we are drinking enough water every day. If you are wondering how much water to drink; divide your weight in pounds in half and then aim to drink that many ounces of water per day.
Choosing healthy foods can impact mood, help relieve tension, balance blood sugars and send stress packing! Here are some of my favourite stress busting foods.
Dark leafy greens rich in folate help the body produce mood regulating neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Turkey helps produce tryptophan which has a calming effect. Wild salmon is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids along with being anti-inflammatory it plays a role in keeping cortisol levels in check. Blueberries contain antioxidants and phytonutrients which improve our body's response to stress.
We can also lower cortisol levels with herbal tea and dark chocolate (not the sugary milky kind!). Have a bit to unwind.
Don’t forget about probiotics and prebiotics! There is so much new research about the gut-mind connection, and how taking care of our 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
Here is a list of my favourite stress busting activities:
- Mindfulness: Reduce your stress with mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol.
- Physical Activity: While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, physical activity can reduce overall stress levels.
- Adequate Rest: Getting adequate sleep is way too underrated. Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve our overall health in so many ways.
- Relax and have fun: Meditation, deep breathing, massage, journaling and listening to relaxing music can all help reduce stress.
- Enjoy Good Company: 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 love and who support you is key.
Stress plays a key role in our overall health and wellbeing. Finding simple strategies to help us calm our bodies is a top priority if we want to have vibrant energy and a healthy lean body!
De-Stressing Chocolate Pudding
3 ripe avocados
¼ cup cacao powder (unsweetened)
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 dash salt
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Try adding a pinch of cinnamon for a deeper flavour.
"Since starting your program I have been sleeping better than I have in years! I feel so much more calm and focused and have better energy during the day. I just feel so much happier."
Simple Swaps Member: Karen
Time To Lower Stress
Stress is unavoidable. We all deal with it from time to time, however chronic stress can really impact our weight, health and wellbeing.
Stress is something I deal in my busy life with 6 children, running my own business and a husband that travels a lot, but I have found various techniques and stress relievers that really help me stay calm and focused. I would love to share more with you. I am just a phone call away.
Click the button below to book your free 30 minute health coaching session, I want to hear about your struggles and any questions regarding stress and share simple tips to start you on your journey to vibrant health and a lean body.