What Foods Raises Cortisol?
Cortisol is a natural hormone produced in times of stress, but when produced excessively it can cause adrenal fatigue and lead to other health concerns.
However, you can easily control your levels of this hormone by avoiding certain foods and following a healthy diet.
1. Refined Carbohydrates
Cortisol plays an essential role in mobilizing glucose from your blood during times of stress, providing fuel to respond rapidly to perceived threats while then decreasing cortisol levels after stressful situations have subsided. Therefore, when selecting carbohydrates for workout or training sessions it’s essential that these are chosen wisely; foods containing refined sugar will cause cortisol levels to spike rapidly while complex carbs such as whole grain products and fruit will help balance them out and regulate cortisol.
Cortisol levels may rise over time for various reasons. An elevated cortisol level could be caused by overactivity of pituitary or adrenal glands, chronic stress, medication side effects (e.g. prednisone) or obesity – all which may contribute to elevated levels of cortisol.
High cortisol levels often result in difficulty focusing, commonly known as “brain fog.” Additionally, elevated cortisol can affect immune response making infections harder to battle off and even sometimes leading to Cushing’s syndrome in more extreme cases.
Foods known to help lower cortisol include omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to decrease inflammation within the body. Furthermore, it’s essential that adequate rest be obtained along with adhering to a regular sleep schedule.
One effective way of controlling cortisol levels is through diet. Eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables as well as lean protein sources is the cornerstone of managing cortisol effectively, while cutting back on refined sugar and caffeine consumption (e.g. soda and coffee) will also help your blood sugar remain steady while decreasing production of cortisol. Furthermore, adding fermented and high-protein foods into your diet may further support blood sugar stability as well as increasing serotonin production while simultaneously supporting gut health and improving immunity – those concerned about their dietary habits should meet with health coaches or nutritionists for guidance on specific meal plans to lower cortisol levels.
2. Refined Grains
Refined grains contain low levels of fiber and are digested quickly, leading to increased insulin and blood sugar production and strain on adrenal glands. Eating foods high in fiber promotes more balanced blood sugar levels which may help lower cortisol production.
Grains are an integral component of modern Western diet, typically taken as flour, bread, noodles, pasta cereal and crackers. Refined grains typically contain less fiber than their whole counterparts as their bran and germ have been removed for processing, meaning these products tend to contain higher amounts of fat and calories than foods made with whole grains.
Studies have linked refined grain consumption with coronary artery disease (CAD), gout, hypertension and obesity; however, results vary wildly and could be affected by other factors; an increase in coronary risk could be related to an overall higher intake of unhealthy foods rather than refined grains themselves; additionally, smoking cessation, physical inactivity reduction and an imbalance of gut flora may all increase hypertension risk and obesity risks.
Consumption of high-fat processed meats may increase cortisol levels when eaten on a regular basis, particularly since these meats contain saturated fat, trans fats and nitrates which increase cortisol. Furthermore, eating too many processed meats leads to less fiber intake – an essential element for controlling hormones like cortisol.
Avoid processed meats in favor of lean proteins like chicken and fish that contain vitamin C, magnesium, folate and leafy green vegetables that contain nutrients that help balance cortisol levels such as kale, collard greens and spinach. Probiotic-rich foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir also support intestinal health – essential components in keeping adrenaline and cortisol stable.
3. Low-Fiber Carbohydrates
Diets that contain carbohydrates without sufficient fiber content can increase cortisol levels dramatically, as your body digests these foods quickly, leading to elevated blood sugar and insulin levels that increase stress, fatigue, and unhappiness. Furthermore, an improper digestive system can further exacerbate internal stress levels.
Avoid foods like breads, pasta, and rice if you want to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Opt instead for whole grains and fibrous vegetables as these will provide your body with steady sources of energy. Also ensure to limit processed sweeteners which may increase your blood sugar levels; try honey or stevia as natural forms of sweetness instead.
Dieting can help keep cortisol under control by eating a whole-food, plant-based diet rich in fiber and healthy fats derived from nuts and seeds, along with plenty of protein-rich foods like beans and legumes, lentils and fish which are known to boost serotonin levels to alleviate anxiety and relieve stress.
Consuming enough vitamins and minerals is also essential. Try including foods high in vitamin C to combat stress, along with those rich in folic acid such as asparagus or cannellini beans which contain phosphatidylserine for brain health benefits. For instance, berries are rich in Vitamin C while asparagus boasts high folic acid levels while cannellini beans offer both.
Eating more fruits and vegetables, which contain antioxidants to combat oxidative stress, is also key. Be sure to include more cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage into your meals as these contain cancer-fighting sulforaphane – potentially helping lower cortisol levels as a result of elevated cortisol levels.
Lastly, those suffering from adrenal fatigue should aim to eat every three hours in order to maintain proper blood sugar levels. Otherwise, too little blood is made available and this puts added strain on the adrenal glands, prompting them to produce more cortisol which in turn causes stress-inducing effects.
4. Refined Sugar
Sugar can be found in foods labeled as healthy such as fruit juices, pasta sauces, yoghurt and breakfast cereals; however, most sugar eaten in Western society is refined sugar extracted from sugar cane or beet plants and then refined before being added to various food products. Refined sugar converts rapidly into energy in your body while contributing to weight gain, increasing diabetes risks and tooth decay risks – our bodies were designed to use energy from fats and complex carbs rather than simple sugars for energy supply; too much refined sugar can have detrimental health implications on health conditions that would otherwise not arise.
Diets high in refined sugar can contribute to an imbalance of cortisol levels, leading to mood disorders, low energy levels, difficulty sleeping and digestive issues. If cortisol levels remain elevated for an extended period, they could even increase muscle weakness, pre-diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and osteoporosis risk factors.
Cortisol is an essential hormone that regulates several body functions, such as hunger, blood pressure, metabolism, glucose and metabolism. If it becomes unregulated, symptoms could include anxiety or depression; digestive disorders; memory issues and an impaired immune system resulting in significant discomfort to a range of symptoms affecting an individual.
Diet plays an integral part in managing cortisol levels. Eating nutritious foods such as vegetables, whole grains and fruits while limiting fat and sugar-laden products will be key in helping your body reduce cortisol. Furthermore, staying hydrated will also play a significant role in decreasing cortisol levels.
Eating a diet rich in nutrients will be key in lowering cortisol, along with getting adequate restful sleep and managing stress levels. Natural solutions may also be beneficial, such as taking melatonin supplements or engaging in relaxation techniques; for those experiencing mental health conditions like stress or anxiety that contribute to elevated cortisol levels it may also be worthwhile consulting a psychologist or counselor for further support.