There is a good chance the word rings a bell to you: cortisol. But what is it and how does it affect you?
Cortisol is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter -chemical messengers in the nervous system – in your brain. It is known as the “stress hormone”. Our body produces it during intense or threatening situations to help us face them.
Studies have shown that moderate levels of cortisol can be good for your health, as it is needed for those fight or flight response scenarios. Moreover, it can produce positive effects such as controlling your blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
However, although the amount of cortisol you have is highly regulated by your body to ensure the balance is correct, sometimes your body can produce too much or too little of it. When you feel overly stressed, your cortisol levels can remain high, which can have a detrimental effect on your health.
When you feel stressed and your cortisol levels are off-balance, here are a couple of things you can do to remove the hormone from your body naturally:
- Learn how to cope with stress better
- Eat a good diet
Some foods that may help to keep cortisol levels stable include:
- Dark chocolate
- Bananas and pears
- Black or green tea
- Probiotics in food such as yoghurt
- Probiotics in foods containing soluble fibre
- Water: Drinking plenty of water can help you avoid dehydration, which helps keep cortisol levels low.
- Avoid caffeine during the night: Good sleep can help keep cortisol levels low, and caffeine interferes with it.
- Exercising: It should come as no surprise that exercising not only has many physical benefits, but it also helps reduce stress and does lower our cortisol levels.
- Sleeping well: A bad night’s sleep can affect your quality of life and increase your cortisol levels. Make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
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