Cortisol is the hormone that promotes stress in the body, and learning to avoid foods that increase cortisol levels can have an positive effect on your stress levels. In fact, after removing these foods from my diet, I found my anxiety, depression and obsessive tendencies seemed to disappear. Not to mention, my health improved dramatically. Exclude these foods that increase cortisol as soon as possible and you’ll kick your stress to the curb in no time, without any pills needed!
1 Trans Fats
Trans fats are some of the worst foods that increase cortisol in the body. Though most food companies have omitted this ingredient, it is now becoming common for food companies to add this ingredient in and market it under other names like hydrogenated oils or fat, partially hydrogenated oils or fat, or shortening. Even if it is labeled "trans fat free," it can legally contain up to .5-2 grams of trans fats and still obtain that label. Always read the ingredients to be safe. Trans fats increase cholesterol in the body, which is the reason they raise your cortisol levels and affect arterial flow.
Trans fats are a type of fat that is created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil in order to make it more solid. This process is known as hydrogenation and it helps to extend the shelf life of food products. Trans fats are found in many processed foods such as margarine, shortening, and some types of chips and crackers.
Trans fats have been linked to a number of health issues, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. They also increase cortisol levels in the body, which can contribute to a number of health issues. Studies have shown that trans fats can increase cholesterol levels, which can lead to an increased risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.
Trans fats can also affect arterial flow, which can put extra strain on the heart. Eating a diet high in trans fats can also lead to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
2 Refined Sugar
Sugar in most forms, but especially refined, will raise your cortisol worse than almost any other food. Sugar raises the blood sugar too quickly and then causes it to plummet. Taking care of your blood sugar is crucial to reducing cortisol. Within an hour, you’ll likely suffer a crash and crave sugar worse than before you ate it. This can create an addiction, which has been closely related to how people crave and need drugs to maintain this sense of euphoria in the body. Until the body gets sugar, cortisol will spike at ultimately high levels, and over time, your body can become insulin resistant and cortisol levels will remain high most of the time. Get a handle on your stress and kick sugar to the curb!
Refined sugar is one of the most dangerous foods for your cortisol levels. Eating sugar causes your blood sugar to spike and then plummet, leading to a crash and a craving for more sugar. Eating sugar can become an addiction, as it creates a sense of euphoria in the body. Over time, your body can become insulin resistant and cortisol levels will remain high.
It is important to reduce your sugar intake in order to reduce your cortisol levels. Eating too much sugar can cause a host of health issues, from diabetes and obesity to heart disease and stroke. Eating sugar also increases inflammation in the body, which can lead to a number of chronic diseases.
In addition, sugar can interfere with sleep, as it can cause a spike in cortisol at night. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. It can also make it harder to wake up in the morning, as your body is still trying to process the sugar.
Finally, sugar is a major contributor to weight gain. Eating too much sugar can lead to an increase in body fat, which can lead to an increase in cortisol. Eating a balanced diet and avoiding processed and refined sugars is key to reducing cortisol and maintaining a healthy weight.
Frequently asked questions
Cortisol is a hormone your body makes. It's sometimes called the 'stress hormone' because it helps your body deal with stress.
Too much cortisol over a long time can be bad for your health. It can make you gain weight, feel stressed out, and have trouble sleeping or thinking.
Foods high in sugar, caffeine, or unhealthy fats can make your body produce more cortisol.
Yes, eating a lot of sugar can make your cortisol levels go up.
Yes, coffee has caffeine which can raise your cortisol levels, especially if you drink a lot.
Even healthy foods, if not balanced or eaten in large amounts, could stress your body and increase cortisol. But generally, healthy foods are less likely to raise cortisol.
Yes, not eating for too long can stress your body and raise cortisol.
No, other things like being very stressed, not sleeping well, or being sick can also make cortisol go up.
Yes, eating less sugar and caffeine, and making sure you have regular, balanced meals can help lower cortisol.
Not all fats are bad. Healthy fats like those from avocados and nuts are good for you. Cutting out only the unhealthy fats might help with cortisol levels.
If you're worried, it's best to talk to a doctor or a dietitian. They can help you understand what to eat and do to keep healthy cortisol levels.
3 Caffeine Overload
Listen girls, I love my morning cup of coffee and a cup of green tea a day like most of you, but that is all the caffeine I can handle without me noticing my stress levels go up. Caffeine overload is just as associated with cortisol production as refined sugars and trans fats. Since it affects blood sugar, too much can cause a rise in blood sugar and you may think you need food or sugar, and actually just be suffering a caffeine withdrawal. Starbucks didn't make their mutli-billion industry on accident, girls; think about it! Be sure to limit the caffeine you drink each day, and never choose sources of caffeine like soda or tea made with sugar, which can have a twofold effect on your stress levels. If you drink coffee, keep the add-ins clean, such as low fat milks like unsweetened almond or skim milk, and keep the sweeteners to small amounts of natural ones like stevia or honey.
Cortisol is a hormone released by our bodies in response to stress, and too much of it can have a negative effect on our overall health. Many of us are familiar with the effects of caffeine on our bodies, but few of us realize that caffeine can actually increase cortisol production.
When we consume caffeine, it triggers the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands. This hormone helps our body to respond to stress, but too much of it can lead to increased anxiety, fatigue, and even depression. Additionally, caffeine can also affect blood sugar levels, leading to a feeling of hunger and cravings for sugary foods.
It's important to be mindful of the amount of caffeine we consume, as too much can lead to a caffeine overload. This can have a twofold effect on cortisol production, as caffeine can both increase cortisol levels and cause our bodies to become dependent on it.
4 Low Fiber Foods
Foods low in fiber affect your cortisol levels a couple of ways. First, they don’t keep you as full and don’t produce regularity in the stools. This can increase internal stress in the body, and upset the gastrointestinal organs, which have a large effect on your stress levels. Fruit and veggies are the best sources of fiber, along with soluble sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds and psyllium.
Low fiber foods can have a significant impact on cortisol levels. Eating foods low in fiber can lead to feelings of being less full, which can increase internal stress in the body. This can affect the gastrointestinal organs, as they are closely linked to cortisol levels. Eating a diet low in fiber can also lead to irregularity in the stools, which can further increase stress levels.
Fiber is an important part of any balanced diet, and it is recommended to include a variety of fruit and vegetables, as well as other sources of soluble fiber such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and psyllium. Eating these foods can help to keep your cortisol levels in check and reduce feelings of stress.
Fiber is also important for digestion and can help to reduce bloating and abdominal discomfort. Eating foods that are high in fiber can help to move food through the digestive system more quickly, which can help to reduce stress levels. Additionally, soluble fiber can help to slow down the absorption of sugar, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce cortisol levels.
Okay, technically, alcohol is not a food, but it must be included here because it can greatly affect your stress levels. Alcohol is toxic to the liver and because the body cannot break down alcohol, this creates an internal stress for the body, lifting cortisol levels. It also acts as a downer, which can depress the mood, and cause addictive properties.
Alcohol consumption can have a negative effect on your overall health, both physically and mentally. Heavy drinking can lead to an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis, cancer, and heart disease. In addition, alcohol can interfere with the body's ability to absorb essential vitamins and minerals, and can also lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Furthermore, alcohol can increase cortisol levels by disrupting the body's natural circadian rhythm and by causing dehydration. Long-term alcohol use can also increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. It is important to remember that alcohol should be consumed in moderation and to always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider if you are concerned about your alcohol consumption.
6 Refined Grains
Just like refined sugar, you should avoid refined grains, which is any grain that isn’t labeled 100% whole grain. Multi-grain is not whole grain. In addition, even whole grains that contain gluten have been linked to cortisol production, so always choose non-gluten grains whenever possible, such as brown rice, gluten-free oats, quinoa, millet, buckwheat and amaranth if at all possible. Refined grains are void of nutrients, and can increase cortisol by increasing the glycemic index directly.
Refined grains are a major source of carbohydrates in the modern diet. They are found in a variety of processed foods, from breads and cereals to snack foods and pastries. Refined grains are often stripped of their fiber, vitamins, and minerals during processing, making them a less nutritious option than whole grains.
In addition to being nutritionally inferior, refined grains can also increase cortisol production in the body. Eating refined grains causes a rapid rise in blood sugar, which triggers the release of insulin and cortisol. This surge in cortisol can cause a variety of health issues, including weight gain, fatigue, and difficulty managing stress.
Fortunately, there are plenty of healthier alternatives to refined grains. Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth, contain all the essential nutrients and fiber that refined grains lack. They also have a lower glycemic index, which means they cause a slower and steadier rise in blood sugar. Eating these whole grains instead of refined grains can help keep cortisol levels in check.
7 Too Much Animal Saturated Fat
Saturated fats from animals have the same affect on cortisol as trans fats do. This includes too much butter, too many eggs, whole milk, meats that aren’t lean and poultry that isn’t lean cut. Be sure to eat lean choices of grass-fed meats and poultry, and eat eggs in moderation (around 5 per week at most). Also, butter isn’t the worst thing you could eat, but be sure to choose grass-fed organic butter, and only use a few tablespoons a week to be safe. As a better option, choose plant-based coconut butter or coconut oil, which is saturated but acts completely different on the body than butter. It has actually been linked to a decrease of cortisol levels.
Now, I realize many of you may love some of these foods or disagree with my advice, however the research on all of these foods is quite solid. By reducing these foods and eating more of the basics, such as fish, lean meats, plant proteins, plant fats, veggies, fruits, and whole grains and seeds, you can successfully decrease your cortisol levels and eat the stress away! What are your favorite stress-free foods? I know chocolate is one of mine, as long as I keep it in moderation!
In addition to animal saturated fats, other foods that can increase cortisol levels include processed foods, sugary snacks and drinks, and caffeine. Eating processed foods can increase your body's cortisol levels due to the high levels of artificial ingredients and preservatives. Sugary snacks and drinks also spike cortisol levels as they cause a quick spike in blood sugar, which can lead to an increase in cortisol. Finally, caffeine can increase cortisol levels as it is a stimulant that can cause an increase in stress hormones. It is important to limit your consumption of these foods in order to help keep cortisol levels low.
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