Today I’m going to quickly discuss the best food to eat, to lower stress levels… And don’t worry, it’s a yummy food that we all like.
If you didn’t know, cortisol is a stress hormone. High levels of it are linked to numerous health problems, such as:
- Poor blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
- Negative hormonal changes, such as lowering of testosterone and other “sex” hormones.
- Negative feelings and moods – such as anger, frustration, being short-fused, tired, moody, sad, hopeless, and just not feeling happy or excited about life or much of anything
- Poor sleep – which is then linked to all sorts of negative health problems
- Poor blood pressure
- Muscle loss and fat gain, especially belly fat
Ironically though, you NEED cortisol to live.
So, the goal is NOT to have zero or even “low” cortisol levels… The real problem is chronically elevated cortisol levels… Sadly, most of us have due to modern society.
#1 Food For Lowering Cortisol
Okay, so here it goes – it’s carbohydrates! Yup, carbs are great at lowering cortisol.
And I’ve seen this over and over again with people on low-carb diets or keto diets or carnivore diets.
Or people who fast, including intermittent fasting. They tend to have elevated cortisol levels.
They do say “I have more energy” and one reason is because of higher adrenal production and thus, higher cortisol levels.
Cortisol is called the stress hormone, and one reason for this is because of the “fight or flight” mechanism.
Cortisol gets you READY for “battle” or “stressful situations”. It helps make you more capable of facing any potentially stressful or threatening situation.
In the old days, this may have been some animal attacking you for example.
But these days, it’s just modern life that’s causing chronic stress. Too much, too often, too long.
Again, elevated cortisol is good when you need it, in small amounts, in specific, short-term situations… but not all day long.
Cortisol And Blood Sugar Levels
One of the functions of cortisol is to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
When your blood sugar drops… such as low carb diets, dieting, or similar situations… cortisol gets released to help increase your blood sugar back up to a normal range – regardless of eating anything or what you eat.
Blood sugar drops and if you don’t eat something to increase it again, your body will release cortisol to increase it internally.
This is why being on any type of low-carb diet, tends to cause higher cortisol levels for most people.
And, if you are already living a stressful life… or are dealing with extra stress… or you have the type of personality that gets stressed or anxious more quickly than someone else, then you should consider eating more carbs.
Of course, a super high carb diet isn’t good either, especially if it’s simple, fast-digesting carbs since the blood sugar goes up quickly and then drops quickly, and then now you’re going to cause an increase in cortisol levels again to raise your blood sugar.
So, What Is The Answer?
What has worked for myself and my clients over the past decade is to go ahead and eat carbs. And more precisely, have carbs at specific times of the day, based on your goals and stress levels.
For example, if you exercise … you’ll have elevated cortisol levels after your workout. Which is normal. It gives you energy.
However, AFTER the workout we want to lower the cortisol. So, eating carbs after you exercise is an ideal time.
Or at the end of the day, when you want to calm your body down and get ready for bed slowly… This is a great time to have carbohydrates.
It’ll help lower your cortisol, increase serotonin and allow melatonin, your sleep hormone, to get released.
One thing to know is that if you have high cortisol, you’ll have low melatonin levels, and thus, why so many of us have a hard time sleeping.
So, the two best times to eat carbs are after exercise and at the end of the day.
Of course, you can go ahead and still eat carbs the rest of the day, but have lower amounts … For example, in the morning or before exercise. Have carbs, but less.
And this does NOT mean sugary cereal, donuts, juice, or similar simple carbs that’ll shoot up your blood sugar.
What Type Of Carbs Is The Best?
Stick to complex carbs, lower glycemic or load carbs – such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, yams, and whole grains.
No juices or junky processed carbs.
Remember, we want balanced blood sugar levels – not high or low.
Give this a try, especially during times of extra stress or if you’re not sleeping well, and let me know how it works for you.
If you want healthy cortisol and blood sugar levels, make sure you take a look at additional resources, videos, and solutions.