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Think of cortisol as nature’s built-in alarm system. It’s your body’s primary stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear.

Your adrenal glands — triangle-shaped organs at the top of your kidneys — make cortisol.

How Does It Work?

Your hypothalamus and pituitary gland — located in your brain — can sense if your blood contains the right cortisol level. If the level is too low, your brain adjusts the amount of hormones it makes. Your adrenal glands pick up on these signals. Then, they fine-tune the amount of cortisol they release.

In most cells in your body, Cortisol receptors receive and use the hormone differently. Your needs will differ from day to day. For instance, when your body is on high alert, cortisol can alter or shut down functions that get in the way. These might include your digestive or reproductive systems, immune systems, or growth processes.

Sometimes, your cortisol levels can get out of whack.

Too Much Stress

Your cortisol level should calm down after the pressure or danger has passed. Your heart, blood pressure, and other body systems will return normal.

But what if you’re under constant stress and the alarm button stays on?

  • Try to eat at regular times and do not skip meals
  • Eat within 60 minutes of getting out of bed in the morning
  • Eat lean sources of protein at each meal, for example, chicken, fish, eggs and legumes; avoid processed foods and red meat
  • Avoid/reduce your intake of sugary and refined foods; avoid sugary foods like soft drinks, especially ones that
    contain aspartame
  • Eat high-fibre foods; for example, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and good water sources, soluble fibres such
    as pears, oat bran and apples
  • Eat foods rich in “good” fats; for example, oily fish such as herring, pilchards, sardines, mackerel, salmon, trout and
    fresh tuna; nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios; seeds such as flaxseed,
    linseeds, hemp and avocados; foods fortified with omega 3’s
    Use healthy oils or fat spread made from vegetables or seeds such as those made from flaxseed, olive, and avocado (exclude those made with hydrogenated or trans fats)
  • Keep hydrated, limit alcohol intake and drink plenty of water; drink about 6 to 8 glasses (1.2 litres) of water or other fluids (non-caffeinated) a day to stop dehydrating. Try to limit the amount of caffeine that you have each day or avoid it after 3 pm
  • Exercise regularly; aim to be physically active, engaging in low to moderate activity every day for 30?60 minutes
    each day; any activity is better than none. Engage in stress? reducing activities such as yoga, Pilates, meditation
    and mindfulness
  • If you are overweight, then try and lose weight until you reach an optimum body mass index
    If possible, try and keep regular sleeping hours, set a regular bedtime schedule and get adequate sleep (6 to 9
    hours a night)
  • We recommend you stop smoking

If you are keen to find out more about how to reduce cortisol holistically or if you’d like to book a complimentary call to discuss which approach to weight loss would best suit you, please do get in touch.