Stress is a scourge still very present in the lives of the French, according to the figures of a study carried out by Opinion Way in 2017: 9 out of 10 people would suffer from the "evil of the century" in France. A true sneaky disease, chronic stress attacks the body by causing various mental, emotional or physical health disorders. Burnout, fatigue, sleep disorders, irritability, mood swings… The consequences of stress vary from person to person, but they are always the work of a well-known hormone: cortisol. Fortunately, there are a few simple gestures that can help you lower the pressure. Let's take stock of cortisol.
What exactly is cortisol?
It is a hormone produced by the adrenal cortical glands, located above the kidneys. Also called "stress hormone", cortisol plays an essential role for the proper functioning of the body, in its capacity as an activation hormone. It intervenes in particular to fight inflammation in cells, regulate blood pressure, promote bone growth, regulate macronutrient metabolism and especially regulate the body's response to stress.
Rising cortisol levels: when to react?
When cortisol is secreted in too large quantities by the adrenal glands, this is called hypercortisolism or Cushing's syndrome. But how can you tell if you are predisposed to stress and rising cortisol? Here are some signals that will surely put the chip in your ear:
- sleep disorder too common;
- frequent fatigue, even if the sleep is sufficient and of quality;
- weight gain, especially in the belly (even when playing sports and eating healthy);
- predisposition to colds and other associated diseases;
- unhealthy food cravings;
- back pain and headache;
- inhibition of libido;
- disorders of the digestive system;
- anxieties and depressions.
A healthy diet to reduce cortisol
You should know that the level of cortisol in the blood is highly dependent on blood sugar. As a result, a high-glycemic diet can lead to chronic stress. To reduce stress our slimming advice is that it is therefore better to avoid foods containing fast sugar, such as industrial cakes, sugary drinks and pastries. The same goes for foods that contain processed complex carbohydrates, such as industrial bread and white flour. In addition, it is also better to adopt a diet that stimulates the secretion of hormones that can inhibit the action of cortisol.
Foods rich in omega-3
Considered essential fatty acids, omega-3s have, among other virtues, the ability to reduce stress. They promote the secretion of endocannabinoids, molecules similar to cannabis, which could lower the psychological symptoms of stress. Some of the main foods containing omega-3s include fish, cod liver oil, nuts, rapeseed, and flaxseed oil.
In addition to omega-3s, green vegetables, such as spinach, also contain vitamin B, which stimulates dopamine production. Also called the "happiness hormone", dopamine intervenes to counteract the action of cortisol.
Dark chocolate is also very effective in overcoming stress. Indeed, it contains polyphenols, plant substances that can lower cortisol levels.
An anti-fatigue and anti-stress food, garlic contains a significant amount of vitamin C and vitamin B6, as well as calcium and magnesium. Eaten raw or cooked, it easily integrates into your diet to help you overcome stress.
Foods rich in prebiotic fiber
This dietary fiber is essential for the good health of the intestinal microbiota. Banana, leek, asparagus… Prebiotic foods promote the growth of gut bacteria that are essential for brain health.
Playing sports to reduce cortisol
Regular physical activity is effective in improving mental functions and protecting the brain from the actions of cortisol. In addition to the energy thus drawn and better relaxation, sport allows you to burn calories that will then be converted by the metabolism.
However, you don't need to sweat blood and water to drop your stress levels. Indeed, physical overinvestment will instead lead to an increase in cortisol levels, because the brain will interpret this effort as a critical situation.
Getting enough sleep to reduce cortisol
Lack of sleep is another factor responsible for the increase in cortisol. In addition to the harmful consequences of insufficient sleep, increased cortisol levels can also lead to weight gain. This is why it is essential to find a sufficient and quality sleep to reduce your cortisol level and thus avoid weight gain.
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