Whether you are a student, a stay at home mom or a working professional, stress seems to affect the lives of most of us. In fact, according to a 2021 study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, around 91% of Indian professionals experienced higher stress levels compared to a global average of 80%. While some amount of stress is unavoidable, you can always work to ensure that small lifestyle changes that can help reduce stress hormone levels and make you feel at ease.
“To eliminate excess hormones that continue to circulate in the body, fiber and water are crucial. Hormones are the last thing the body wants to process when you have intestinal and digestive problems. Increasing fiber and water will help flush out those extra hormones,” said Jinel Patel, dietitian at Apollo Spectra Mumbai.
Taking to Instagram, Kylie Ivanir, a dietitian, suggested six ways that can help reduce stress hormone levels. “It’s about small changes that lead to powerful results. And living with less stress will make you a happier human being,” she wrote as she listed ways to reduce stress.
Feed your good gut bacteria
Probiotic and prebiotic Food has been shown to help lower cortisol levels. Therefore, add fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, and kimchi to your diet. You should also include prebiotic foods like onion, garlic, leeks, asparagus, apples, and green bananas. All of this helps increase good gut bacteria, which helps reduce the stress response.
Dr Sanjay Kalra, Bharti Hospital, Karnal, mentioned that “the existence of the gut-brain axis reinforces the fact that diet is an important factor influencing stress. A diet rich in protein and fiber allows the growth of a friendly gut microbiota that produces serotonin, which helps to relieve stress.”
Have protein, fiber and fat.
Large swings in blood sugar trigger the release of stress hormones. Eating balanced meals helps control blood sugar levels and prevent stress hormone surges. Fill your plate with plenty of fiber, protein, and fat, and avoid foods high in sugar.
When you’re sleep deprived, your body goes into ‘flight or fight’ mode and releases cortisol. To make matters worse, on tired days, you can opt for more caffeine, which increases even more cortisol levels. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, or if that’s impossible, try to nap during the day. If you’re not good at napping, I recommend doing a 10-minute yoga nidra.
Manage your emotional stress
Chronic emotional stress is the number one cause of increased cortisol levels. by experimenting chronic emotional stress, your body can’t tell the difference between being chased by a tiger or a stressful deadline at work. For your body, stress is stress. Try to manage it by including some stress-reducing activity in your day, such as breathing exercises, gentle movement, journaling, or anything that makes your soul happy.
Avoid excessive exercise
Exercising is very healthy, but excessive exercise can cause cortisol spikes. By exercise too much, you may think you’re doing high-intensity exercise four or more days a week, but instead of helping you burn fat, it’s likely raising your cortisol and stressing your body. Try to incorporate gentler movements and avoid HIIT altogether during the premenstrual and menstrual weeks.
Limit your caffeine
Drinking too much coffee can promote cortisol spikes, especially on an empty stomach. So, if you love to have a hot drink in the morning, try swapping the matcha for coffee. is low in caffeine and it does not affect cortisol levels as much. If you like coffee too much, try adding collagen and nut milk to dampen cortisol release.
According to Dr. Kalra, limiting caffeine intake helps maintain autonomic hygiene, allows for restful sleep, and reduces stress levels.
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