Are you stressed and holding onto belly fat? Cortisol may be to blame.
What is cortisol?
Some have called it the “master” of all hormones. Others curse it for its ability to wreak havoc on our body’s fragile endocrine balance. In spite of the mixed opinions one thing is certain: cortisol is a powerful hormone necessary for life. But if its level is not optimal in your body, your health could suffer.
The hormone cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands and is primarily responsible for regulating blood sugar, helping to metabolize fats, protein and carbohydrates and assisting in managing our stress response.
We all have times of stress in our lives, and cortisol helps us to function during these times. When the stress goes up, cortisol kicks in and delivers help. Short term cortisol benefits: We get a quick burst of energy, our memory sharpens, our immunity increases, and our sensitivity to pain decreases.
These are all important and natural functions of cortisol and ensure that we are able to weather the curve balls that life throws at us.
However, if the stress doesn’t let up, neither does the cortisol. Unfortunately, what is healthy in small bursts becomes dangerous over the long term.
If you have persistent stress in your life, then you have cortisol levels that are out of balance: your body makes so much cortisol that it detrimentally affects your health. This leads to adrenal fatigue.
When you have prolonged, high levels of cortisol in your bloodstream
you will crave foods that are high in carbs (like cake and cookies),
you will gain weight in your abdominal area (which increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes), and
you will have trouble sleeping
How do you lower your cortisol?
Reduce stress. Easier said than done, I know. But many times our stress levels are correlated to our response to stressful situations. Learning how to cope with stress more effectively may be all it takes to balance your cortisol.
Be consistent. Going to bed and getting at the same time each day will help to regulate your circadian rhythm. Practice this habit to slowly coax your body into a schedule.
Use bright lights wisely. Since your circadian rhythm is partially controlled by light, darken your room well when you go to bed, and flood it with light when it is time to get up. Try using a full spectrum light in the mornings.
Eat most of your calories early. If you can eat the bulk of your daily calories earlier in the day as opposed to later in the day, you may find that you can re-calibrate your hormone levels easier.
Consider hormone aiding supplements like holy basil and ashwanga
Cut your workouts down. Working out increases cortisol production when done for too long. Limit your workout to 45 minutes when under high amounts of stress
Check out these 5 foods which are proven to reduce cortisol levels:
With this information you can see the importance of keeping stress levels low. It can greatly benefit us to stay relaxed mentally and also physically. Do your stretches and deep breathing and when you feel yourself over stressed, take a chill pill.
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I hope this helps you!
Best wishes, Leah Peters