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  • Writer's pictureKatie Bailey, MS, RD, LD, FNC

Nutrients To Improve Stress - Cortisol

Updated: Dec 31

Hi, everyone. Welcome back. Stress is a natural reaction that we all experience from time to time. An acute stress response is actually beneficial for us as it helps us to deal with the situation at hand by releasing hormones that prepare the body for us to react very quickly.

This is called our fight-or-flight response. The problem arises when our stress levels stay elevated for longer than necessary, and this leads to chronic stress. This chronic stress can really affect our digestive system.

It can weaken our immune system and put us at higher risk for things like diabetes, stroke, and heart attacks.

So in today's video, we're going to discuss stress and the stress response, the importance of managing your stress, and which nutrients could be beneficial to help you deal with stress better.

Understanding Cortisol

Hi, I'm Katie Bailey. I'm a registered dietitian at Flusso Nutrients where we provide supplement education and professional quality supplement options for you to make the world of nutrition supplements a little bit easier to navigate.

As always, make sure that you check with your main nutrition-literate healthcare provider before starting anything new. As we can't know your full medical history to provide you with a personal recommendation. So without further ado, let's jump into today's topic.

I'm sure many of you have heard of our stress hormone cortisol. So cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands and released.

When our body is experiencing a stressful situation, it helps to increase our heart rate, our blood pressure, and our energy supply, which is a natural and very vital response.

When cortisol levels remain high for a prolonged period of time, that's when the stress response can really negatively impact our health. Cortisol is also involved in our immune response, inflammation control regulation of our metabolism, and can also influence our circadian rhythm.

So as you can see, cortisol is very important to our health, but like many things in the body, balance is key.

Balancing cortisol levels is important because it helps to keep our body's response to stress in check so that we can function at our best. We need to ensure that cortisol production isn't too high or too low.

The Importance of Balanced Cortisol Levels

Managing cortisol doesn't mean eliminating it from the body because remember, cortisol is important for proper functioning. It just means that you want to keep your cortisol levels in a healthy range.

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So, managing cortisol levels can reduce stress levels because high cortisol levels are associated with chronic stress, it can help improve your sleep, like, we talked about before, cortisol influences our circadian rhythm, and it can also help to improve your immune system because high cortisol levels can suppress your immune system.

So a balanced cortisol level helps your body to appropriately respond to stress and can promote overall health. If you're interested in getting your cortisol levels tracked to determine if they're in a healthy range, I will link a cortisol test below.

Managing cortisol levels can be achieved through a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques. It may also involve the use of things like a cortisol blocker or other supplements.

Natural Ways to Manage Cortisol

Cortisol blockers are designed to help reduce high levels of cortisol in the body. There are also certain foods that can help lower cortisol levels, things like dark chocolate or green or black tea.

Dark chocolate, for instance, contains flavonoids, which have been shown to decrease cortisol levels. And tea has Theanine, which is an amino acid that has been shown to decrease cortisol levels.

Remember, while these foods may be beneficial in helping to manage cortisol levels, they should be part of a balanced diet and not a replacement for other stress management techniques.

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Now, there are certain nutrients in herbs that can play a vital role in stress reduction in cortisol management. The first one is vitamin C and B vitamins, which are both very essential for adrenal function and can help you cope with stress.

The second is magnesium, and magnesium is a mineral that helps to relax our nerves and our muscles reducing the feelings of stress.

Omega fatty acids also have been shown to reduce cortisol levels and reduce symptoms of anxiety. Lastly, herbs like ashwagandha, rhodiola, and holy basil.

These are considered adaptogens, which are herbs that can help our body deal with stress better and promote a sense of calm.

Remember, while these herbs can be beneficial for helping to reduce our stress levels, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting anything new because we want to make sure that the herbs are not going to interact with any medications or other supplements that you're taking.

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Conclusion and Recommendations

So to wrap up our topic for today, cortisol plays a vital role in our body's response to stress. However, too much cortisol or too little cortisol over a prolonged period of time can lead to a variety of health issues.

Therefore, through a balanced diet that is rich in food, high in vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium and omega 3s, adequate sleep, exercise regularly, and also including supplements that have ashwagandha, rhodiola, or holy basil, can help promote a healthy stress level.

I've linked a quality adaptogen supplement below if you're interested in trying this in your routine. If you like this video, please hit the like button and subscribe for more nutrition videos. Thanks for watching. I'll see you next time.

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