Friday, November 26, 2010
Been researching Cortisol effects, since I started gaining fat around my belly disproportionately to other areas just in the last 4-5 years.
I'm certain I have a lot more stress in my life than I used to.
Here is a collection of tips I collected to naturally decreasing cortisol levels:
1. Eliminate caffeine. I drink A LOT of diet coke and iced tea. I'm told reducing my caffeine intake is the quickest way to reduce cortisol production and elevate the production of DHEA.
2. Get a good night's sleep. My sleep patterns have changed dramatically in the last 2-3 years. I wake up in the middle of the night alot and then again too early in the morning. The average 50 year old has nighttime cortisol levels more than 30 times higher than the average 30 year old. Had melatonin suggested to help. Also suggested, forced earlier bedtime(10:30 at the latest), no tv.
3. Exercise regularly to build muscle mass and increase brain output of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that reduce anxiety and depression. DHEA also accelerates the building of muscle mass and increases the feeling of being strong and energetic. I took DHEA a few years back and was in great shape. Might need to consider re-establishing this habit.
4. Eat at regular intervals and keep blood sugar stable. Avoid sugar. Avoid skipping meals. Eat frequent small meals balanced in protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats like olive oil and flax seed oil. Diets rich in complex carbohydrates keep cortisol levels lower than low carbohydrate diets. Keep well hydrated – dehydration puts the body in stress and raises cortisol levels. Keep pure water by your bed and drink it when you first wake up and before you go to sleep.
5. Take anti-stress supplements like B vitamins, minerals like calcium, magnesium, chromium and zinc, and antioxidants like vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid, grape seed extract, and Co Q 10. Adaptogen herbs like ginseng, astragalus, eleuthero, schizandra, rhodiola and ashwagandha help the body cope with the side effects of stress and rebalance the metabolism. These supplement and herbs will not only lower cortisol levels but they will also help you decrease the effects of stress on the body by boosting the immune system.
6. Relax more and use stress reduction techniques. Meditate, get a massage, take a hot bath, listen to relaxation tapes, use NLP, or lie still doing deep breathing for 10-15 minutes. Avoid stimulants like caffeine that promote beta waves while suppressing alpha and theta waves.
7. Do not overtrain (no more than 2 days in a row) and keep workouts under 1 hour. Training too hard can overtax the hormonal system and increase cortisol levels. This may be key as I seem to be an 'all or none' sort of person prone to overdoing it when I'm trying to be serious about weight loss.