Tips to reduce your need for Cortisol aka Stress

Cortisol is a hormone most people have heard about, possibly you know at as the stress hormone, which is possibly not a fair description as Cortisol through the changes it makes in the body’s metabolism is actually trying to help you survive the ‘stress’

I like to think of Cortisol as the hormone that ensures extra available energy in the form of blood sugar / glucose so all cells can maintain the extra workload created by the ‘stress’

BTW the extra glucose is coming from the break-down of proteins in your skin, bone and muscle, ie. all the tissue the body deems non-essential when you have a ‘stress’ to neutralise.

Are you getting the picture?

The body is well equipped for short-term ‘stress’ with no permanent damage inflicted, but not so if the ‘stress’ becomes long-term and chronic where focus on building and repair is biochemically impossible leading to much more than thin skin, weak bones and muscle loss.

In fact, many of these symptoms are created by too much Cortisol, too long

  • weight gain, especially belly fat
  • high blood pressure
  • sleep problems
  • lack of energy
  • type 2 diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • thin skin
  • muscle weakness
  • brain fog
  • memory problems
  • frequent infections
  • and much more

Cortisol’s other job

Cortisol is also the body’s major anti-inflammatory, where inflammation will increase its production.

Inflammation has been coined as ‘the silent killer’ as it can be present inside the body without our conscious awareness.

The typical symptoms of inflammation are pain, heat, swelling, redness and reduced or loss of function.

Think about a sprained ankle and you will recognise all these symptoms. But if you have inflammation inside the body you will not be able to see if there is redness or swelling, you might not feel the pain or the heat and may not even be aware of the lost function at least not initially. That’s why it’s known as ‘the silent killer’. But your brain is aware of the inflammation and extra Cortisol will be produced. By the way the effects of Cortisol are not selective, ie. if inflammation is causing the increase in Cortisol production or you’re using Cortisol medication, such as hydrocortisone creams or pills, proteins will still be broken down.

The Solutions

Decrease the ‘stress’ – why do you need to make more energy? Stress can be physical

  • Number of working hours
  • When these working hours are – evening and night work is more energy demanding
  • How much and when you exercise
  • How much and when you sleep

The solutions

  • Maintain Cortisol’s optimal production-cycle as much as possible 6am – 6pm activity / 6pm – 6am rest
  • Manage your day – what can you do better?
  • Frequent breaks throughout the day, even power-naps
  • More rest after 6pm
  • Get ready for bed from 8pm – read my article about sleep here …..
  • In bed latest 10pm
  • Careful with excessive endurance training
  • Train hard for short duration
  • No training after 6pm
  • Feet above your head is a good position to reduce stress
  • Do Yin Yoga

Stress can be emotional

  • The habitual way you think
  • The habitual way you perceive
  • The habitual way you feel, where feelings of anxiousness and fear are very stressful.

The solutions

  • Tools to control / change the way you think, feel and perceive, such as NLP, EFT, cognitive training, meditation, mindfulness, keep a diary, etc
  • Don’t worry be happy.

Decrease inflammation

Follow an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle regime as much as possible. How you reduce inflammation is a combination of reducing/removing the actions, conditions, and foods that create inflammation and increase the actions and foods that decrease inflammation. Both are equally important Take the test and get a picture of your inflammation.

Reduce / Remove / Avoid

Pro-Inflammatory actions and conditions, such as

  • Unresolved injuries, such as joint and muscle pain or headaches
  • Chronic infections
  • Chronic allergies, to specific foods, such as gluten, milk and milk products, eggs, nuts, animal hair, etc.
  • Chronic gut problems – take the gut test …..
  • Unstable blood sugar – take the blood sugar test….
  • Excessive endurance training
  • Stress in its self will increase inflammation and impair the immune defence, especially in the gut
  • Obesity especially high visceral fat. Visceral fat produces inflammatory molecules, and is connected with an increased risk of CV problems, Type 2 diabetes, poor liver function and more. Test your waist size here.

Pro-inflammatory foods

  • Sugar especially foods and drinks with added sugars and artificial sweeteners
  • Omega 6 fatty acids, ie. plant oils and margarines, and processed foods that use these oils and margarines
  • Gluten, ie in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, Graham flours and their products
  • Anti-nutrients, such as lectins, phytates, oxalates in greens, pulses, grains, seeds and nuts, etc. 

Increase / Add

Anti-inflammatory actions

  • Maintain a stable blood sugar
  • Follow Cortisols cycle as closely as possible – 6am – 6pm activity / 6pm – 6am resting
  • A good night’s sleep from 10pm
  • Go for a walk every day
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Acupuncture type ’dry needling’ is excellent for muscle and joint problems

Anti-inflammatory foods
Eating the following foods has been shown to reduce inflammation

Organ meats
Liver, kidney, etc contain more nutrients per gram weight than any other foods and no antinutrients

Bone Broth
Contains many anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as collagen and the amino acids glycine and arginine

High fat fruits
Avocado and olives

Healthy fats
Olive oil, coconut oil and organic butter

Oily fish
Salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and anchovies, but due to breeding methods, toxic metals, plastics, etc their fats can be less healthy even increase inflammation. The amount of EPA in the ’farmed’ fish is often low increasing the need to supplement with fish oils.

Sulphur foods

Sea vegetables
Seaweed and kelp

Herbal teas
Rosemary, Thyme, Sage

Deeply coloured fruits
Berries, papaya, mango, etc., as juice or smoothies – see some recipes here.

Avoid pro-inflammatory foods

Consuming high amounts of the following has been clinically proven to increase inflammation

Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup and processed starches, such as breads and pasta

Vegetable and seed oils and margarines, such as Soya, Cotton Seed, Corn, Sunflower, etc. contain high levels of Omega 6 fats and trans-fats. Omega 6 fats are responsible for creating inflammation

Meat, processed meats and fats from commercially raised animals

Excessive intake of alcohol, more than 2 units per day Careful with the exaggerated intake of the following foods as they contain antinutrients and Omega 6 fatty acids known to increase inflammation and oxidative stress and create gut problems

Broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc., should be cooked to reduce the antinutrients – read more about antinutrients here

Nuts and nut butters, soak the nuts before consuming to reduce the antinutrients – read more about antinutrients

Especially those with gluten, such as wheat, barley and rye – read more about antinutrients here

Chick peas, soy beans and other beans, lentils, etc., must be soaked and boiled before consuming to reduce the antinutrients – read more about antinutrients

Anti-inflammatory supplements

The following supplements are especially good for decreasing inflammation, oxidative stress and symptoms  

Fish oil/Vegan oil contains EPA fatty acids, which reduce inflammation.

I recommend EQ Pure Artic Oil or Pure Vegan Oil

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  • Order Pure Artic or Pure Vegan Oil

Can also be bought with a blood test that measures the ratio between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids, where omega 6 creates inflammation and omega 3 decreases it

EQ oil also contains large amounts of DHA fatty acid which also works as an anti-inflammatory and is especially important for the brain, eye and cell membranes.

Broccolox is a supplement of broccoli sprouts which contain the sulphur molecule sulforaphane, which increases the production of glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants. Important when choosing a product with sulforaphane is that it contains whole, raw broccoli sprouts because sulforaphane is produced in the body from the broccoli sprouts.

Alpha Lipoic Acid is a fatty acid, which the body makes and is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecule.

Resveratrol is an antioxidant type molecule found in red wine, the skins of red grapes and peanuts

Dolorox contains plant extracts that reduce pain especially when combined with fish oils

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