Written by Toronto Nutritionist Janet Zdichavsky CNP
Do you crave the double chocolate brownie when you are stressed? Well, your overeating during a stress period could be because of increased cortisol levels.
Cortisol, a steroid hormone, is also known as Stress hormone. It is an essential hormone that is produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress and its role is to increase blood sugar levels by converting it from protein, reduces inflammation and suppresses the non-essential functions in an emergency situation such as the immune system. It prepares the body to survive stress. However, excessive secretion of cortisol due to chronic stress leads to many side effects including weight gain, high blood pressure and cholesterol, fatigue, muscle wastage and bone loss. It is the high cortisol levels that cause you to crave the cheese puffs or chocolate in a stressful situation. Chronic stress and increase in cortisol levels can lead to an increase in body fat, especially in the abdominal region. So next time you feel stressed, reach for the following foods to lower your cortisol levels:
• Omega 3 rich foods
Omega 3 fatty acids keep cortisol levels balanced by boosting your mood. Omega 3 is also known to protect from heart disease. Foods rich in Omega 3 include Salmon, Tuna, Walnuts and Flax seeds.
• Complex Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are known to make you feel good as they prompt the brain to make serotonin. Complex carbohydrates are slowly digested and keep the blood sugar levels stable. Wholegrain cereals are one such type of complex carbohydrates.
Rich in potassium, eating Avocados reduces high blood pressure. It has more potassium than bananas and can quickly help in lowering blood pressure levels.
• Green Vegetables
Green vegetables high in magnesium such as Spinach help regulate levels of cortisol. Other vegetables such as Broccoli are vitamin and folic acid rich, which are required especially during times of stress.
• Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits such as Oranges are loaded with vitamin C, which is known to help in reducing the stress hormone levels and boost the immune system.
• Black Tea
Contrary to the effects of coffee, which increases cortisol levels, black tea helps in reducing stress.
Stress fighting foods such as listed above can help in keeping a balance in the levels of cortisol while replenishing the body’s vitamin and mineral reserves. If you are suffering from chronic stress, talk to your nutritionist to determine the best diet to get your health back on track.
Contact Janet Zdichavsky about how Stress Management can be accomplished through diet.