Do Everything in Your Power to Get Enough Sleep
A study on sleep deprivation demonstrated how cortisol levels dramatically increased the following two evenings after participants were deprived of sleep.
After normal sleep, plasma Cortisol levels over the 1800–2300-hour period were similar on days 1 and 2. After partial and total sleep deprivation, plasma Cortisol levels over the 1800–2300-hour period were higher on day 2 than on day 1 (37 and 45% increases, p = 0.03 and 0.003, respectively).
Take Some Eleuthero
Eleuthero, an adaptogen herb, has been shown to balance out cortisol levels. If they’re too high it lowers them, and if they’re too low it increases them.
According to Herbal Therapy and Supplements: A Scientific and Traditional Approach, Eleuthero increases resistance to stress, reduces the effects of excessive cortisol production and improves the feeling of well-being.
Get Your Vitamin C
The easiest way to get plenty of Vitamin C is by eating plenty of fresh fruits, especially citrus fruits.
In a study of athletes who raced in a 90km ultramarathon, those who supplemented with 1500mg of vitamin C had significantly lower increases of cortisol after the race than the control groups.
The top sources of vitamin C include sweet green or red peppers, acerolas, chives and coriander leaf.
More Plants Less Meat
Take this one from Dr. Greger, Founder of nutritionfacts.org. He explains how “a single meal high in animal protein can nearly double the level of stress hormones in the blood within a half hour of consumption.”
Get Enough Magnesium
After digging into the interactions of magnesium (Mg) and stress, a study out of UNC-Chapel Hill concluded:
Stress, whether physical (i.e. exertion, heat, cold, trauma–accidental or surgical, burns), or emotional (i.e. pain, anxiety, excitement or depression) and dyspnea as in asthma increases need for Mg.
A German study gave triathletes blood tests that showed lower cortisol levels before and after a triathlon when supplementing with magnesium orotate (a type of magnesium salt bound to orotic acid to make magnesium absorption more efficient).
The top sources of magnesium include rice bran, cottonseed meal or flour, basil, hemp seeds, coriander leaf, chives, and wheat bran.
In her book, Magnesium Miracle, Dr. Carolyn Dean explains how magnesium is commonly depleted:
Diets high in processed foods, magnesium-depleted soil, certain medication interactions, and fluoridated water, which renders magnesium unavailable to the body.
She claims that up to 80% of the population is magnesium deficient! She goes on to describe its use for preventing heart attacks:
I found that doctors have been prescribing magnesium for heart disease since the 1930s. A review of seven major clinical studies showed that IV magnesium reduced the odds of death by more than half in patients suffering acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).
PUFAs are polyunsaturated fats, and the two main types are Omega-3 and Omega-6. A paper published by Italian researchers explains how Omega-3 Fatty Acids positively affect our cortisol levels:
From a mechanistic point of view, it has been demonstrated that omega-3 PUFA inhibits the P-glycoprotein (P-GP) activity , which are transport proteins responsible for the increase in cortisol transport through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in depressive subjects [118–122]. The normalization of brain penetration of cortisol would normalize the feedback control of the HPA axis. Another study demonstrated a modulatory effect of omega-3 PUFA by increasing the cortisol transport in the BBB models, not through the inhibition of P-up efflux, but thanks to membrane fluidification and some effect on tight junction integrity .
A study on the effect of zinc on cortisol levels of medical students demonstrated an “acute inhibitory effect of zinc on cortisol secretion during 240 min of the study period in the experimental group.” The doses of zinc received by the experimental groups ranged from 25mg to 50mg.
Some great sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lamb, oysters, cashews, cocoa powder, fortified cereals, soybeans, squash seeds, crab, and lobster.
Ashwagandha is one of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs. In a review of five studies on Ashwagandha use for anxiety published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the authors explained that patients reported more improvements (significantly in most cases) on anxiety and stress scales than the placebo groups in all five studies. Three different scales were used to measure anxiety and stress levels. The review only mentions one study that measured cortisol levels. The study had 64 women participants over the course of 60 days taking a dose of 300mg twice per day in capsules with at least 5% withanolide content (the active ingredient in ashwagandha responsible for most of its health benefits).
An Expert Speaker on Wanderlust on Stress and Cortisol
Listening to Dr. Sara Gottfried is very inspirational. Her approach is scientific, personal, entertaining and very interesting. Check out her full talk at Wanderlust here:
Don’t Overdose on Stress Relief Either!
Now that you’re armed and ready to float away in a cloud, let’s consider the physiological purpose of stress. Sure, it’s usually considered beneficial for our health to lower stress, but at some point, you could “overdose” on the anti-stressors, just like anything else in nutrition. According to an article published by Dartmouth College, “in the realm of biology, stress refers to what happens when an organism fails to respond appropriately to threats.” So, it’s important to remember the goal of reducing cortisol levels is to respond appropriately to “threats” not to completely eliminate a response at all!
Here is a product you can use while enjoying the sun or on vacation, this is definitely one positive way of coping with stress. Experience the benefits of resting while in the sun with this useful product.