Using nutrition to keep cortisol at bay

Using nutrition to keep cortisol at bay

by Teo Kai Wen 23 Feb 2020

High levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, are associated with a whole host of negative effects, ranging from suppressed immunity to hypertension and diabetes. Fortunately, getting one’s cortisol levels under a control can be achieved by making a few simple tweaks to one’s nutritional habits!


1. Avoid trans fat
Trans fat not only increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, but also have been shown to raise cortisol levels. Cut trans fats from your diet by opting for whole foods instead and avoiding processed junk food.


2. Eat more fruit, but drink less juice
Fruit juice is high in sugar, but doesn’t contain the same beneficial fibre you would ingest from eating the fruit itself. In fact, drinking fruit juice in excess is associated with increased diabetes risk and poor metabolic health, which can lead to an increase in cortisol levels. Eat some fruit instead!


3. Avoid foods you’re sensitive to

A food sensitivity (which differs from an allergic response) is when you have a negative immune response to eating a certain food, causing elevated cortisol levels. Since the response it elicits is usually milder than that of an allergic response, it’s much easier to ignore it.


4. Avoid fat-free flavoured yoghurts
High-quality regular yoghurt contains live probiotic bacteria that can lower cortisol, but fat-free and low-fat flavoured yoghurts are chock-full of sugar or artificial sweeteners, fake flavourings and dyes. Since they undergo extensive processing, they’re also unlikely to contain any live probiotic bacteria.


5. Cut down on caffeine
It’s possible to consume caffeine and have healthy cortisol levels, but it’s often the case that people affected by their high-stress lives stand to benefit from lowering or cutting out their caffeine intake. This is because caffeine induces large spikes in cortisol, which can last throughout the day. Keep your daily coffee intake to about four cups a day.


Being conscious of what you put into your body can only benefit you in the long run. If you’ve been feeling stressed or anxious as of late, perhaps it’s time to take that first step forward in the right direction.