Nutrition for stress relief: 6 foods to naturally lower your cortisol levels | Health

Uncontrolled stress levels not only interrupt with daily functioning and productivity but also impact long-term health, putting one at risk of heart disease, diabetes and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. While some amount of stress is important to function well, in excess, it can damage body functions and lower immunity. Cortisol is an important hormone that regulates your body’s stress response, blood pressure, blood sugar and also your sleep-wake cycle. Too much stress can lead to excess cortisol production which can cause a range of health issues. (See pics: Expert tips to boost happy chemicals in the brain)

From Vitamin C to probiotics, here are foods to maintain healthy cortisol levels and beat stress (Freepik)

Creating a routine and structure can help manage emotions and keep stress at bay, lowering cortisol. There are also certain foods that can help bring down stress hormones, boosting well-being and moods.

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“Elevated cortisol levels, when prolonged, can weaken the immune system, promote weight gain, increase blood pressure, disrupt blood sugar levels, reduce bone density, and affect mental health, potentially leading to issues like anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. Maintaining balanced cortisol levels is crucial for overall health and well-being,” says Nutritionist Juhi Kapoor.


Here are some nutrients and their food sources as per Kapoor that may help regulate cortisol levels:

1. Vitamin C: A bowl of juicy and delicious citrus fruits loaded with Vitamin C like strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli can lower cortisol levels and relax your mind and body. Make sure to start your day with these nutrition-filled foods.

2. Omega-3 fatty acids: These important nutrients can ease mental stress considerably by soothing brain and central nervous system. It is present in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

3. Magnesium: High levels of physical or mental stress can lower magnesium levels in the body. Magnesium is an important mineral to manage stress response and cortisol levels. One must consume magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, almonds, cashews, and whole grains.

4. Zinc: It is effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and must be consumed regularly if you have chronic stress issues. It is found in oysters, beef, pumpkin seeds, and chickpeas.

5. Probiotics: Studies demonstrate that probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function apart from lowering stress and anxiety. They are present in yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

6. Complex carbohydrates: They are effective in balancing blood sugar levels and helps calm the stress response. They are found in whole grains like oats, quinoa, and brown rice.

If you constantly feel stressed, incorporating these nutrients into your daily diet may assist in managing your cortisol levels.

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