6 Foods that Lower Cortisol

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 12/15/2023

6 Foods that Lower Cortisol

Picture this: You've had a long day, your stress levels are through the roof, and you're running on empty. But what if I told you there's a way to dial down that stress naturally?

That's right! Certain foods can help lower cortisol - your body’s primary stress hormone.

We all know eating well is critical to feeling good. But here we’re going beyond just feeling good...we're talking about mastering our hormones and reclaiming control over our bodies!

This post will be an eye-opener, revealing how food choices impact not only weight loss or gain but also mental health and daily energy levels.

If you’ve been searching for real-life solutions to tame that unruly beast called Stress… get ready because we'll take this journey together, discovering unique insights into the power of nutrition!

Understanding Cortisol and Its Role in Stress

Cortisol, often labeled as the body's primary stress hormone, is like a built-in alarm system. It works with certain parts of your brain to control mood, motivation, and fear. But it does more than manage stress.

Cortisol helps maintain various body processes, including balancing glucose levels and managing metabolic rates. Consider cortisol as nature’s built-in alarm clock that gets you up with the sun and helps keep your body on track throughout the day.

The Impact of Mental and Physical Stress on Cortisol Levels

Mental or physical stress can cause our bodies to go into 'fight or flight' mode, triggering an increase in adrenaline and cortisol production. This is akin to slamming down the gas pedal in a car - it speeds things up.

However, this response should be short-lived; once we've navigated away from danger (or stressful situations), our hormones should return to normal.

The Effects of Chronic Stress on Cortisol and Adrenaline

If we're constantly under pressure without relief, this balance may be thrown off, leading to chronically elevated cortisol levels – like keeping that gas pedal slammed down for too long.

This chronic stress condition has severe implications for our overall health because, over time, it affects other hormonal systems, including insulin regulation, immune function, and sleep patterns.

The Connection Between High Blood Sugar Levels and Cortisol

High blood sugar levels, often seen in conditions like diabetes, can play a significant role in disrupting the autonomic nervous system. This disruption has an unexpected domino effect on cortisol levels.

A key player in this complex chain is diabetic dysautonomia. But what exactly is that? Imagine it as a mischievous sprite sneaking into your body's control room (the autonomic nervous system) and randomly pushing all sorts of buttons.

This leads to unregulated bodily functions, including the production of cortisol - our primary stress hormone. It's like having someone turn up the volume knob of a speaker while you're trying to enjoy some calm music.

The Role Diabetic Dysautonomia Plays

Diabetic dysautonomia, caused by high blood sugar levels, confuses the normal operations of our automatic bodily processes such as heart rate and digestion. Its interference also affects how much cortisol we produce when stressed out.

Cortisol is essential for managing stress, but excessive amounts due to disrupted systems can lead us down an unhealthy path. Remember, folks: too much of anything isn't good.

Dietary Approaches to Lowering Cortisol Levels

Food can be a helpful instrument in controlling cortisol levels. Two methods stand out regarding dietary approaches: adopting a ketogenic diet and fasting.

The Ketogenic Diet and Cortisol Balance

A ketogenic diet, low in sugar and starch, might help you tame your body's stress response. This diet supports the autonomic nervous system by stabilizing blood sugar levels, which can then regulate cortisol.

Keto foods like avocados, eggs, nuts, or fish are rich in healthy fats but low in sugars. These ensure your body doesn't experience energy crashes that could spike up those pesky stress hormones.

Fasting as a Tool for Lowering Cortisol Levels

Did you know that not eating for specific periods could lower your cortisol? It sounds counterintuitive, but fasting has been shown to support the parasympathetic nervous system - the part responsible for rest and digestion - leading to decreased cortisol levels.

Of course, always consult with health professionals before drastically changing your eating habits. They'll guide you safely through these dietary strategies so high-cortisol days will become just a thing of the past.

Key Nutrients for Supporting the Autonomic Nervous System

When it comes to your autonomic nervous system, certain nutrients take center stage. These nutrients are like the superstars of a basketball game - they can be pivotal in determining the outcome.

The Role of B12 in Autonomic Nervous System Health

B12 is one such star player. This vitamin, found in foods like red meats, fish, and organ meats, is a powerhouse supporter of our autonomic nervous system. Red meat, fish, and organ meats are exceptionally high sources.

Choline and Its Impact on Stress and Cortisol Levels

Moving on from B12, we get Choline - another heavy hitter. Choline plays an essential part in making acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter that helps lower stress levels and cortisol. You'll find choline richly present within egg yolks and organ meats.

Essential Nutrients for Lowering Cortisol Levels

Vitamin B1, B5, potassium, and magnesium are important for aiding the parasympathetic nervous system to keep cortisol levels in check, especially magnesium, a soothing mineral that can help reduce stress.

These nutrients support the parasympathetic nervous system and manage cortisol levels. Magnesium, in particular, is a calming mineral that helps to reduce stress.

Vitamin D3 Supplementation for Cortisol Regulation

Adding Vitamin D3 supplements can also be beneficial. This vitamin helps regulate cortisol levels and combat stress, acting like a helpful coach guiding your body's team of hormones toward victory.

The Role of Probiotics in Lowering Cortisol Levels

Have you ever thought your gut could help you chill out? Well, probiotics may be the secret to taming that stress beast within. Research shows a fascinating link between these friendly bacteria and lower cortisol levels.

We're talking about yogurt, kefir, and kimchi – teeming with live cultures. But how does this work?

You see, our guts host a nerve named 'vagus' - no relation to Vegas. This vagus nerve acts as a communication superhighway between your brain and gut. Now, here's where probiotics strut their stuff. They boost the health of this superhighway, which helps regulate stress responses.

An intriguing study found that those who consumed probiotic yogurt for six weeks had notably lower stress levels than the control group. That's some mighty pudding.

Beyond food sources, though, supplementing with specific strains like Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175 can also ensure you get all hands on deck against elevated cortisol levels.

It’s been shown they offer promising results in reducing psychological distress.


We've uncovered the reality of cortisol and its association with tension. Now you know your mental and physical health impact these hormone levels.

We've explored how high blood sugar can disrupt your autonomic nervous system. But remember that foods that lower cortisol are a powerful tool for combatting this.

Dietary strategies like ketogenic diets or fasting can also help balance those pesky hormones. And don't forget about critical nutrients - B12, choline, Vitamin D3...they all play a vital part!

In essence, what you eat affects more than just weight loss or gain; it also influences mental health and daily energy levels.

Lastly, consider adding probiotics to your diet for even better results. This journey might seem daunting at first, but take one step at a time towards reclaiming control over stress!

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