Simple Tips to Balance Cortisol Levels and Lose Belly Fat, Regulate Hormones, and Gain Overall Health
I will never forget how I was introduced to the stress hormone, cortisol and its ultimate connection to weight loss. I was a radio show guest of the late, great Dr. Atkins on WOR in New York City. It was in the early 1990s. The segment before my interview was devoted to “open lines” and a caller asked Dr. Atkins the secret to anti-aging.
His answer was simple: proper balance for cortisol levels
What a revelation! Especially because nobody in those days was talking about how to balance cortisol levels, let alone its link to slowing down the aging process or otherwise.
On that long ago radio show, Dr. Atkins explained that when the stress hormone cortisol went up, all the key anti-aging hormones went down. He spoke about long term consequences of out-of-control cortisol levels which included chronic high blood pressure, memory changes, depression, insomnia, “diabesity,” and of course abdominal fat.
In contrast, extremely low cortisol levels were associated with thinning skin, brittle bones, and fibromyalgia.
Several years later, I integrated the cortisol connection to the fat storage aspect in The Fat Flush Plan. Many of you may remember how abdominal fat has four times the amount of cortisol receptors than any other fat cells and so is a telltale sign of cortisol imbalances that your body can’t hide.
What I know now is that maintaining in balance cortisol levels that are not too high and not too low is truly a lifetime balancing act.
When cortisol is behaving itself, it is truly your BFF hormone. It gives you that get up and go and provides you with an energetic surge in emergency situations whether you are emotionally upset or physically challenged.
The best way to know if you have out of balance cortisol levels is via a four sample adrenal stress hormone test. (The adrenals produce cortisol.) After I took my test, I learned I was too low in the AM and too high before bed, which undoubtedly contributed to my frequent nocturnal awakenings. I now take the Adrenal Formula in the AM and wind down at night (three hours before bed) by taking an adaptogen like phosphorylated serine or ashwaganda.
What can you do? Here are my tips to balance cortisol levels and tame the stress hormone monster once and for all:
1. Shake MORE Salt: Yes, you heard that right. Most of us are sodium deficient and the right type of salt (I like Celtic Sea Salt) can support adrenal function and balance elevated or depleted cortisol levels. I would recommend at least 1/4 tsp in warm water first thing in the morng. Gargle with this and then swallow as the salt is anti-bacterial to your mucus membranes.
Take a blood test to actually measure your serum sodium so you can better take care of your body’s sodium needs. Without sodium, muscles become stiff and hardened. Without sodium, we all become like stone. Sodium relaxes soft tissue and is incredibly important when you are under stress. Naturally, I keep my sodium in balance with plenty of potassium rich veggies, fruits, and cream of tartar in my smoothies.
2. Walk AWAY Stress: Any type of movement with deep breathing is a terrific combo to beat stress. I personally adore brisk walking or jumping on my trampoline to get my lymph flowing and thoughts in order. At least 20 minutes a day of consistent movement and frequent breaks from that computer are in order here.
3. Take Supplements to Relieve Tension: The very best dietary supplement of all is magnesium which acts like a tranquilizer in a bottle. I am very fond of Mag-Key, a magnesium supplement which targets muscle tension and your heart especially. I use up to 800 mg per day – sometimes more! You can also up your Super EPA fish oil supplement to 4,000 mg per day when under stress and consider some natural passion flower or valerian before bed. A good friend just turned me on to Rescue Remedy in little candy-like lozenges. Rescue Remedy is a Bach Flower Remedy that I have taken for years when I need to cope with bad news.
All in all, stress is inevitable. But it need not take its toll on your body. You can bring down stress permanently and balance cortisol levels by nourishing your body, mind, and spirit.