21 Aug Reducing stress levels through supplementation
Life is stressful, there’s no doubt about it. While some people may be better at handling stress than others, stress can affect us all in a negative way, no matter what you are going through. Elevated stress levels can lead to an imbalance of cortisol – also known as a stress hormone.
Cortisol is the hormone that kicks in when you have to deal with a sudden emergency, along with its close cousin, adrenaline. However, cortisol levels that are continuously elevated can lead to several health issues as this hormone is only needed in small doses by the body.
A continuously elevated cortisol level can lead to the development of what is known as chronic stress syndrome. This can result in a myriad of mental and physical health issues, including anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, disordered thinking and concentration, reproductive problems, heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
The good news is that stress can be controlled, and ideally, this can be done from the inside, out! There are a range of natural aids to manage stress and cortisol levels that can be added as supplements to the diet:
More commonly known as Ashwagandha, this herb is part of the Solanaceae or nightshade family and is found throughout India, Nepal, China and Yemen. This herb is also part of the herb group known as adaptogens, which, as the name suggests, help to manage stress and its symptoms.
Ashwagandha has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries as a natural remedy for anxiety, and according to studies, its supplementation can lower cortisol levels by 30%.
This herb also falls into the family of adaptogens and is known as Golden or Arctic Root. Traditionally used throughout Chinese medicine, this supplement is recognised for its energising properties, increasing stamina, reducing stress and fatigue levels.
Studies have shown that this herb is effective in managing levels of depression while offering the same uplifting effects of caffeine, without the burnout.
While this supplement is more commonly known for its memory boosting effects, it is less well-known for its stress-relieving benefits. Studies have shown that regular consumption of this herb can help to lower blood pressure and the symptoms associated with stress.
Bacopa falls into the adaptogen category of herbs and is also traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine. Along with this, it also acts as a nootropic, in that it helps to boost mental performance. Research studies have shown that this supplement helps to manage cortisol levels, boost your mood, enhance mental capability, fight off insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Already a relatively popular compound, curcumin can be found in abundance in the spice turmeric. This compound works to stabilise cortisol levels, treat mental stress associated with depression and anxiety and protect against disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
Additionally, turmeric is an excellent herb to incorporate into your diet to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
It’s no secret by now – fish oil is a popular supplement far and wide because of its omega-3 fatty acid compounds and its myriad of benefits on the body and brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for cognitive function, memory function, boosting your mood and concentration. Omega-3’s also help to manage cortisol levels by reducing your body’s response to stress.
Not to be mistaken with probiotics, these compounds work to help out the good bacteria that is prolific throughout your gut. Prebiotics are essentially insoluble fibres which cannot be digested by your body, but, in turn, serve to help the immune system and lower your risk of developing diseases. Prebiotics also work to lower levels of cortisol and fend off the symptoms of stress.
While there are numerous ways to manage your stress levels, concentrating on the internal effects of stress is one of the most effective. Keeping cortisol levels in-check can help to manage stress in the long-term, and not just in the moment.