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Cortisol: The Hormone That Keeps You Energised and Healthy All Day Long

Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced and released by the adrenal glands, the endocrine glands located above the kidneys.

Cortisol: The hormone that keeps you energized and healthy all day long

Have you ever found yourself mindlessly eating late at night, despite not feeling truly hungry? It may not be hunger, but a stress response triggered by a hormone called cortisol. This common phenomenon may not be satisfying hunger at all, but rather a hidden stress response triggered by a hormone called cortisol.

Cortisol, often called the “stress hormone,” plays a crucial role in our body’s fight-or-flight response, and increases during stressful situations. But what many may not know is its important influence on alertness. The increase in cortisol levels in the morning allows us to start the day naturally, feeling energized and prepared to tackle the day’s tasks. Conversely, a slow rise in cortisol can lead to low cortisol levels, apathy, and difficulty waking up.

This is where things get interesting. Food intolerances can reduce cortisol levels and cause drowsiness. This is distinct from drowsiness caused by serotonin, a brain chemical associated with relaxation and comfort food cravings.

What are the signs that could indicate low cortisol levels?

  • Those who get up late
  • People prone to developing keloid scars (raised, thickened scars)
  • Those with greater empathy
  • People who experience worsening of dark circles around the eyes after consuming intolerant foods.

It is possible that all of them are experiencing the effects of low cortisol levels.

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Now, back to late night cravings. To combat drowsiness and stay up late, some people resort to frequent snacking between meals. However, the logic behind this is not as simple as it seems. Eating between meals stimulates a small release of cortisol to aid digestion, providing a temporary increase in alertness. But there’s a catch to this behavior: It can lead to unwanted weight gain over time.

This is where we can break the cycle and choose a healthier alternative. Skip the late-night snacks and opt for a cup of green tea. Green tea has a significantly lower caffeine content than coffee, about a third less.

This allows for a sustained increase in energy over a longer period of time, helping you stay focused without the jittery side effects often associated with coffee. Plus, green tea is calorie-friendly and affordable, making it a win-win option for your health and your wallet.

However, a word of warning before you stock up on green tea:

  • Iron deficiency: If you have low iron levels, be aware that green tea can further deplete your iron stores. To counteract this, incorporate beetroot and pomegranate into your regular diet. These foods are rich in iron and can help maintain healthy levels.
  • Green tea quality: Many supermarket brands marketed as green tea contain fillers and additives. Opt for pure green tea leaves to reap the full benefits of this natural beverage.

By understanding the link between stress, cortisol, and late-night cravings, we can make informed decisions to break unhealthy habits. So, next time you find yourself craving a late-night snack, consider having a cup of green tea. It might just be the healthiest and most sustainable way to stay alert and focused.

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(Contributions from Saravanan Balakrishnan, Founder and CEO of Health (amura.ai))

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