You’ve no doubt heard of cortisol before. The stress hormone that’s responsible for our fight-or-flight response. Your adrenal gland pumps out cortisol when you’re feeling stressed, and your body believes you’re in danger.
But what you might not know is this same enzyme could also be the culprit behind your growing belly.
Cortisol was super helpful back when our ancient ancestors faced life and death situations in their daily lives. For example, if you had to face down a hungry bear when you were out hunting for dinner a surge of cortisol sure came in handy.
But these days our stress typically comes from reasons that are more mundane. The riskiest situation most of us face on a regular basis is rush-hour traffic or a deadline at work.
The trouble is our bodies don’t know the difference between the bear and that highway backup, so they still respond by producing cortisol. And since these days, many of us live our lives with a nearly constant low level of stress that means we’re also swimming in cortisol.
For proof, you don’t need to look any further than our ballooning bellies.
High cortisol hurts your brain AND builds belly fat
Chronically high cortisol levels can affect your thinking, suppress your thyroid and build up belly fat around your middle. But, lucky for us, nature has provided a safe solution for naturally lowering cortisol.
According to researchers, vitamin C can send your cortisol levels plummeting.
In an animal study, rats were placed in stressful situations for an hour a day for three weeks to raise their cortisol levels. Researchers then gave the wigged out rodents 200 milligrams of vitamin C. And much to everyone’s surprise, there were significant drops in their stress and cortisol levels. 1
In fact, the unlucky rodents which got the placebo had three times the stress level of the rats that got the vitamin. Plus the vitamin-fed rats didn’t display any of the common signs of physical and mental stress that you’d expect.
Other animal studies have found similar results, with vitamin C suppressing sleep-deprivation produced cortisol in rodents, for example.2
Keep calm and carry on with vitamin C
But vitamin C doesn’t just lower stress in animals, it works for humans too.
German researchers caused a group of volunteer’s stress levels to skyrocket by having them perform a task that would stress most of us out too… public speaking combined with solving math problems (yikes!).
Half of the study participants were then given a 1000 mg vitamin C supplement. When the scientists compared the two groups they found that the vitamin C group had a significantly lower stress response. The vitamin-C takers had lower levels of cortisol and lower blood pressure. And just as importantly, they reported they felt less stressed too.3
Over the long term, vitamin C may be able to help you keep a lid on your stress response. And with lower cortisol levels, and less stress-inducing eating too, losing weight and shedding belly fat could soon follow.
Bust belly fat and stress with vitamin C
Want to put the vitamin C effect to work for you? While oranges are a good source for the vitamin, there are other—sometimes even better—sources of C that you can start eating more of too.
Following are 12 delicious, choices to get you started…
- Black Currants: 1 cup, 202.7 mg, 338% DV
- Red bell pepper: 1 cup, 190 mg, 316% DV
- Brussels sprouts: 1 cup, 96.7 mg, 161% DV
- Papaya: 1 cup, 86.5 mg, 146% DV
- Strawberries: 1 cup, 84.7 mg, 141% DV
- Grapefruit: 1 cup, 79.1 mg, 132% DV
- Pineapple: 1 cup, 78.9 mg, 131% DV
- Kiwi: 1 medium, 64 mg, 107% DV
- Green bell pepper: 1 small, 59.5 mg, 99% DV
- . Kale: 1 cup (cooked), 53.3 mg, 89% DV
- Broccoli: ½ cup cooked, 50.6 mg, 84% DV
- Bok Choy: 1 cup (cooked), 44.2 mg, 74% DV
You may also want to consider taking a vitamin C supplement, too.
Put the power of cortisol-lowering vitamin C to work for you. Eating more vitamin C rich foods may lead to less of you as you lose the belly fat.
1. American Chemical Society. “Scientists Say Vitamin C May Alleviate The Body’s Response To Stress.” ScienceDaily. sciencedaily.com (accessed October 14, 2016)
2. “Vitamin C Prevents Sleep Deprivation-induced Elevation in Cortisol and Lipid Peroxidation in the Rat Plasma,” Niger J Physiol Sci. 2015 Dec 20;30(1-2):5-9
3, “A randomized controlled trial of high dose ascorbic acid for reduction of blood pressure, cortisol, and subjective responses to psychological stress.” Psychopharmacology (Berl). 159, 319-324
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