Cortisol and Weight Gain: What’s the Connection?

Cortisol and Weight Gain: What’s the Connection?

If you’re feeling tired, can’t concentrate, or just can’t seem to lose that pesky belly fat, you may want to check your cortisol levels.

Cortisol is a hormone that is key to the body’s stress response. While a little cortisol is beneficial—even essential—as a motivator and energy booster, too much of it can be detrimental to your health. 

Keep reading to learn more about the relationship between cortisol and weight gain, so you can better manage your weight and have a healthier lifestyle.

What is Cortisol?

Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones the body releases when faced with a stressor.

Back in the days of hunter-gatherers, these stressors typically consisted of wild animals and other similar dangers. Cortisol would give a boost of speed, focus, and strength to help overcome these dangers. This is what we know as our fight-or-flight response.

What Causes Abnormal Cortisol Levels

In modern times, the body reacts in the same way to the consistent barrage of stressors found in most people’s packed schedules. These include:

  • Constant email and text notifications
  • Rush-hour traffic
  • Work schedule change
  • Mental or physical overworking
  • Financial concerns
  • Medical issues
  • Overexercising
  • Too much caffeine
  • Too much sugar and carbohydrates
  • Too little sleep
  • Frequently skipping or delaying meals

The issue is a person’s body cannot tell the difference between actual danger and a stressor. That is why a person’s body may react the same way to giving a presentation at work as it would to getting attacked by a wild animal.

Cortisol and the Sleep Cycle

The release of cortisol is closely related to the body’s circadian rhythm.

Within the first 30 to 40 minutes of waking up, about half of your daily cortisol is released by your body. It then gradually falls throughout the day under the control of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus.

Ideally, a person’s cortisol levels will be lowest around midnight, but this is unlikely to occur if they are still awake. For this reason, many recommend going to sleep before midnight and getting around seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

The Connection Between Cortisol and Weight Gain

Of all the stress hormones, cortisol and weight gain are especially linked.

The body has more cortisol receptors in the abdominal tissue than other areas of fat storage. Because of this, cortisol acts more on our fat cells in this area.

Blood Sugar Levels

To increase energy during the body’s fight-or-flight response, cortisol temporarily boosts blood sugar levels.

This rise in blood sugar levels is quickly followed by a drop that leaves people tired, hungry, stressed, and craving sugar and salt.

In this state, a person is more likely to reach for sweet, unhealthy snacks than balanced, high-protein foods. This can lead to a vicious cycle, as unhealthy snacks like donuts and cookies will just lead to another sudden rise and drop in blood sugar levels.

Plus, the increase in blood sugar levels also increases the body’s resistance to insulin. The higher the body’s insulin resistance is, the more likely it is for blood sugar to go up, weight gain to occur, and Type 2 Diabetes to develop.

Thyroid Function

Cortisol levels also impact the thyroid, a gland that helps maintain a healthy metabolism.

An impaired thyroid can cause weight gain and low metabolism symptoms, such as fatigue and feelings of depression. Other symptoms of a low metabolism include feeling cold, memory problems, and poor concentration.

Managing High Cortisol Levels and Weight Gain

To fight back against the effect cortisol can have on your body, it is important to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Doing so will help prevent the sudden hunger and sugar cravings that come with a quick drop in blood sugar.

To keep your blood sugar steady, it is important to eat a balanced mix of protein, beneficial carbs, and healthy fats.

Lean meats, eggs, and dairy are some quality sources of protein that will help break down amino acids and encourage the production of serotonin and dopamine. These “feel-good” neurotransmitters help combat stress hormones and weight gain.

While fats are considered taboo among many trying to lose weight, the human body needs a certain amount to function properly. Nonsaturated fats can help us think better and encourage a better mood without clogging the arteries.

Another alternative to consider is adding a dietary supplement, such as Pep2Dia to your diet.  It can help control blood sugar levels and lower the post-meal glycemic peak.  


Regular exercise can help reduce stress levels and increase a person’s resilience when faced with a stressor.

Exercise is known to increase the level of endorphins in the body. Like serotonin and dopamine, endorphins are “feel-good” neurotransmitters that can help combat high cortisol levels and weight gain.

Plus, exercise burns calories which can also help with weight loss and weight management.

Getting More Sleep

As mentioned earlier, sleep and cortisol levels are connected.

Not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact on your metabolism and increase hormone levels associated with hunger and appetite.

The recommended amount of sleep per night is generally seven to nine hours, but this can vary by a range of factors, including age, health, and typical physical and mental activities.

If you are struggling with falling asleep, a supplement such as Lactium may also help. 

Managing Weight Gain

The relationship between cortisol and weight gain should not be ignored.

Taking steps to lower your cortisol levels can boost your metabolism, decrease your feelings of hunger, and help prevent fat in your abdominal tissues. By improving your diet, exercise levels, and sleep schedule, you can reduce your cortisol levels and boost your overall health.Contact us today if you want to learn more about managing stress and living a healthier lifestyle.

The Relationship Between Stress and Diabetes

The Relationship Between Stress and Diabetes

Did you know that more than 34 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes? Of those 34 million, 90 to 95 percent have type two diabetes. 

Maybe you knew that, but did you know there is a connection between stress and diabetes? If you’re stressing out and have diabetes or prediabetes, how does that impact you? 

The answer to that question is something you need to know. Keep reading to find out more about stress and your blood sugar. 

How Are Stress and Diabetes Connected? 

Stress and diabetes are connected in more than one way. Your diabetes can cause stress, and your stress can increase your blood sugar levels.

Stress Caused by Diabetes

Whether your diagnosis is new or old, managing diabetes can get stressful very quickly. Making sure you are managing your sugar, meal planning, and other aspects can feel like they take over your life. 

This can lead to a lot of stress. You may also worry about dips or rises in your blood sugar that could impact your ability to function. 

There’s nothing worse than stressing about your health; however, managing a condition such as diabetes can take stress to a new level. 

The Impact of Stress on Diabetes

Whether your stress is about your diabetes or something else in your life, your stress, in turn, can impact your diabetes. Stress can impact you whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. 

When it comes to stress and type 1 diabetes, what you will often see is that these individuals can experience an increase or decrease in their glucose levels. 

However, when it comes to stress and type 2 diabetes, they generally experience an increase in their blood glucose levels. 

Why Does Stress Impact Blood Glucose Levels? 

Have you heard of fight or flight? Our bodies are conditioned to respond when we place stress on them. It’s a survival instinct. 

Fight or flight is triggered by the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a good hormone, but higher levels can have a negative impact on your health. 

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Because of that, it causes hormonal changes.

This includes a higher cortisol level and a lower level of sex hormones. Both of these hormones affect your body’s insulin levels. 

That’s the science behind why stress impacts diabetes. However, it can even be as simple as stress eating. 

When stressed, you might be more likely to reach for carbs and fatty foods that send your blood sugar soaring. On the other side of things, you might not want to eat. You might struggle to manage because you’re not eating. 

What’s the Solution? 

When it comes to diabetes, managing stress is imperative. If you don’t manage your stress, you will notice that you are struggling to manage your diabetes. 

There are many stress management techniques you can utilize to help you. 

Educate Yourself and Find Support

If you don’t know a lot about diabetes, it’s scary. The best way to manage the fear of the unknown is by turning it into the known. 

Use various resources to learn about your condition. Make lists of questions and talk to your doctor about them. Do whatever it takes to understand your condition. 

You can also find support groups. This will help you have somewhere that you can talk to others that understand your experience. There are even virtual support groups available. 

Educate the People Around You

Sometimes your stress can come from the people around you. If they’re constantly hovering and worrying, it can add a layer of stress. 

Take the time to educate them on what your diabetes means and how they can help you. This allows them the opportunity to support you in a way that works for both of you. 

Educating the people around you also helps them with the fear of the unknown. 

Make a Meal Plan

As you educate yourself, educate yourself about the foods you should be eating and make a plan. Planning meals and snacks will help you navigate busy days. 

You can even take a day to meal prep. Consider including Ingredia’s Pep2Dia® as part of your meal plan too. Many foods can help you regulate your blood sugar, research them, and add them to your diet. 

If you’re worried about making your own meal plan, work with a nutritionist.

Try Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a great way to manage your stress. Try mindfulness stress management techniques and learn how to incorporate it into your daily life. 

Mindfulness helps you be more aware of the needs of your body. It also helps to reduce stress.  

Organize Your Medication

If your diabetes management feels chaotic, it probably is, and that will cause another level of stress. Organize your medication and supplies. 

However, this isn’t just about making them pretty and organized. This aspect is also about taking the time to set up a schedule. 

Set alarms for when you need to check your blood sugar and take your medication and even eat. Make sure whether you’re on the go or at home, you have the supplies you need at hand and are easy to grab. 

Use Your Healthcare Team

Talk to your doctor, talk to a nutritionist, or talk to whoever on your healthcare team you feel can help you. They’re great resources for how to manage diabetes and how to still live your life to the fullest. 

Practice Self-Care

Everyone needs to practice self-care. However, it’s even more important when you have diabetes. 

Self-care can help you feel more at ease and calm. When life feels chaotic and crazy, self-care gives you the opportunity to take a step back and breathe. 

Self-care can often feel like a guilty pleasure, but in reality it’s a necessity. 

Manage Your Stress and Diabetes

Managing stress and diabetes is essential to a healthy life. Take the time to learn how to manage both so you can be a healthier you. 

Are you looking for more ways to manage your stress or diabetes? Check out our blog for more stress and blood sugar management articles. 

How Music Helps to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

How Music Helps to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

What’s the correlation between music and stress? The past two years have been historically stressful for many people. 

Between a global pandemic, political upheaval, catastrophic weather events, and interpersonal drama, people are more stressed than they have ever been. Therapy, meditation, yoga, and other stress-relieving techniques are gaining in popularity. 

With that in mind, it makes sense that music for anxiety and stress is getting attention. That’s why we’ve assembled a guide to the connection between music and stress. Let’s get started!

1. Music Provides Connection

Bonding with other people is difficult. Depending on where you live, you may still be worried about the pandemic. And navigating stresses around work, family, friends, and other relationships makes connection difficult.

This is especially true in the modern age when scientists say that we are suffering from a lack of interpersonal connection. That’s why music is the universal language—you can connect with anyone over their love of the same band, artists, genre, or performance. 

Relaxing music for anxiety and stress is different for everyone. If you want to connect with people who love the same music you do, your ‘calming music’ doesn’t need to be classical jazz. Whether you love country, hip-hop, or pop, any music to relieve stress and anxiety can be effective.

2. Music Is a Distraction

Sometimes, you need to work through your feelings. Therapists sometimes refer to this process as ‘sitting with your feelings.’ There may not be concrete work, but feeling them—as opposed to distracting or stuffing them down—is crucial to the healing process. 

Conscious processing isn’t the only way to deal with them, however. Instead, being able to ‘feel your feelings’ through music is important. That’s why we tend to turn to a Taylor Swift album or an Adele single during times of heartbreak.

The music is sad, so it compounds our own feelings of sorrow or heartbreak. This provides a sense of camaraderie, but it’s also a distraction. Hearing how someone else processed their feelings provides an alternate view of the situation.

When you’re distracted, your body is no longer in fight-or-flight mode. Instead, you have a chance to calm down, think about something else besides your breakup or toxic job, and take a time-out from your own emotional or mental issues. 

Whether you choose classical music for stress and anxiety or choose to jam out to Broadway show tunes, any type of distraction can help. Music that you aren’t familiar with can sometimes be better since it forces your brain to tune in and pay attention. 

3. Music Reduces Cortisol Levels 

Cortisol is sometimes known as ‘the stress hormone.’ It triggers a fight-or-flight response in your body, which is good for immediate survival. This reaction helps people exhibit superhuman strength in crisis, run farther than they ever dreamed, and survive the predator-prey situations our ancestors experienced. 

Today, though, cortisol can often do more harm than good. If you’re in a state of chronic stress, your body is constantly releasing cortisol. This may leave you emotionally drained and exhausted.

When you listen to calming music to reduce stress, your cortisol levels often drop. The human body wasn’t made to maintain extreme fight-or-flight responses over long periods of time.

But when you’re grieving, or going through a breakup, or staying at a toxic job, that’s exactly what your body does. Listening to music to relieve stress and anxiety can provide small patches of relief to help you get through the day. 

4. Music Slows You Down 

If you’re a big fan of rock or hip-hop, listen to those genres! But there’s still an argument to be made about classical music for stress and anxiety. 

When you listen to calming genres, such as classical music, indie music, or other slow music, your body calms down. Your body’s biological processes, such as breathing and heart rate, often react to the music you’re listening to.

When your breathing slows and your heartbeat is beating normally, you will feel less stressed. This gives you an opportunity to relax on a biological level, not just a mental or emotional one.

5. Music Sparks Creativity

Music to relieve stress and anxiety is a great idea because it sparks creativity. Human beings weren’t made to exist in a constant state of production. Instead, taking time to be creative, use our imaginations, and make things is crucial. 

Creativity is often emphasized for children. Rather than considering it childish, taking creativity into our adult lives is massive stress relief. There’s no ‘wrong way’ to be creative, which lowers the stakes and associated stress with everyday life. 

That’s why listening to music can help spark your creativity. Whether it’s an instrumental piece or there are lyrics involved, music is meant to tell a story. Humans are communal, storytelling creatures, and hearing someone’s story can help you decide to tell one of your own. 

Whether you make your own music, tell verbal stories, draw, or simply enjoy imagining stories in your head, music prompts the creativity that can distract you from ‘the real world.’ If you’re looking to reduce stress and anxiety, music is the way to go.

The Connection Between Music And Stress

Music and stress are associated together because one helps reduce the other. Whether you prefer old country classics or new rap music, there’s something for everyone.

Take the time to experiment a little when finding the genre or artist that really calms you down. After all, there’s no reason to subject yourself to elevator music just because you think it ‘should be’ calming. In fact, listening to music you hate will only raise your stress levels—not reduce them. 

Being able to holistically care for yourself, through music, a healthy diet, and the right supplements are also good ways to reduce stress. If you’re interested in learning more about being able to holistically take care of yourself, contact us today! We can help.

Consumer Study: 8 consumers in 10 satisfied with Lactium®!

Consumer Study: 8 consumers in 10 satisfied with Lactium®!

After conducting 9 clinical studies on more than 500 people, we wanted to address the primary goal of all our customers, consumer satisfaction.

Last year:
– We have recruited 300 people worldwide in three regions: the United States, France and China.
– We applied rigorous methodologies using validated questionnaires and partnered with BioMerieux for well-known expertise in this area.
– These 300 people were asked to try Lactium® at 300 mg/day for 30 days, either as a sign of stress or as a sign of sleep disorders.

We are proud to announce that we are getting results and that our overall satisfaction score is 78%. It is fairly evenly categorized as follows:

  • 78% in the stress indication
  • and 77% in the sleep disturbance indication.

Contact us for more information on this study and how to use it!

The Negative Effects of Stress Eating

The Negative Effects of Stress Eating

Stress eating is a vicious cycle perpetuated by anxiety. So, it’s no surprise that 47 percent of adults say they have been eating more or eating unhealthy foods due to the stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If have found yourself wondering — why do I stress eat? — and want to learn how to stop, keep reading. This article explains the reasons for emotional eating, its impact, and how to help yourself. 

What Is Stress Eating?

Stress eating, also called emotional eating, is a pattern of eating and behavior that causes one to push down emotions with food. Physical appetite or hunger does not have anything to do with stress eating. 

Unsurprisingly, there is a link between stress and weight gain. When a person’s levels of stress rise, it’s not unusual that they put healthy eating on the back burner. Stress may cause one to:  

  • Exercise or move less 
  • Eat comfort foods 
  • Skip meals
  • Overeat
  • Eat whatever is accessible (which is often unhealthy)
  • Drink less water 

This is because stress causes the body’s cortisol and adrenaline levels to rise, which triggers a physiological response that may compel one to turn to high fat, high sugar, energy-dense, and low nutritional value comfort foods.

This response, known as fight-or-flight, is leftover from the days of early human development when stressors were life-threatening, and food was in short supply. While there is still some benefit to this response, prolonged or chronic stress can lead to a number of different health issues, especially binge eating and complications that can follow. 

Stress Eating Disorder

While it is normal to eat when you are not hungry to relax, stress eating disorder is different. Stress eating disorder follows cycles of high stress, excessive eating, followed by shame and/or more stress. 

This cycle may look like:

You have a hard day at work or get into a fight with someone important to you, so you turn to food, often something sugary, salty, or high in fat, for comfort. Even if you are not hungry, you eat and maybe continue eating past the point of fullness. After the stress eating episode comes a wave of shame or worry, which in turn causes more stress.

When that new wave of stress is not dealt with in a healthy way, it can loop back into another cycle of emotional eating. Not only is it damaging to mental health, but this type of interaction with food can have a negative impact on your physical health

Side Effects of Stress Eating Disorder 

Stress eating disorder is a cycle. This cycle can cause mental and physical health side effects such as:

  • Excessive fatigue 
  • Increased abdominal fat
  • Fluctuations in weight 
  • Stomach pain, cramping, or other gastrointestinal issues
  • Preoccupation with food 
  • Feeling out of control
  • Isolation 
  • Difficulties telling the difference between emotional and physical hunger 

Stress, in conjunction with emotional eating, can also raise your risks for diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and heart conditions. As cortisol builds with excessive stress, it may raise your blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides levels. These changes also contribute to the accumulation of arterial plaque and coronary artery disease. 

Cortisol also impacts metabolic function, which can make weight loss more difficult. Obesity is a compounding factor of each of these conditions and can serve to cause more stress. Conditions like high cholesterol or diabetes do not happen overnight or just because you indulge every once in a while.

The more immediate signs that stress is taking a toll on your body are sleep issues like insomnia, muscle tension, muscle pain, and migraines. However, if stress and related issues like emotional eating go untreated for long enough, your cardiac health may begin to suffer. 

Treating Stress and Emotional Eating 

As mentioned above, stress and emotional eating feed into one another, causing a cycle that is not easy to break. So, what can you do to help manage a stress eating disorder?

Add More Movement To Your Day 

Try to add more movement and exercise to your daily routine. This can include going on a walk, trying out yoga, signing up for a gym, or even setting a timer on your phone that will remind you to get up and stretch every once and a while. Start out small and work your way up to bigger activities if you are intimidated by the idea of beginning a new fitness routine. 

Getting Professional Treatment 

Knowing how to stop stress eating is a process that is hard to take on alone. Reach out to your general physician for help or a referral to a specialist. The consequences are not only physical but mental too, so it is strongly suggested you seek out a mental health specialist as well. 

A therapist or doctor specializing in emotional eating behaviors can help teach you coping mechanisms and strategies for dealing with the thoughts food suppresses. 

Identify and Try to Remove Your Triggers 

Triggers can be emotional, like stress, boredom, anger, or social anxiety. Practice identifying what triggers you to overeat or eat emotionally and take a five-minute break before acting on any impulsive thoughts. Go for a walk, do some deep breathing, or take a moment to assess what you are feeling and why you want to stress eat. 

Other triggers may be environmental. These may include keeping certain types of food in your home that you know you go to when you are stressed out. Consider planning out your meals, making substitutions, or proportioning the food into appropriate containers. 

You do not have to cut out the trigger foods completely. Try not to assign a “value” to them or feel ashamed after eating them, as it will continue the cycle. Instead of thinking of them as taboo or off-limits, let yourself eat them in proper serving sizes to help control the urges. 

You Can Control Stress Eating 

Stress has an impact on many aspects of your life, and it can seriously impact your health. Stress eating is a self-perpetuating cycle that is difficult to break on your own. We hope this article helps you identify resources and motivates you to ask for help. 

Take a look at our activities page to see Ingredia’s natural products for stress relief and overall wellness.

How the Stress of the Holidays and Holiday Travel Plans Can Affect Your Animals

How the Stress of the Holidays and Holiday Travel Plans Can Affect Your Animals

Looking forward to holiday travel? Many Americans are planning on ‘revenge travel‘ — traveling more to make up for not being able to see friends and family during the pandemic.

As a result, trips will be longer, farther, and more involved than before. While these adventures may be exciting for you, what about your pet?

Pet stress spikes during the holidays. Animals are often creatures of habit and disrupting those habits can often stress them out and impact their health.

If you’re wondering how to reduce pet anxiety over the holidays, we’ve assembled a guide to help you out. Let’s get started!

1. Plan Ahead 

Assuming that your pet ‘will be alright’ is always dangerous. Cat owners are especially at risk of making this assumption. Cats are famous for being independent, but that doesn’t mean you should leave them alone for days on end. 

No matter what type of pet you have, they are used to the routine. That routine includes being walked, seeing you regularly, being fed at certain times, and so forth. 

No part of their routine has equipped them for being lonely in an empty house and drinking stale water out of a dish that hasn’t been replenished for days. If you don’t plan ahead, though, boarding shelters and pet sitters will be all booked up. 

If you plan ahead, you’ll be able to introduce your pet to their new circumstances. This will reduce their holiday stress, make sure the boarding or pet sitting arrangement is a good fit, and help keep them safe.

2. Establish the Rules 

What does your holiday travel situation look like this year? Maybe your holiday and pet stress is reduced slightly because you’re hosting this year, rather than traveling. 

Take a few minutes to consider the potential implications of pets and holidays. If you have a new puppy that is particularly troublesome, it might not be the best time to introduce them to a house full of strangers.

Even if your pet is well-behaved, know that your holiday stress will be compounded by keeping an eye on guests. Feeding your pet table scraps without permission can be fatal and will only add to your pet stress.

Try to introduce your pet to new surroundings and people slowly. Make sure you don’t change their diet too much, either. While it might be tempting to let them fill up on holiday treats, altering things too much could stress them out and negatively impact their digestion.

3. Make Some Changes

What if you’re only living for two days? If you have a healthy adult cat, for instance, most experts on pets and holidays agree you can leave them home alone. While your cat will most likely be okay.

But if you’re wondering how to reduce pet anxiety, you can do more. Even if your pet will be safe, they will still be quite stressed. After all, you are the main constant in your pet’s life. 

Start by playing the radio in your absence. As long as it’s safe to leave something plugged in, keep the radio on low while you’re gone. This will help your pet because the house won’t be silent. 

Create multiple feeding stations around the house, too. This advice depends on the eating habits of your pet. Some cats in particular are able to self-regulate.

Other pets will eat any food in sight, and then be sick. If this is the case, you may choose to invest in an automatic feeder for your absence. If not, you can set up multiple food and water bowls in different places. 

This will prevent your pet from running out and going hungry or thirsty while you’re not there to replenish the supply. Once you have their basic needs covered, though, it’s time to consider enrichment activities.

4. Enrichment Activities

How much of your day do you spend playing with your pet? Do they snuggle up in your lap when you watch TV at the end of the day? This is a huge part of their day. 

When you’re gone, what can you do to make sure they aren’t as bored as they might otherwise be? You can start with a new toy or two. 

This will make sure they have something shiny to play with and can help stimulate them and make your pet happier while you’re away on holiday travel. Their favorite treats won’t hurt, either. 

Of course, make sure it isn’t wet food that will go bad quickly. You’ll also want to limit the amount you set out — a balanced diet is crucial to pet health. That way, they won’t eat too quickly and get sick.

If you have a cat, there are plenty of things you can do to make life more exciting for your feline friend. Consider setting up some cardboard boxes in your absence. 

Cats love to nest inside contained, warm spaces. If you tuck a shirt of yours in there, so much the better! 

You can also create small blanket forts. Cats love dark spaces and lurking there usually brings them some joy during your absence. You can set these up in their usual favorite napping spots, anyway. 

Some pets also appreciate high perches. If it’s safe, you can set up some sort of perch or scratching tower for your pet to rest on in your absence. Whatever you do, make sure that you plan ahead for your pet’s safety above all else.

Reducing Pet Stress for Holiday Travel 

Pet stress might spike during holiday travel, but this is a short time of the year. All the quality time you spend with your pet at other times of the year pays off, and they’ll soon be feeling less stressed as soon as their routine is back to normal.

Reducing pet stress through careful planning, a healthy diet, and stress management techniques can help make the holidays better for both of you. If you’re interested in great supplements that can help with stress reduction, contact us today!