Great news from Yale University researchers: You can cut your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and depression by 55 percent — plus shed 14 pounds this year — just by healing your adrenal glands. These “stress glands” control the release of cortisol, a hormone that hastens tissue-damaging inflammation. Follow these easy steps to soothe your adrenals naturally.
Cue up calming tunes
When you’re tackling a stressful task, playing soothing background music could reduce your cortisol production by 25 percent, plus help you stay calm for two hours after you turn off the tunes, according to research in Frontiers in Psychology. Explains study coauthor Martin Wiegel, Ph.D., when you’re surrounded by soothing music, your brain sends “stay calm” messages to your adrenal glands, and that can prevent cortisol surges as effectively as anti-anxiety medications.
Toss the junk mail
Taking 20 minutes every day to speed-tidy — say by tossing unwanted junk mail, hanging up wayward coats, or putting away folded laundry — cuts cortisol release and stress levels in half for 87 percent of women studied. That, say UCLA researchers, is because your brain’s visual cortex responds to suddenly tidy spaces by sending calming nerve signals to your adrenal glands.
Squeeze your fingers
When you’re feeling more rattled than relaxed, massaging your fingers for two minutes could reduce cortisol release by 33 percent, cutting your edginess by 65 percent, say University of Miami researchers. That’s because stimulating the pressure-sensitive nerve endings in your fingers prompts your brain to release dopamine—a chemical that soothes overstimulated adrenal glands. To do: Firmly massage the sides, pads and nail beds of each finger and thumb.
Savor sweet potato fries
You’ll feel 35 percent more relaxed and clear-headed if you enjoy a small sweet potato every day. Psychiatrist Anita Gautam, M.D., explains that sweet potatoes brim with betacarotene, a nutrient that prevents cortisol surges, plus speeds healing of damaged, aging adrenal gland tissues. Bonus: Adding 1 tsp. of butter or olive oil will triple your nutrient absorption.