The Cortisol-Stress Connection (and blood sugar imbalances)

By MAYS Latest Reply 2013-01-08 20:18:08 -0600
Started 2013-01-03 16:28:55 -0600

Did you know that…

Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the cortex of the adrenal glands.

Cortisol assists you in regulating blood pressure, cardiovascular functions, and your body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Cortisol is also involved in glucose metabolism, insulin release for blood sugar maintenance, and inflammatory response.

Cortisol helps in responding to and coping with stress, trauma and environmental extremes. Normal levels of cortisol increases energy and metabolism and helps regulate blood pressure. Cortisol also enhances the integrity of blood vessels and reduces allergic and inflammatory responses.

Under normal circumstances, your body maintains or regulates your natural cortisol levels. Most healthy adults have a high cortisol level first thing in the morning and a low cortisol level at night. But when you’re feeling stressed, your body secretes more cortisol. Cortisol is frequently referred to as the “stress hormone” because it’s also secreted in higher levels during the body’s fight or flight response to stress. It is also responsible for several stress-related changes in your body.

Small increases of cortisol produce positive effects like improved memory, reduced sensitivity to pain, and increased sustained energy.

However, elevated cortisol levels from prolonged or chronic stress can cause side effects such as suppression of thyroid function, cognitive impairment, increased blood pressure, decreased bone density, and blood sugar imbalances. High levels of cortisol can also lower your immunity and inflammatory responses, as well as slow down the wound healing process.

Chronic stress leads to chronically high levels of cortisol in your body. This creates a need for higher levels of other hormones (e.g. thyroid, insulin, estrogen and testosterone) in order to do the same job.

Chronic high concentration of cortisol is toxic to brain cells and can cause short-term memory loss. A lifetime of high cortisol levels may be a primary contributor to Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia. High cortisol is also a primary cause of osteoporosis.


12 replies

CJ55 2013-01-04 13:02:11 -0600 Report

Ty Mays, great article. My endo wants me to have my cortisol level checked. I don't have high BP or stress but she thinks my levels are off due to having to take cortisone shots every month.

GabbyPA 2013-01-04 09:59:18 -0600 Report

This is very eye opening. I used to live under high stress and I know I was so messed up then. I think my stress is less now, but it is that quiet stress that gets me. I didn't know that this is what was going on. Are there tests to find out what our levels are?

jayabee52 2013-01-04 01:20:48 -0600 Report

Great article Mays, thanks for sharing! (lots of interesting links too!)

I was quite abusive to my body after my divorce as I had to make a living to pay child support. That may explain (but not excuse) my way my body (doesn't) work right now and why sometimes I FEEL "dumber than a box of rocks" (my apopogies to the rocks - LoL!)