Cortisol and Blood Sugar Balancing
Cortisol, Stress and Diet
The adrenalsglands are an essential pair of organs which sit on the kidneys. They help us deal with changes in life and especially with stress. They release a number of hormones including
Cortisol (also called hydrocortisone) DHEA and Adrenalin
Hormones affecting mineral balance e.g. sodium/potassium
Sex hormones and their precursors.
These hormones are some of the ones that make us feel good and give us energy and lust for life. They are secreted in a cycle called the circadian rhythm – high cortisol in the morning which reduces through the day and melatonin at night for sleep
Research has shown that different Blood Types have a natural variation in the level of the stress hormone cortisol and how it is reduced. Blood Type A’s have a naturally high level of the stress hormone cortisol and produce more in response to stressful situations Additional stress loads often manifests in several ways; including disrupted sleep patterns and daytime brain fog, In extreme cases for some Type As, stress can manifest in obsessive-compulsive disorder, insulin resistance and hypothyroidism. Some signs of hypothyroidism include constipation and sluggish digestion.
Stress is a state of mind that believes everything is an emergency.’
In periods of long-term or profound mental or physical stress the adrenal glands can go into overdrive but eventually they will become exhausted. The result is that hormonal levels of Cortisol & DHEA in the blood stream become imbalanced.
A vicious cycle….
Stress burns more nutrients
Digestion slows down or is inhibited
Poor absorption of nutrients
Less ability to adapt
Less ability to cope with Stress
Dietary causes of Stress leading to adrenal fatigue
Sugar and refined carbohydrates have a major impact on adrenal fatigue. Sugar includes honey, maple syrup, fructose, dried fruit, and fruit juices. Refined foods are broken down by processing and have more surface area exposed to digestion, so they digest more quickly. These sugars quickly enter the blood stream causing blood sugar to go up too high too fast.
The body responds to high blood sugar by releasing insulin. The hormone insulin signal cells to open and use the sugar in the liver, muscles and fat tissues. We are designed to eat small regular amounts of good quality fish and vegetable protein, whole grains (not refined), vegetables and fruits which released energy slowly. Diabetics do not control sugar well.
Now we get into the adrenal involvement. Cortisol is of the stress hormones the adrenal glands release. There is also a cortisol release anytime there is low blood sugar. In ancient times stress meant that we had to fight or run away, the fight/flight response. It sends message to the brain to think quickly and to the legs to run away. The muscles that move quickly use sugar, and cortisol causes blood sugar to increase to continue the supply. Sometimes you can be really hungry, then after a while the hunger is gone as cortisol does its job The same thing happens with low blood sugar by an over-release of insulin.
What you can do
You do not have a high intake of sugar and refined foods which is great
Healthy nutritional choices regularly can help buffer against excessive elevation of cortisol, Exercise which will re-sensitize the body to regulate the cortisol stress response.
Using methods of relaxing can reduce the reaction to stress like sitting calmly and breathing
Probiotics for immune support and regulation
Avoid foods with can cause difficulty in digestion which will stress the body include meats
Avoid caffeine (Berocca) which affects cortisol and quality sleep replace with Chamomile
Vitamin C is essential for Adrenal support and for regular bowel movements 500mgX 2 a day
Use Magnesium for relaxation – digestion and emotional plus improve sleep and hormones
L Theanine supports relaxation