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The Stress Hormone Cortisol and Blood Sugar

Getting hormones under control is pivotal to the success of your blood sugar control. Your adrenal glands are vital for optimal blood sugar stability. When your adrenal glands are not working properly, it causes high levels of cortisol production to circulate throughout your system. Increased cortisol secretion are one of those factors that is often overlooked by mainstream medicine when it comes to the type 2 diabetes management.

The stress hormone cortisol is one of the main factors that regulate your blood sugar levels producing lower or higher blood sugar levels. Insulin is not the only hormone involved in blood sugar regulation. There are several hormone that must be optimized for diabetes management to reverse their diabetes naturally, however for the purpose of this article, we will focus on the stress hormone cortisol.  When cortisol is released by your adrenal glands, it’s accompanied by cytokines.

But what are these cytokines? Cytokines are chemical signals that cells use to communicate with each other. Elevated cytokines suppress your immune system and the ability of your pituitary gland and your hypothalamus to make a variety of hormones needed for optimal health.

Adrenal Glands Make Stress Hormone Cortisol in Response To Stress Levels

Whether it’s physical, chemical, or emotional stress. Cortisol also promotes inflammation throughout the body, the more inflammation throughout the body the more the adrenals pump out cortisol and other hormones like steroid hormone. This becomes a vicious cycle. As cortisol and steroid hormone production happens, the cytokines will suppress your pituitary gland. (The area of the brain responsible for releasing TSH as well as many male and female hormones)

Common Causes of Elevated Cortisol and Blood Sugar Imbalances

Now there are several causes of increased production of the stress hormone cortisol, some of them being acute stress, chronic stress, post traumatic stress disorder, or hidden gut infections, like, parasites. You’d be surprised at how many diabetics have parasitic infections. You need to make sure that your blood sugar levels remain stable throughout the day. And you need to understand when your blood sugar levels go up or down, your cortisol levels are going up and down, which means your cytokines are going up and down, which in turn means your pituitary will be under significant stress levels, ultimately this can and will alter blood sugar as well as thyroid hormones.

So be aware, if your stress levels are high, your adrenal glands are still going to have to work harder, and cortisol secretion levels among other stress hormones are going to increase. Cytokine levels (inflammation) are going to increase, and it will cause your pituitary not to function properly. This in turn will cause decreased amounts of thyroid-stimulating hormone TSH and weight gain despite healthy diet and regular exercise.

How Your Cortisol Levels Produce a Low Blood Sugar

In a stressful situation, your cortisol regulates glucose levels in your body by using protein stores through a process called gluconeogenesis in the liver. Gluconeogenesis is a process wherein our body increases our blood glucose levels using non-sugar sources such as protein. This process can help your sympathetic nervous system in a fight or flight stressor. But if this increased levels of cortisol is maintained for a long time, our bodies will be constantly producing glucose causing higher blood sugar levels.

Study suggests that this process can make our bodies more susceptible to diabetes mellitus or type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease or heart disease. This is because cortisol counterbalances the effect of insulin or in other terms, cortisol promotes insulin resistance in our body. This insulin resistance persists when our body’s cortisol levels are chronically increased. If this happens, our pancreas, the organ responsible for insulin secretion, will not keep up with the high demand of insulin. This would result in higher blood glucose levels, our body will not get the sugar it needs and it will be a never ending cycle.

What Does Adrenal Fatigue and Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia) Have in Common?

Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can be a dangerous condition for many people. Both chronic stress and adrenal fatigue syndrome can contribute to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Adrenal stress hormones like epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, DHEA and the main stress hormone, cortisol, play a vital role in blood sugar regulation. This hormones should be evaluated with any person suffering with depression, diabetes and chronic fatigue. In fact, some of the symptoms of hypoglycemia, such as irritability and nervousness, brain fog, headaches, may sometimes be the effects of poor adrenal function as a primary problem rather than of the low blood sugar itself.

I believe everyone who suffers with diabetes (high blood sugar/low blood sugar), depression or hypoglycemia, have their adrenal glands properly tested. Without proper testing, you may be put on medications that you may not need.

Sweets Satisfy Cravings, But it Causes Blood Sugar Imbalances and More Stress to the Adrenal Glands.

Adrenal fatigue leads to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. When this happens the liver has problems in converting glycogen (the form in which blood sugar is stored) into glucose which is the only effective form that is used by the body. Since the stress hormone cortisol is responsible for this function, low cortisol levels compromise the sugar levels, leading to imbalances.

When the body is under acute stress, the cells require even more energy and insulin levels will have a significant increase. However, the cells’ extra energy requirement is not met because cortisol production are low. This results in even lower blood sugar levels.

Under normal circumstances, those who suffer from hypoglycemia reach for some sugar to get over this perceived energy loss. This may be in the form of a donut, cake, sweet, sweet drink or coffee or a combination. While this quickly produces higher blood sugar levels resulting in a spike and relieves the symptoms, the action lasts for a short time of between 45 and 90 minutes. After that comes the sugar low – this is worse since it results in lower sugar levels than earlier. With this constant high and low of sugar levels, the body is actually in a constant state of stress especially the adrenal gland.

Caffeine and Sugar Produce A Roller Coaster Ride You Don’t Want To Experience

blood sugar rollercoaster

It may be fun going on an actual roller coaster that takes you to steep highs and plunging lows, giving you a rush, but when the sugar levels in the body are not in balance, it can actually be a very exhausting ride. When people use coffee and a sugary snack to increase their energy levels, while they feel good in the short time, the subsequent low can be quite depressing.

These constantly highs and lows actually keep you from functioning at your best and can be wreaking havoc on your health.  If you have established in your office an everyday routine, you know well that there are fixed breaks for food and snacks and these are meant to produce higher blood sugar levels, which are on the downswing at these times.

The brain is constantly at work and always requires energy to function, even more so when it is under stress. Glucose is one of the prime fuels required by the brain to do its work. However, when there are problems with the adrenals and the stress hormone cortisol, the availability of glucose is affected. Various symptoms of adrenal fatigue and hypoglycemia are caused by reduced glucose available to the brain.

Why Overeating Causes More Stress On The Adrenals.


Overeating does not help in the long run. Increased insulin secretion due to higher food intake helps in storing the extra food. But this is simply stored glucose as fat and the person become overweight. While it was a great method of storing food in ancient times, when food was available and not available at a certain period, constantly resulting in a cycle of feast and famine, it is not good in our modern time with easy accessibility to food.

Now food is constantly available but the body still goes through feasting and famine cycles during a day. When your blood sugar levels are low, your body is in a state of famine and wants to compensate the low blood glucose during the next feeding cycle.

Unfortunately what all this leads to is being overweight. In fact, hypoglycemia is one of the leading causes of gaining weight. When your blood sugar goes low, you eat more of high calorie food, which is in turn stored as fat.

Therefore, it is all the more important to avoid the blood sugar dips so that you can keep your body mass index stable, your energy levels constant and stay healthy.

Eating a healthy diet and healthy foods, with a low glycemic index, higher protein and fat, eliminating grains and other pro inflammatory foods, at regular meal times will reduce stress in our adrenal glands and will promote long term physical and mental health. Plus all of these are good for diabetes prevention.

Our Personal Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Program Is A Great place To Start

Our Adrenal Recovery Program is a Natural Treatment for symptoms such as Fatigue, Brain Fog, Anxiety, Sleeping problems, Hypoglycemia, Book-Cover-For-Chronic-Fatigue-PageWeight gain, and many of the symptoms that often accompany Adrenal Gland Imbalances.

Our office utilizes Natural nutritional supplements, Dietary modifications, Hormone and endocrine support formula, and lifestyle guidance.

  • To Schedule a Free 15 minute Phone Consult to see if this program is right for you. Fill out our online questionnaire.
  • If you’re ready to get started and schedule an appointment take a moment and fill out our contact us form and in the comment box let us know what time of the day works best to contact you. One of our New Patient Coordinators will contact you with the next available new patient opening within 24-48 hours.
  • Still have questions? Our Free 15 minute personalized Phone consult is a great place to start.

We’re here to listen and help you through this frustrating and confusing time.

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