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Cortisol Stress and CoffeeCortisol

What is it?

Cortisol is a natural steroid hormone which is produced by adrenal cortex, a part of the adrenal gland. It is commonly know as “stress hormone” because human beings produce more cortisole while doing stressful jobs. Cortisol has the power to increase blood pressure, blood sugar level and decrease immune responses. It is directly linked with the functions of liver. Cortisol plays an important role in controlling inflammation. The chemical reproduction of this hormone named hydrocortisone is commonly used in the treatment of inflammatory skin. This hormone always helps to make sure that the body maintains the required volume of sodium and the liver remove toxins from the body.  


Coffee, caffeine and cortisol and stress

Daily use of coffee results in the secretion of more cortisol which increases the production of lactate. Studies so far suggest that high level of cortisol shrivel the division of the brain that is responsible for memory. High volume of this hormone affects your immune system and decreases your body’s power to resist infections. If you take more than 3 cups of coffee daily then it will result in the depletion of your adrenals. If the adrenal gland is over stimulated, it may result in fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, depression and a weakened immune system. Usually, caffeine stays in people’s system for about eight to thirty hours. The presence of caffeine in the system leads to the release of more glucose in to the blood stream followed by a stern fall in blood sugar. Coffee also provides more stress on your kidneys.

Recent studies proved that there are some major health benefits in using tea daily. Green and black teas have 8 to 10 times antioxidant capacity when compared to fruits and vegetables. The possibility for heart disease and stroke is very less in people who use two or more cups of tea on regular basis. Black, green, iced and oolong teas are good for health. Adding too much of milk with tea is not good because this will reduce the antioxidant capacity.

Symptoms of too much of it

You do not feel any changes immediately because of the increase in cortisol level. If the increase in cortisol level remains same for a period of several months or years, you will start feeling the negative impacts. Conditions like weight gain (particularly around the abdomen), depressed immune function, accelerated aging and stomach ulcers are commonly found in patients with high cortisol level. High cortisol level make bad impact on the immune system, fertility, bone health and the list grows longer. Some new research also proved that high cortisol level results in abdominal weight gain, loss of verbal declarative memory, insulin resistance, and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. 

Some of the High Cortisol Symptoms Include: 

  1. Constant Fatigue
  2. Brain Fog
  3. Cold Hands & Feet
  4. Depression
  5. Poor Mental Clarity
  6. Sweet Tooth
  7. Eyelid Twitching
  8. Weak Sexual Desire
  9. Low Zinc
  10. Low Magnesium

Low Cortisol

Usually, low cortisol levels occur due to the adrenal fatigue or the fatigue phase of the stress response. Low cortisol level leads to slow glucose production and high insulin level. If you do not have enough cortisol production in your body, it often results in Addison's disease. Very low cortisol level in your body is a life-threatening condition. 


Also know as adrenal insufficiency, Cortisol deficiency is a condition which is either inborn or acquired. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is the common genetic cause of cortisol deficiency and Addison’s disease and hypopituitarism are the main causes of acquired cortisol deficiency. But the symptoms of this deficiency disease are similar in both cases. 

Some of the most common symptoms include: 

  1. Muscle weakness and fatigue
  2. Weight loss and decreased appetite
  3. Low blood pressure and fainting
  4. Low blood sugar
  5. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

Foods that lower Cortisol

Low glycemic index food items can lower cortisol volume in your body. It is recommended to take food items such as eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables to lower the cortisol level. High glycemic index food containing huge volume of sugar or starch is not good for reducing this hormone level. High glycemic index food needs utilization of almost an equivalent mass of animal protein to keep glycemic balance. It is better to avoid taking very low calorie diets daily. Low calorie dieting is a main stress to the body and it increases cortisol production while declining testosterone.

Learn more about stress management.

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