Cortisol is an important hormone in the body secreted by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is often referred to as “the stress hormone” because it is secreted at higher levels during the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress. Cortisol is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body, like proper glucose levels, regulating your metabolism, and the monitoring the bodies insulin release. No doubt about it, cortisol is an important factor for those trying to manage diabetes.
All people react differently to stress and as a result, cortisol secretion varies among individuals. One person may secrete higher levels of cortisol than another in the same situation. Studies have also shown that people who secrete higher levels of cortisol in response to stress tend to eat more food, and notably food that is also higher in carbohydrates. Obviously, this can be very detrimental when trying to manage diabetes.
What can you do if you are living with diabetes and a high level of stress? Take time for yourself and engage in activities you love. Take a walk, read a book or enjoy a funny movie with loved ones. Try to incorporate stress relieving strategies several times a week as well. Breathing exercises, stretching, meditation and yoga have all shown to have a significant impact on reducing stress which, in turn, reduces cortisol levels. Reducing cortisol helps the body to balance glucose levels, regulate metabolism and stabilize insulin release. Reducing your stress level is part of self-care and is critical to effectively managing diabetes.