How To Keep Cortisol At Bay
There are several ways you can help keep your cortisol levels under control.
Naturally, theres exercise which helps improve virtually all aspects of your health.
But we also have other, perhaps even more effective methods.
These include meditation, eating the right foods, and taking natural anti-stress nootropics.
See for yourself:
World Mental Health Day Thehealthsitecom Spoke To Dr Saurabh Mehrotra He Is A Senior Consultant And At Mental Health Division Institute Of Neurosciences Medanta
Written by Satata Karmakar | Published : October 10, 2021 6:22 PM IST
Experts have long known that stress complicates a host of health problems. From worsening blood sugar levels to deteriorating heart conditions, stress can take a real good toll on your body. Does this mean stress can lead to diabetes? stress and anxiety don’t merely exacerbate disease, it actually can cause it. Today, on World Mental Health Day, TheHealthSite.com spoke to Dr. Saurabh Mehrotra, he is a Senior Consultant and at Mental Health Division, Institute of Neurosciences, Medanta, on the topic. Here’s what the doctor wants you to know about the importance of managing stress and anxiety to live a healthy life.
How To Manage Your Stress Levels
Some forms of stress cannot be managed, especially if they are not frequent in nature such as a one-time traumatic event or an accidental injury. Other types of stress, such as taking care of family, work stressors, or any other day-to-day stressful situations, will likely be there permanently or semipermanently. These types of stressful events are the ones that need to be managed as best you can.
To do this, you can proactively plan ahead. This means being prepared for the regular stressors of life and managing your time, reading self-help books, or minimizing the source of stress as much as possible. Calming exercises such as yoga and meditation have also been proven to reduce stress levels. You will also want to avoid indulging in unhealthy behaviors such as overeating. It may seem comforting at the time, but it will not help to relieve the stress you are experiencing.
Setting realistic and manageable goals is also a big stress reducer for those with diabetes. Instead of focusing on a large and vague goal such as losing weight, setting a goal of walking for at least a half-hour every day on specific days of the week will be much more achievable.
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Stress Affects Your Blood Pressure
Letâs go back to the hormone cortisol for a moment. Another one of cortisolâs functions is to narrow the arteries throughout the body in order to allow blood to pump harder and faster through the rest of the body. In fight-or-flight situations, this is advantageous because delivery of oxygenated blood throughout the body.However, constant stress over time keeps the blood vessels constricted and keeps your blood pressure high. Over time this high blood pressure can worsen many of the complications of diabetes, including diabetic eye disease and kidney disease. In fact, many people with diabetes eventually develop high blood pressure.It is no wonder that diabetes and hypertension often go hand-in-hand. Looking out for one can help prevent or alleviate the other.
The Effect Of Stress On Blood Sugar
Stress triggers an increase in the body’s levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol, as if you were under attack, explains Roger McIntyre, MD, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto in Canada. In response, the body releases extra energy into the bloodstream in the form of glucose.
When chronically heightened, cortisol works against glucose control even in people who dont have diabetes, Dr. McIntyre says. Yet people with diabetes are unable to properly process and store that glucose because of insulin resistance, meaning that glucose accumulates even more in their blood in times of stress.
Everyone gets stressed out at times, but its important to understand that theres a difference between short-term and long-term stress, he says. While lifes inevitable acute stressors getting stuck in traffic, bickering with a family member cause a temporary rise in blood sugar, its the factors that can lead to chronic stress, such as an unhappy marriage, a cruel boss, or the COVID-19 quarantine, that can cause serious damage.
Diabetes is even considered to be an independent factor in the development of depression, according an analysis published in June 2019 in Preventive Medicine Reviews. That means that if you take two otherwise identical people, the one with diabetes is significantly more likely to struggle with depression.
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Is It Only ‘negative Stress’ That Affects Blood Sugar
Even positive life changes can cause blood sugar to swing, says Amy Campbell, RD, a certified diabetes care and education specialist, and a contributor to DiabetesSelfManagement.com. Planning a wedding, moving to a new city, getting a job promotion such happy stressors can also send your fight-or-flight hormones into overdrive.
A past review cited the definition of stress as the physiological or psychological response to an external stimulus, regardless of whether that stimulus is good or bad. That means that if you experience a significant change in your life whether it’s positive or negative its a good idea to keep an extra-close watch on your blood sugar.
How To Cope With Stress
Everyone copes with stressful situations in different ways. If you want to change the way you react so things feel easier, try the Stress Manager tool on our Learning Zone. Answer questions on how you deal with the demands of managing your condition to get a plan of action to help you simplify stressful situations.
Look after yourself
At times of stress, its even more important to remember to look after yourself and treat yourself kindly.
But we know its not always as easy as that. If youre extra busy at work or looking after family then forgetting to eat or take medication can happen.
Its important to get a balance between looking after yourself without putting too much pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly. This can add or lead to stress. But its good to be aware of how easy it can be to give into the habit of letting diabetes self-care slip in times of stress.
Getting enough sleep and building exercise, rest and relaxation time into your routine helps some people cope better with stress.
“When things get hard, I usually go into self-care over drive. If too many hypos are throwing me off, I’ll hole up on the sofa with blankets and some trashy TV to make me feel better.”
Laura, who has type 1 diabetes – read Laura’s story
And you dont need us to tell you that turning to comfort food will raise your blood sugar and make you feel worse. Similarly, drinking more alcohol will affect your blood sugar levels.
Talk to others
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Stress Affects The Immune System
Chronic stress may also affect the immune system.
In one study, researchers noticed that a particular immune system response to chronic stress is a similar response to one that is involved in the development of type 2 diabetes.
To determine if stressful events are causing an increase in blood sugar, people can measure their blood glucose throughout the day. They should note how they are feeling and when they last ate.
People can then show their readings to their doctor for analysis.
If the doctor notices that stress may be affecting blood sugar, they can explore different techniques to help a person control their stress levels.
The American Diabetes Association recommend that people with diabetes take care of their mind just as much as they do their body.
Stress can be both a contributor to diabetes and a consequence of it. However, there are many effective ways to relieve stress.
The strategy that works best for one person may be different for the next person. Exploring different options can help a person find the strategy that works best for them.
A 2018 study that took place in a clinic in Iran found that taking part in social-related stress management training could improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Stress management techniques may help people manage their glycated hemoglobin levels.
Acute And Chronic Stress Response: Role Of The Hypothalamic
The stress response, which maintains allostasis, is comprised of a cascade of adaptive responses and is manifested through two interacting stress pathways. First is the activation of the sympathetic adrenal medullary system, with release of catecholamines that is typical during periods of acute stress . The second key component is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The HPA axis is a neuroendocrine system with inhibitory feedback loops involving hormone secretion from a remote target gland. Stress stimulates the release of corticotropin-releasing factor from the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus which in turn stimulates the synthesis of adrenocorticotropic hormone from the anterior pituitary. ACTH subsequently triggers the production of glucocorticoids such as cortisol or corticosterone in the adrenal cortex. In addition to these mechanisms of HPA axis activation, cytokines produced by immune cells or adipocytes can also stimulate the HPA axis, at the levels of the hypothalamus, anterior pituitary gland, and the adrenal cortex. The first evidence that cortisol levels may be related to obesity and metabolic disease was derived from clinical observations of Cushing’s syndrome the pathological hypercortisolemia in Cushing’s syndrome is associated with upper body obesity, atherosclerosis, glucose intolerance, and hypertension. Conversely, adrenalectomy in Cushing’s syndrome patients reversed impaired glucose intolerance and obesity .
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Dealing With Diabetes Can Cause Anxiety
Lets face it: Controlling diabetes is hard work. That in itself is enough to cause worry and stress. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, those with diabetes are 20 percent more likely to experience anxiety than those without the disease.
We understand this, and were dedicated to helping alleviate your worry by working together as a team to address any distressing issues.
Scary Movies Work Stress And Trauma Of Any Kind All Cause Your Liver To Release Stored Glucose To Support Natural ‘fight Or Flight’ Responses
Last weekend I decided to stay up late and watch a scary movie. It had something to do with super-gross vampires who get their jollies by eating the flesh of unsuspecting hotel guests.
Anyway, after the final gut-wrenching, heart-pumping scene, I decided to check my blood sugar. Ill be darned it had risen about 200 mg/dL during the movie. With blood that sweet, I felt like the grand prize for any vampires that might happen to be lurking in my neighborhood.
As you may be aware, the liver serves as a storehouse for glucose, keeping it in a concentrated form called glycogen. The liver breaks down small amounts of glycogen all the time, releasing glucose into the bloodstream to nourish the brain, nerves, heart and other always active organs.
The livers release of glucose depends largely on the presence of certain hormones. Of all the hormones in the body, only insulin causes the liver to take sugar out of the bloodstream and store it in the form of glycogen. All the other hormonesincluding stress hormones, sex hormones, growth hormones and glucagoncause the liver to secrete glucose back into the bloodstream.
Anxious moments and nerve-racking situations happen to all of us. From speaking in public to test-taking to a simple visit to the doctor or dentist, many events elicit a stress hormone response that causes, among other things, a sharp blood sugar rise.
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Recharge Your Batteries By Getting A Good Nights Sleep
Plenty of research shows that lack of adequate sleep can lead to emotional strain for example, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that sleep deprivation is a contributing factor to anxiety disorders. Whats more, poor sleep may cause blood sugar levels to swing: In a large study published in Diabetes Care, people with type 2 diabetes who slept less than 4.5 hours per night had higher blood sugar levels than those who slept 6.5 to just over 7 hours a night. Sleeping too much was also associated with higher blood sugar. Getting enough sleep can help your diabetes management, Campbell says. If youre not sleeping well at night, discuss the matter with your doctor.
How Your Body Reacts To Stress
When your body detects the presence of stress and anxiety, it sees it as an attack. As such, the central nervous system prepares your body for the battle. It does this by producing increased amounts of adrenaline and cortisol.
These two hormones have a direct impact on your coronary system. Your heart starts pumping blood and rushing it to different parts of your body. This is to ensure that all your organs have enough energy to fight the symptoms of stress. And there are many possible symptoms, ranging from heartburn to trouble breathing.
If stress is a constant in your life, it can result in a number of chronic illnesses. These include severe insomnia, infertility, and even heart attack. Moreover, stress also affects your blood sugar levels, which can worsen the symptoms of diabetes.
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Summary: How Stress Affects Your Blood Sugar
In short, stress will generally cause your blood sugar to rise. It will also be difficult to bring it down because of the insulin resistance created by stress hormones and the production of glucose from your livers response to adrenaline.
The larger majority of stressful situations arent something we can easily predict, but once youre experiencing stress, you can predict that your blood sugar might spike.
Remembering to check your blood sugar during and after stressful situations is an important part of diabetes management, but dont add to your stress by expecting to be able to easily correct any high blood sugars during a stressful state.
Intermittent Fasting Reduces Blood Sugar
The benefits of intermittent fasting extend far beyond weight loss. Studies show it can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease because it improves the regulation of your blood sugar, increases your resistance to stress, and suppresses inflammation.
A case study published in the US National Library of Medicine showed patients with type 2 diabetes who participated in an intermittent fasting protocol lost weight and managed to stop insulin therapy. In studies where weight loss didnt occur, fasting still improved the glucose levels of participants.
This latter finding is significant because it confirms that a reduction in bloodstream glucose is not a secondary benefit of weight loss, but a direct result of intermittent fasting. This reduction in blood sugar could be due to the changes in signaling pathways and metabolic rhythm that fasting invokes, as well as an increase in ketones.
Improvements in blood sugar tend to be dependent on fasting. Your blood sugar will typically improve after 2-4 weeks of compliance with a fasting protocol, and it dissipates if you return to eating three meals or more per day.
You may be able to maintain your weight loss after you stop fasting, but long-term fasting is recommended if you need to continue to regulate your blood sugar.
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The Symptoms Of Stress
Stress can manifest differently in one person from the next. For some, positive or negative stress may produce immediate tears, for example. In others, it may cause them to be silent and speechless. And others may become easily angry and irritable.
Depending on the severity of the stress level, your symptoms can vary. Here are some examples of stress symptoms:
Mild to moderate stress
- panic attacks
Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases. Stress is linked to 6 of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
Before we move on to how stress can affect your blood sugar and what you can do to reduce stress, lets take a closer look at the hormones involved in a stress reaction.
Where Exactly Do You Think India Is When It Comes To Mental Health Keeping In Mind The Stigma And The Lack Of Understanding Of The Condition
As far as mental health is concerned, as a nation, we are not doing great in India. An estimated 14% of the total population of the country is suffering from some of the other forms of mental health diseases. That would mean 1 out of every 7 individuals in India is battling these disorders. That clearly shows how high the numbers are when it comes to mental health issues.
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How Does Adrenaline Affect Your Blood Sugar
In a non-diabetic body, that surge of adrenaline triggering a surge of glycogen would be accompanied by a surge of insulin, too.
As people with diabetes, were missing the surge of insulin part, which can easily spike your blood sugar from 120 mg/dL to 300 mg/dL in less than an hour.
Adjusting your insulin for this can be tricky. A quick bolus of insulin using your normal correction factor ratio could easily produce little or no effect on the high blood sugar while adrenaline is present.
Personally, Ive found that I needed a significant increase in my background insulin doses on the day of a powerlifting competition in order to keep my blood sugar from spiking due to adrenaline. A quick bolus would have no impact and the only thing that would otherwise bring my blood sugar down was when the competition ended and my body relaxed.
If youre dealing with predictable adrenaline around a sporting event, for example, talk to your healthcare team about making an adjustment in your background insulin.
If youre dealing with sudden, unexpected surges of adrenaline because you just got into a car accident, for example, youll likely have to try lowering it with a bolus of insulin but may not see it come down for a few hours.
When its actually not adrenaline