Cortisol: The forgotten blood sugar trigger

There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has caused added stress. Whether we’re worried about the virus itself, finances or just getting used to the “new normal,” anxiety levels for Americans have soared.

And if you have diabetes, you should know there’s something else that may be soaring along with your stress…

Your blood sugar.

In fact, according to a brand-new study from researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and The Ohio State University College of Medicine, there is a clear link between the stress hormone cortisol and higher blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

That’s why we’re not only looking at just what the study found and why, but also what you can do to knock your stress and your blood sugar down a few notches in order to live healthier.

Flattened cortisol

So, what did the Ohio researchers discover in their study that has us calling out stress as a problem for blood sugar management?

“In healthy people, cortisol fluctuates naturally throughout the day, spiking in the morning and falling at night,” said Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, lead author of the study and an endocrinologist and researcher at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center. “But in participants with type 2 diabetes, cortisol profiles that were flatter throughout the day had higher glucose levels.”

In other words, if your cortisol doesn’t do that downward fall, your blood sugar levels go up due to sustained levels of cortisol, making it harder for you to control your levels and manage your diabetes.

Previous research has shown that stress and depression are two of the major causes of a flatter cortisol profile. These sustained levels of cortisol make it much more difficult to control blood sugar and manage the disease, which is why it is so important for those with type 2 diabetes to find ways to reduce stress.

Dr. Joseph added, “Most people with Type 2 diabetes know the importance of exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of rest. But stress relief is a crucial and often forgotten component of diabetes management.”

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Lowering your cortisol levels

The relationship of cortisol with glucose levels was only observed in those with diabetes.

So, what would the researchers advise?

“It’s important to find something you enjoy and make it a part of your everyday routine.”

Since stress relief is crucial for diabetes management, the key is to find ways to lower your stress levels, like:

  • Yoga
  • Taking a walk
  • Reading a book
  • Relaxing in a nightly bath
  • Getting regular exercise

And during these pandemic times when many of us are still stuck at home as case numbers rise, try reaching out to friend and family in order to stay connected virtually, since maintaining a sense of human connection can help curb your anxiety. Then, shut off your television or put down your smartphone to avoid the constant onslaught of distressing news.

Related: How to lower your soaring summer stress hormone

You might also consider taking supplements to combat stress…

  • Rhodiola — A tonic herb to reduce stress and boost energy
  • Ashwaghanda (Indian Ginseng) — A common Ayurvedic remedy to help you adapt to stress
  • Theanine — A natural compound in green and black tea to help relax the mind
  • Phosphatidylserine (PS) and taurine — A supplement combo to enhance dopamine levels and calm the central nervous system. You can read more about PS here.

Remember, stress and skyrocketing blood sugar goes hand-in-hand, especially if you’re already living with diabetes. So, use the tips above to ease anxiety, take back your calm and control your blood sugar.

Editor’s note: Are you feeling unusually tired? You may think this is normal aging, but the problem could be your master hormone. When it’s not working, your risk of age-related diseases skyrockets. To reset what many call “the trigger for all disease” and live better, longer, click here to discover The Insulin Factor: How to Repair Your Body’s Master Controller and Conquer Chronic Disease!


  1. Study links stress hormone with higher blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes — EurekAlert!
  2. 9 ways to tame anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic — Mayo Clinic
  3. Supplements That Fight Stress — Doctor Oz


Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.