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Stress Affects the Glucose-Insulin System
By Dr Joseph J Collins, ND, RN

This article is part of the Blood Sugar Health Educational Module
 
Stress can have an adverse effect on the Glucose-Insulin System due to the increased levels of adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol that typically occur with stress. The adrenal gland is involved in the initial response to stress though two distinct systems that regulate adrenal function. The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenocortical (HPA) axis, controls the amount of cortisol and other hormones that are secreted from the adrenal cortex. The Sympatho-Adrenomedullary-System (SAS) controls the amount of epinephrine and norepinephrine that are secreted from the adrenal medulla. The HPA and the SAS work together to increase blood glucose levels during times of stress. An exaggerated or excessive reaction to stress can cause the HPA and the SAS to secrete too much cortisol and epinephrine.
Cortisol causes increased blood glucose levels by a process called gluconeogenesis (the formation of new glucose). When we wake up in the morning in a fasting state (having not eaten for many hours) our cortisol levels are usually high in the morning. The body responds to hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) by raising cortisol. The cortisol increases blood glucose levels quite quickly.
However, increased cortisol levels that accompany stress can also increase blood glucose levels. If the stress persists, then the constantly inappropriate glucose elevations will have adverse effects throughout the body, such as weight gain, insulin resistance (prediabetes), type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Cardiometabolic Disease, and diseases of the blood vessels (macrovascular and microvascular vessel disease).
Epinephrine (adrenaline) can cause an increase in blood glucose levels due to glycogen breakdown. This is the classic “fight or flight” response that has been talked about for years. It is a natural physiological response to a threatening situation, which gives you that burst of adrenaline you may need to either fight your way out of a stressful situation or run away for the thing causing the stress. This increased blood glucose caused by adrenaline may be beneficial if you do have to fight or run away. The increased blood sugar would result in increased insulin secretion. The higher insulin levels would increase glucose uptake by muscle cells and provide the muscles with the additional energy they need to either fight or run.
However, if the increased stress (and the increased adrenaline) does not involve an opportunity to utilize the increased glucose levels, then instead of the muscles using the glucose, your fat cells and liver will take up the glucose and convert it to triglycerides. Excess conversion of glucose into triglycerides increase the risks of prediabetes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Cardiometabolic Disease, and diseases of the blood vessels (macrovascular and microvascular vessel disease).
In addition to stress and the effect to the two hormones adrenaline and cortisol, the two other primary causes of prediabetes (and the consequential diseases of prediabetes and diabetes) are excessive intake of calories in the form of carbohydrates, and insufficient exercise. In many situations, increased intake of calories, and the inability to find time for exercise and physical activities are also related to increased stress. The inability to exercise is unfortunate because exercise can decrease the exaggerated or excessive reaction to stress that causes the HPA and the SAS to secrete too much cortisol and epinephrine.
Your Glucose-Insulin System is affected by an excessive and exaggerated response to stress that causes too much cortisol and epinephrine, which can increase glucose levels, which can increase the risk of prediabetes and diabetes
Specific herbs in GlucoQuench™ have been shown to support the proper function HPA & SAS and modulate (tone down) the stress response. This modulation of the stress response will decrease the amount of adrenal cortical and medullary hormones that are released, and subsequently, decrease excessive blood sugar levels and its consequences.
 
Summary:
An exaggerated or excessive reaction to stress can cause the HPA and the SAS to secrete too much cortisol and epinephrine, which can cause excessive blood glucose and its consequences.
GlucoQuench™  contains herbs that can modulation of the stress response decrease the amount of adrenal cortical and medullary hormones that are released.

Note: See the Adrenal Health educational module for more detailed information on the Stress Response.
 
 
Reviewed & Updated: 07/20/2019