Blood sugar and cortisol – how are they related?

Well, as it turns out, cortisol is a stress hormone that does a lot of things to your body.

It works in conjunction with adrenaline and noradrenaline to increase your mental and physical abilities to deal with the stressor.

But if the stress keeps knocking on the door, then we have a problem.

The body stays flooded with cortisol.

And blood sugar rises too.

But why does this happen?

And what are the health implications of high blood sugar and cortisol?

Let’s find out.

Why Cortisol Rises Your Blood Sugar Levels

Cortisol, as we saw, is a stress hormone.

Your adrenal glands produce it from cholesterol.

As a stress hormone, cortisol releases when your body senses ‘danger’ or ‘threat’. (1)

Cortisol usually works in synergy with other stress hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine to make you faster, stronger, smarter essentially.

One of the ways cortisol is able to achieve this is by raising your blood glucose.

It taps into your protein reserves to make glucose in the liver. (2)

This allows for fast energy supply on demand.

What Happens When Your Cortisol Stays High

If you’re under constant stress, your cortisol levels will stay high.

And so will your blood sugar levels.

Can you guess the impact this has on your health?

Chronically high cortisol can lead to a host of diseases and health problems, including (3, 4):

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Mood disorders
  • Poor immune system

But this isn’t the only issue.

Another problem that chronically high cortisol can cause is insulin resistance.

What does this mean for you?

Stress and Insulin Resistance

If you’re always bombarded with stress, your body will numb itself to insulin, the hormone that essentially helps bring blood sugar levels down.

In other words, not only will your body produce more blood sugar, but the existing blood sugar won’t be absorbed in cells due to insulin resistance. (5)

Instead, it will stay floating in your blood.

Long-term, this puts a strain on your pancreas and other organs. And can lead to the health issues we mentioned above.

So what can you do to control stress and your blood sugar levels with it?

Below we explain exactly that.

How to Keep Cortisol At Bay

There are several ways you can help keep your cortisol levels under control.

Naturally, there’s 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:


Exercise is a proven way to reduce your stress levels. Not only does it promote the release of feel-good chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine. It also helps keep blood sugar and cortisol levels in control. Just make sure not to over-do it; short and intense exercises such as sprints work best. Too much exercise, on the other hand, can ironically raise cortisol. (6, 7, 8)


Meditation is one of the oldest methods of calming the body and the mind. When you’re calm, your cortisol levels stay low. This is important for keeping your blood sugar in the normal range, which in turn helps improve your overall health. (10)

Diet Hacks

Eating healthy and clean foods is important for keeping your blood sugar levels down. But it’s just as important to avoid junk food – think candy, burgers and fries, and white bread. All of these cause stress on the body and spike your blood sugar levels. Keeping your diet clean with plenty of lean protein, complex carbs, and good fats works wonder for keeping cortisol at bay – and your health in check. (9)

Nootropics For Stress

Another effective method of reducing your stress hormones and blood sugar is to take natural nootropics. Ingredients such as Rhodiola Rosea, phosphatidylserine, and bacopa monnieri are proven to naturally reduce stress levels, which in turn helps keep your blood sugar under control. The most effective nootropic formula currently available is Mind Lab Pro – you can read our full review of this stress-relieving nootropic here. (11)


Keeping your stress levels low will also help you maintain a healthy mind, and body.

See, stress hormones such as cortisol trigger the release of glucose into your bloodstream.

In addition, cortisol suppresses insulin, the hormone that lowers blood sugar.

If this stress becomes chronic, your cortisol stays elevated all the time, leading to poor blood sugar regulation and many other health problems such as diabetes type II, obesity, and mood swings.

There are several ways to tackle stress, these include:

  • Exercising (short and intense is the best)
  • Meditating
  • Eating a clean diet (avoid sugars and fast food, eat more healthy fats and protein)
  • Taking natural stress-relieving nootropics such as Mind Lab Pro.

Ideally, you’d want to combine all of these methods together. Taking nootropics on top of an already-healthy lifestyle is a powerful way to keep your blood sugar and cortisol levels under control.


  1. Physiology, Cortisol. (source)
  2. Cortisol — Its Role in Stress, Inflammation, and Indications for Diet Therapy. (source)
  3. Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation. (source)
  4. The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain–body communication. (source)
  5. Association between Higher Serum Cortisol Levels and Decreased Insulin Secretion in a General Population. (source)
  6. Exercise Benefits Brain Function: The Monoamine Connection. (source)
  7. The protective role of exercise on stress system dysregulation and comorbidities. (source)
  8. Cortisol, stress, and exercise. (source)
  9. Stress, Food, and Inflammation: Psychoneuroimmunology and Nutrition at the Cutting Edge. (source)
  10. Meditation: Process and effects. (source)
  11. Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review. (source)

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  • Raul T Rodriguez December 13, 2020

    Thanks for all the info. I sometimes do not understand many of the words to discribe the problems. I am an older man of 76 yrs. old and limited education but i try to understand. My sugar count is high and i think that the cortizone injection is the cause. Thanks Again

    • Jim Cates December 16, 2020

      You’re welcome Raul, thanks for letting us know!


  • Terri Towner December 6, 2022

    I wish that you would have written about how chronic low cortisol can affect your blood sugar, and the symptoms it causes. At first I thought my husband was low blood sugar because he had such severe symptoms but food did not take care of all of the symptoms. I had him try hydrocortisone and I had my husband back to normal in 30 minutes. I hate having to figure it all out by myself. My husband will not go to the doctor, and he really does not recognize what is going on with him. It is a very dangerous situation.