Monday, October 4, 2010

The Coffee - Cortisol Connection

Coffee can be the most difficult addiction to overcome, – but should you?​

Aside from proven health benefits that include boosting cognitive brain function (in regular users), helping to protect against Alzheimers, and reducing the risk of colon cancer – there may be a villain lurking in your morning cup: Coffee, especially if taken to excess, weakens the adrenals by triggering the release of cortisol. According, to Jesse SulZer, MD Ph,D, it takes only one cup to stimulate cortisol. (See:

Known as the 'stress hormone,' cortisol activates the body's fight or flight response, when stress is filtered through the adrenal gland. When we activate the stress response chronically, like through the overuse of coffee, we weaken the adrenals. This happens because whether or not you're really running from a tiger, or just drinking too much coffee – cortisol is released in response to a message that you're in emergency mode, when the switch to store glucose as fat for reserves is triggered. In modern sedentary life, instead of using that glucose for energy, excess fat is created, the adrenals become exhausted, and we feel more fatigued, and even depressed. Worse still, high volumes of this hormone negatively affect your immune system, weakening your body’s power to resist infections.

In short-term studies, caffeine has also shown to increase insulin levels, reduce insulin sensitivity, in addition to increasing cortisol levels. The caffeine in coffee can also stimulate hunger by releasing more glucose into the blood stream, followed by a sharp drop in blood sugar.

To limit excess cortisol, it's best to take coffee in small amounts and ideally before exercise when it works to enhance performance, and helps to break down fat more efficiently. The stress-combating effects of exercise also offset the stressful effects inherent in the cortisol-coffee connection.

* Pub LMed. Gov. -

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