Coffee has become an important part of our daily lives. It’s used to wake us up in the morning, help us feel focused in the afternoon, and relax us at the end of the day.
Because of coffee’s popularity, we tend to think it is a good thing for us, which is why hearing a negative news about the effects of coffee on our health can be surprising.
You may have heard that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of heart disease. But does drinking a cup of coffee increase cortisol in your body?
The cortisol levels of coffee drinkers were higher than those of non-coffee drinkers, even though both groups had the same cortisol levels before the test.
Researchers have found that drinking coffee increases cortisol, a stress hormone, in young adults.
Caffeine is known to have an effect on stress and so the researchers wanted to test the effect of coffee on cortisol in young adults.
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, and is released in response to stress, anxiety, or other physical or psychological strain.
Its main function is to help the body respond to emergency situations by increasing blood sugar, increasing blood pressure, and generally stimulating the appropriate actions to keep us alive.
Cortisol has been called the body’s “stress hormone” or the “fat-storing hormone” for good reason. It’s a widely-known and well-studied chemical that plays a huge role in how we respond to stress.
In more ordinary circumstances, though, the body produces too much cortisol, and this condition is known as Cushing’s syndrome.
In fact, the level of cortisol in the body can be measured in the saliva, and it is often used as a test for how stressed or anxious a person is. It can also be used to predict the future in some situations.
But the stress response is often a good thing, and it can help protect the body against disease and other negative effects of stress.
Positive effects of cortisol
People respond to stress in different ways, and cortisol serves as a barometer of how the body is responding. Did you know this hormone also has an important place in the body?
Here’s positive effect :
- It is the primary hormone to regulate blood sugar levels, mood, and the immune system.
- Cortisol’s effects on the body are complex, but a huge part of its function is to regulate the body’s response to stress.
- Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released in response to stress such as exercised, emotional, sleep, and other types of stress.
- Cortisol also helps us to deal with stress, which helps us function better, which in turn helps us to perform better.
But, what happens when the stress is too much? What if your stress levels remain high? If your cortisol levels are high too much of the time, cortisol can have a negative effect on our health.
Negative effects of cortisol
Over the long term, chronic stress is never a good thing. It’s been associated with many negative health effects:
- Including higher blood pressure and heart disease, as well as serious mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
- Cortisol is also linked to weight gain, As it is released by your fat cells as a response to your body sensing that your energy supply is low.
- A number of studies have shown that cortisol can have a negative effect on mood, leading to feelings of depression, tiredness, and anxiety.
- It can also increase appetite, making it harder to lose weight.
- Whether it’s the cold weather, an exam, or a disagreement with a friend, when our cortisol levels spike, it can cause us serious physical discomfort.
How caffeine affects cortisol?
Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the nervous system. It is widely used to boost energy, improve mood, increase mental clarity, wake you up, and promote weight loss.
Although everyone agrees that caffeine is good, there is a lack of scientific understanding about how it works.
Since caffeine is a stimulant that affects the body’s endocrine system: it stimulates the production of adrenaline and other hormones which then affect the body’s nerve and muscle functions.
And cortisol is an important hormone in the regulation of metabolism, caffeine can affect metabolism through its effects on cortisol.
A study by Marcello et al, published in the “International Journal of Obesity”, found that caffeine consumption can affect cortisol levels.
How much coffee increases cortisol?
Caffeine is an addictive substance that helps you feel more awake than normal. It also helps you concentrate on tasks, and it can increase your endurance so that you are less likely to get tired.
However, caffeine is a stimulant, and too much of it can cause trouble. If you have a lot of caffeine in your system, your body may become stressed out.
When we are stressed, our cortisol levels rise, and as they rise, so does the amount of fat we store. Caffeine can cause your body to secrete more cortisol, which can make you feel stressed, and weaken the immune system.
Numerous studies have shown that caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it causes the body to rid itself of excess fluid.
One of the effects of this is increased cortisol levels, which could be behind the ‘crash’ many coffee drinkers experience after consuming a large cup (or two) of coffee.
So, how much coffee should you drink? There’s no definite answer, but if you’re a regular coffee drinker, keep in mind that the experts say that you should stay below 300 ml/day.
How can you lower cortisol levels ?
Do you ever feel over-exposed to cortisol? You know, the stress hormone that causes your body to store fat? This can lead to weight gain, sleep disruptions, and chronic fatigue: all of which can seriously disrupt your life.
The reason why cortisol is so sensitive to stress is because it is a very big stress hormone, which means it may be considered a hormone that is “on” all the time.
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, and when levels are elevated, it triggers a cascade of effects that can wreak havoc on your health, including making you feel tired, depressed and gaining weight.
The good news is, you can reduce your cortisol levels in a number of ways;
One of them is through exercise. Cortisol is a hormone that regulates our metabolism and internal balance. Elevated levels of cortisol can lead to weight gain and other adverse health effects.
To reduce the effects of cortisol, it is important to exercise and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. One of the most time-consuming activities that can help you reduce cortisol levels is strength training.
Strength training can improve your metabolism, help you sleep better, and help you maintain a healthy weight, regardless of your age.
2. Drink more water
It’s well established that, when it comes to health, too much of a good thing is never good. High cortisol levels can cause you to be short tempered, irritable and more likely to act in a rash way.
So, if your cortisol levels are elevated, you may want to consider how much water you are drinking – that is, if you want to maintain good health and tackle those cortisol levels.
3. Having a positive outlook on life
As we all know, cortisol is a bodily hormone that’s connected to stress, anxiety, and depression. In fact, one of the main symptoms of cortisol is irritability, and this has a significant impact on how we think, feel, and act.
When you have a stressful day at work, it’s easy to get annoyed and let that short-circuit your sense of humor, making you feel like you’re getting nowhere fast.
But even if you have a nasty manager at work, you can still find ways to make yourself smile, which can be crucial for your health and well-being.
The key to lowering cortisol levels (the stress hormone) is to find ways to smile and enjoy life.