Integrated Health Center
of Inland Empire
of Inland Empire
Just this month, a new study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association connecting stress to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. However, this time the focus was shifted away from the well-known hormone, cortisol, to a hormone that has long been linked to hypertension and heart disease.
People with elevated levels of the blood pressure-increasing hormone, aldosterone, are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
This is groundbreaking because it means that, for many people, having high blood pressure is an early warning that diabetes is around the corner. Moreover, this novel finding offers new ways to prevent and treat diabetes by targeting aldosterone to restore blood sugar balance. This is what you need to know.
Chronic stress is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. When the body experiences psychological or physical stress, the hypothalamus gland in the brain signals the pituitary gland to release ACTH. That hormone tells the adrenal glands to release glucocorticoids like cortisol and aldosterone to prep the body to respond to stressful stimuli.
This stress response pathway is called the HPA axis. Previous research has shown that early-life trauma and ongoing stress can tax this hormonal system and cause dysfunction that leads to an improper release of stress hormones. These imbalances increase the risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, autoimmunity, and cancer.
The correlation between stress and disease has long been blamed on a consistently imbalanced production of cortisol, which increases inflammation throughout the body and fat storage around the midsection. Inflammation causes damage to insulin receptors, reducing the body’s ability to metabolize glucose and elevating blood sugar levels. When glucose can’t be used for fuel, it is stored as fat, especially around the waistline. This fat storage perpetuates the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
While we have long known that cortisol and stress are linked to inflammation and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, aldosterone has been ignored.
Many diabetics can no longer break down whole grains and use the carbs effectively. The American Diabetes Association even admits that low-carb diets, which would nix grains altogether, might be a smarter option for those with diabetes.
One thing about type 2 diabetes that may not be common knowledge is that many individuals with type 2 diabetes have an underlying autoimmunity that is to blame for their disease progression.
While cortisol is busily packing in the fat and increasing inflammation, stress causes the adrenal glands to produce and release too much aldosterone. Aldosterone has long been linked to an increased risk of heart disease due to its ability to increase blood pressure resulting in damage to blood vessels, but this study drew aldosterone out of the shadows for diabetes risk as well. Alongside its ability to increase blood pressure, aldosterone reduces insulin sensitivity in muscle cells and insulin production from the pancreas. This means that stress causes a double whammy on your health, prompting cortisol and aldosterone to interfere with inflammation, glucose metabolism, insulin production, and sensitivity.
One of the most powerful aspects of our approach is how we use cutting-edge testing to identify early warning signs like these. The body is complex, but with the right testing, it’s much easier to catch the imbalances that will eventually lead to disease. Whether you’re already battling diabetes, or you’re concerned with symptoms of chronic stress, high blood pressure, weight gain, or inflammation, you can stop disease in its tracks and turn the tide on your health. Don’t let stress turn you into a victim of chronic disease.