Cortisol, a stress hormone, gives us energy. This major hormone keeps us alive thanks to its three essential and powerful properties: it increases blood sugar levels (and thus energy levels), raises blood pressure, and neutralizes inflammation. But how did cortisol get impaired by our modern diet? The answer is excess sugar. Sugar, fruit juices, and just about anything else sweet releases sugar quickly into the bloodstream. That doesn’t just impair insulin; it also has a negative effect on cortisol. Our bodies are not designed to deal with sugar overloads.

Affects of unbalanced cortisol levels: Insulin Secretion.Today, cortisol is called upon each time your sugar levels plummet after you eat a cookie, drink soda, or consume any other sugary food or drink. This creates chronic high levels of cortisol, causing insulin secretion, and eventually insulin resistance - when you are insulin resistant or have too much insulin, you become fat.

Depression. If you have excess cortisol in your bloodstream, this shuts down serotonin. When serotonin levels drop, depression can result. Depression is now on the rise nationally, even in children.

Insomnia. Excess cortisol reduces your production of the sleep hormone melatonin - a drop in melatonin leads to insomnia. Hello, Ambien! If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t make enough HGH, the hormone that keeps you fit and young, since it is produced mostly during sleep. It’s no wonder we are so sick—excessive sugar, poor sleep, and stress are constantly traumatizing us.

Fatigue. If all the sugar and stress increases the demand on your adrenals too many times, they can eventually burn out. When the adrenals don’t make enough cortisol, you may look tired or have dark circles underneath your eyes. You’re also less likely to be able to cope with stressful situations, and you may experience panic or anxiety attacks. If your doctor puts you on an anti-anxiety medication, that can even make you gain weight.