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The intimate relationship between cortisol and acidosis

Stress is proven to negatively affect the acid-base balance in the body by increasing acid levels. However, when in an acidic state the body requires more cortisol to excrete the excess acid, which eventually can lead to subclinical acidosis and numerous health conditions.

The role of cortisol in acidity

The kidneys are integral for the constant excretion of excess acid. This increases ammonia production and excretion and requires glutamate for energy. These processes need glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, often above the amount required for normal protein metabolism. High cortisol levels impact the body in many ways, promoting a loss of minerals from the body and further increasing the acid load. The body can only assimilate minerals and nutrients properly when the acid/alkaline levels (pH) are balanced. Under acidic conditions, enzymatic processes may be hindered, and waste products and toxins can become trapped in the extra cellular matrix, leading to cell dysfunction and inflammation.

The negative effects of cortisol

It is proposed that chronic metabolic acidosis induced by cortisol excess may play a role in altered bone metabolism. Other detrimental effects of high cortisol on adults and children may include:

  • Muscle wasting
  • Increased fracture risk
  • Hypertension
  • Visceral obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Impaired cognition

Since cortisol promotes the development of visceral obesity and has a negative impact on insulin function, long term exposure to a high acid load diet has been linked to an increased risk for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.


Chris Sarandis


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