October 24, 2013
1 min read

Higher carbohydrate intake may increase intracellular cortisol

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Macronutrients stimulated a postprandial rise in circulating cortisol in lean, healthy men, according to researchers in the United Kingdom.

Plasma cortisol appeared to increase similarly after all macronutrient meals were compared with placebo, according to data. The carbohydrate meal stimulated adrenal secretion and extra-adrenal regeneration of cortisol in a similar way.

“These observations provide a novel insight into the complexity of circadian control of glucocorticoid secretion,” researchers wrote.

Eight lean, healthy men aged 23.5 years were randomly assigned to three different liquid isocaloric single macronutrient meals (carbohydrate, protein or fat) to test the contribution of peripheral cortisol regeneration to macronutrient-induced circadian variation of plasma control, according to data.

“Following the carbohydrate meal, plasma cortisol rose compared with placebo (P<.05),” researchers wrote.

Furthermore, protein and fat meals stimulated adrenal cortisol secretion more so than extra-adrenal cortisol regeneration.

“Following the high protein meal, plasma cortisol rose compared with placebo (P<.05) and similarly to the rise following carbohydrate,” researchers wrote.

Increased cortisol production by 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 appeared parallel to the increased insulin levels, according to data. However, the postprandial rise in cortisol was not due to decreased cortisol clearance, they added.

“These data predict that intrahepatic glucocorticoid levels are particularly amplified by meals with high carbohydrate content,” researchers wrote.

Disclosure: One of the researchers reports being an inventor of relevant patents held by the University of Edinburgh.