When your adrenals are healthy they produce the correct level of cortisol. Cortisol is often called the “stress hormone” as it is usually released by our body in times of stress – think of that adrenalin rush we get when we’re in a flight-or-fight mode.
More often than not, we are told that we need to reduce our levels of cortisol. However this can be problematic for someone suffering from an autoimmune disease, especially a thyroid problem. Correctly functioning adrenals and thus good cortisol levels, neither too high nor too low, are essential to healthy thyroid function. Cortisol raises your cellular level of glucose which works with your cell receptors, ATP (our energy source) and mitochondria to receive T3 from the blood into the cells (you can read more about how to test your cortisol levels here).
When an autoimmune disease is severe, any small changes in cortisol levels can have a detrimental effect on how we feel. Furthermore, foods that are often touted as healthy, can actually further lower our cortisol levels and make us feel even worse!
This is the case for many adaptogens. In particular matcha, licorice root, maca powder and ginseng can actually work against us by lowering cortisol. So whilst these foods are often categorised as “superfoods”, they can do more harm than good!