In a world of non-stop bombardment of information, being on the move, dealing with an onslaught of chemicals in our environment and in and on our bodies, poor diet and lack of sleep caused by all of the above, it's easy to see why our adrenal glands are under attack. Our stress levels, indeed our lives, have changed dramatically but our bodies really haven't. We are in a constant state of "fight or flight" unlike our ancestors who had the occasional need for bursts of adrenaline, were able to utilize that adrenaline, and then had periods of rest to recuperate. We keep going mach five with our hair on fire and wonder why we are exhausted all the time yet, when it is time to sleep, we are so wired we can't get the rest we need. As a result, our adrenal glands are on overdrive trying to balance the stress responses and, if the stress responses are left unchecked, burn out. As the adrenal glands become increasingly more exhausted, we end up with excess abdominal weight, decreased immunity, lack of concentration, irritability, disrupted sleep, and ultimately, pure exhaustion. For a woman in her child bearing years, this can also cause infertility as the body, under constant stress, is considered as being in a state of dis-ease. The body is a miraculous self-healing organism that willingly shuts down the reproductive system in order to protect the woman against being further depleted by pregnancy. So not only is this constant stress taking its toll on our adrenal glands, it is causing huge health issues that can ultimately lead to complete exhaustion, illness, and take away our inability to reproduce, all which cause even more stress. It is a vicious cycle.
So let's take a look at the adrenal glands. The adrenals are two tiny glands, the size of walnuts, that sit on top of your kidneys. They make hormones to help you handle stress and keep you healthy. They produce adrenaline, norepinephrine, (both of which put the body into a 'fight or flight' state) cortisol (a stress hormone responsible for regulating sugar in the body) , DHEA, aldosterone (regulates salt balance in the body), and secondary sex hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and more. The adrenal glands are responsible for survival, in essence. Your body wants to stay alive. It will "rob" other vital organs of nutrients needed by those organs to stay healthy and balanced in order to keep the adrenals going so the body can stay alive. In a constant state of stress the adrenals will "cannibalize" your body to ensure your safety.
Still with me? Below are some of the basic symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
- Low energy, feel wiped out all the time.
- Feeling overwhelmed by small things
- Even mild exercise causes stress and fatigue
- Fatigue not relieved by sleep, hard to get up in the morning
- Feeling "foggy"
- Poor digestion, chronic heartburn
- Craving salty, fatty, or sweet foods
- Need caffeine or sugar to get through the day
- Fungal infections
- Lower back pain
- Lack of will, no motivation
- Hair loss, premature aging
- Excessive fears, panic attacks
- Depression or a feeling of hopelessness
- Weight gain
- Having issues falling asleep or staying asleep
- Unexplained infertility
- Low libido
- Poor immune function
If you have three or more of the above symptoms you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue, exhaustion, or burnout. In this series, we will be looking at testing to diagnose adrenal burnout and how to detox and nourish your adrenals back to health through diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
Nourishing your adrenals with an alkaline, nutrient dense diet is a great first step to healthy adrenals. Vitamins like C, E and all B vitamins have important roles in the reactions that occur in the adrenal cascade. Minerals such as magnesium provides necessary energy for your adrenals — and every cell in your body — to function properly. Calcium and several trace minerals like zinc, manganese, selenium, and iodine provide calming effects in the body. These minerals can help to relieve the stress that accompanies and causes adrenal fatigue, which will ultimately lessen your cortisol output.
For a nourishing, adrenal boosting, and alkalizing lunch try our Corsican Quinoa Salad.