Is your life stress free? (“Who are you kidding?” you’re asking, right?) Did you know that stress accumulated over a period of time combined with a nutrient-poor diet can create something called adrenal exhaustion? Well, adrenal exhaustion means more than just feeling tired all the time, although that is a big indicator that things are out of balance.
The adrenal glands are two little glands that sit on top of your kidneys, and they help you to respond to life and all of its stresses in a variety of ways through the hormones that they produce. The main hormones that the adrenals produce are Cortisol, Norepinephrine (also called adrenaline), and DHEA. Cortisol increases appetite and energy and also calms down the body’s allergy and inflammatory responses. Ideally, Cortisol is released on an occasional basis. However, if the adrenal glands become stressed, Cortisol levels become high, and this can have undesirable effects, such as weight gain, fluid retention, lowered immunity, and decreased ability to build protein. Norepinephrine (or adrenaline) is known as the fight-or-flight hormone. It prepares you for battle by increasing your heart rate, sending blood to large muscle groups, and increasing your tolerance for pain. However, when daily stress becomes a constant battle, the body overdraws Norepinephrine so that when it is really needed, there is not enough available to respond to the situation. DHEA is an androgen produced by the adrenals that helps the body make testosterone as well as help the body recover from elevated levels of Cortisol and Epinephrine. When the adrenal glands become seriously exhausted, they are no longer able to produce enough DHEA for support. The result of all this stress is relentless fatigue, depression, memory problems, recurrent infections, headaches, insomnia, loss of interest in sex, and dependence on or cravings for caffeine and sugar.
If adrenal exhaustion is affecting you, it is time to restore adrenal health so that they can make the proper amount of their hormones, and you can feel energized and balanced even in times of stress. Here are just a few tips: Eat healthy, whole foods high in nutrition and with minimal sugar. Get plenty of sleep to balance adrenaline levels. Exercise regularly. Expose yourself to natural sunlight. Focus on positive thoughts. Prioritize, and take time to recharge your adrenal batteries by doing something fun!