Importance of Adrenal Health & The Stress FactorAugust 4, 2012
You’re stressed out. You cant get your day started without caffeine, and you can’t be satisfied until you get a high carb snack. This however, leaves you so wired that at the end of the day you cant even sleep. The cycle repeats. Whether it be you or someone you know (I’m sure you know a friend or two), it’s the typical profile of someone who suffers from adrenal gland issues. The adrenal glands (a.k.a. suprarenal glands) are hormonal glands that sit right on top of your kidneys on your lower back. They are responsible for releasing hormones in response to stress, such as the stress hormone cortisol, the fight or flight hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, and steroid hormones (i.e estrogen, testosterone). The adrenal glands also help to maintain electrolytes, salt and water balance, and the metabolism of carbohydrates by regulating blood sugar.
You should be aware by now that mental and emotional stress can have a negative effect on the body and contribute to the development of dis-ease. If your nutritional profile is not looking good on top of being extra stressed, then the body is even less able to endure an added workload. But don’t worry, there’s good news for you and your oh so special adrenal glands that influence and fuel your moods, thoughts, and passions. But before we cut the raw vegan cheesecake, here’s a little breakdown of how the adrenal glands work for you.
The adrenal glands have two parts: the medulla and the cortex. The Medulla secretes the fight or flight hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine) which work to increase metabolism to adapt to stress; the cortex adjusts natural sugar metabolism and regulates steroid hormone levels of estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and aldosterone. If you’re stressed out, the adrenal glands can become exhausted of hormones leaving you feeling tired, alter your weight, and create all sorts of uncomfortable and, well, kinda strange changes.
Some common symptoms of adrenal gland dysfunction are:
- An under active adrenal gland (Addison’s disease).This is characterized by discoloration of the skin, darkening of the skin on the knees, genital area, mouth, elbows, skin folds, dark creases in the hand, decreased body hair, loss of appetite, mood swings, dizziness or fainting, inability to cope with stress and nausea, and feeling uneccesarily cold all the time. Also includes chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, and weight loss.
- An overactive adrenal gland (Cushings Disease). This is characterized by weight gain in the upper body (but with thin limbs), muscle weakness, dark spots on the face, and swollen eyelids. If you’re adrenal glands are overactive, you may compromise your immune system and have a greater tendency to get ill. This also show up as inappropriate hair growth on the face in women, pink or purple stretch marks on the skin of the abdomen, thighs, breasts and arms, fragile skin that bruises easily, and acne. Not so cute.
Foods and vitamins/minerals that enhance and support adrenal gland function: Vitamin B Complex – supports function, Vitamin C – protects nervous system, Potassium – stabilizes nerves, Chlorophyll – purifies the blood and increases oxygen to cells. You can also eat broccoli, cantaloupe, cranberries, celery, cucumbers, endives, garlic, guava, citrus fruits, peaches, pears, strawberries, raspberries, or jackfruit. All of these fruits, along with some other supplements and herbs all work to support, protect, and maintain the function of your adrenal glands. The hormones require a delicate balance in order to maintain properly, so make sure you get plenty of the foods listed and if needed, supplementation.
We live in a stressed out, fast paced, and overworked society; it’s no surprise that many people find themselves burnt out from time to time from coping with the madness. When we administer mind body medicine such as meditation and affirmations, we give our bodies permission to be at peace and our hormonal state only naturally becomes a reflection of that. Neglecting to do so, and remaining uninformed on how to nourish ourselves optimally will cause imbalances and the possibility of developing a chronic condition. So make sure to do yourself and everyone else a favor today: eat your fruits and veggies and take a chill pill! -XoXo Nicola signing in for Raw Girl