Stress Hormone - The Down Low

Stress Hormone - The Down Low
Adrenal Fatigue seems to be the latest talked about syndrome that is becoming more present and understandable in 21st century life. We are overloaded by information, constantly stimulated by technology and have very little time to relax. Being stressed is almost like a badge of honour, especially in London! Your adrenal (stress) glands have to deal with this and, understandably, sometimes they give up.

The adrenal glands, are small glands that sit right on top of the kidneys. Their main functions are:
Manage the body’s blood sugar balance
Handle stress (physical, emotional, and mental)
Release of steroids to reduce inflammation due to injury or infection
Manage the body’s fluid balances of sodium and potassium

So how do you know if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue?
Are these familiar?
Feel constantly tired, even after sleep
Struggle to deal with anxiety or mild depression.
Suffer from ‘brain fog’ or the inability to do basic daily tasks
Have multiple food intolerances
Fail to function without a caffeinated drink such as coffee or coca cola
Gaining weight around your middle
Crave salty food or need to snack often to maintain blood sugar

Then you may be suffering from Adrenal fatigue. Other names include Non-Addison’s or Sub-clinical Hypoadrenia, Adrenal Neurasthenia or Adrenal Apathy [1].

Stress is one major cause of Adrenal fatigue. Other causes could be smoking, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, environmental toxins, grief or excessive alcohol or stimulants such or coffee.

Your adrenal glands produce Adrenalin known as your stress or ‘fight or flight’ hormone. They also produce a large selection of other hormones essential for keeping the body working. Cortisol is very important as it maintains the strength of the immune system, regulates blood sugar and blood pressure [3]. Aldosterone is also produced in the adrenal glands and is responsible for regulating fluid loss and the re-absorption of sodium and electrolytes.  Low levels of Aldosterone can lead to increased urination and a craving of salt.
As you can see, the effects of high levels of stress over a long period can also contribute to the development of a wide range of physical symptoms ranging from aching joints, chronic neck and back pain through to headaches and dizziness.

Some easy ways to start caring for your adrenal glands are as follows:
Nervous system
o      Get your spine and nervous system checked
o Avoid known food sensitivities or intolerances. DO NOT skip breakfast and definitely do not replace with caffeine. 
o Eat plenty of high quality protein, some good fats (avocado, nuts) and plenty of fruit and veg (try to eat organic where possible). Here’s a list of the top fruit and vegetables you should always have organic – Dirty Dozen, Filthy Fifteen 
o Drink at least 2 litres of water a day.
o Take time for yourself regularly; listen to music, go for a walk, get creative and try painting, chat to a friend, dance.
o Try to avoid technology for at least an hour before bed.
o Meditate, even if it’s just for 5mins a day. There are some great apps around such as Headspace or Calm.
o If your adrenal fatigue is significant then high intensity exercise may be inappropriate as this may put more stress on your body. Try more low impact exercise such as walking, swimming and yoga - great for combating fatigue, relaxing you long-term and improving your overall fitness level.

Recovery could take between 6-18 months depending on the severity of the problem and the length you have been suffering from adrenal fatigue. Another important note: the physical symptoms mentioned earlier such as tension headaches and back pain can be improved by seeing a chiropractor [4]. 

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