On top of our kidneys sit triangular shaped structures called our adrenal glands. These little glands play a huge role in our bodies. They are known as our “stress glands” because they secrete hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) to help us respond to stress. When we experience constant stress- whether it be physiological or emotional, our adrenal glands have to work harder. Then they start to secrete our stress hormones in overdrive which may contribute to symptoms such as insomnia, weight gain and inability to lose weight, blood sugar and blood pressure disorders as well as some of the symptoms listed above. Once our adrenals have had enough of putting out so much stress hormone, they get tired and tend to slow down. This lack of hormonal secretion can also deeply affect out lives, causing similar symptoms to those above as well as symptoms such as fatigue, depression, salt cravings and headaches.
If you are experiencing some of the symptoms above, your adrenal glands may need a little bit of support. Talk to your Holistic Health Care Provider about ways to test for adrenal hormone imbalances as well as ways to treat them.
Here are a few basic things you can do in your life to help keep those adrenals happy:
1. Stress Management: this is absolutely essential in treating the adrenals, more important than any herb, supplement or medication. Becoming aware of life’s stressors and taking action is one of the best things you can do for yourself. This may mean slowing down, counseling, yoga, meditation, biofeedback, energy work, massage, getting to bed earlier, journaling, tai chi- anything that feels right for you. Start by choosing 1 thing that you know helps with your stress levels and make it your goal to turn into action at least one time per week.
2. Blood Sugar Balance: Blood sugar regulation and adrenal health go hand in hand. This is why it is important to aim to manage your blood sugar through diet and supplementation if warranted. Blood sugar balancing foods include high protein foods and non-starchy vegetables. Aim to have protein with every meal and plenty of vegetables throughout the day. Avoid excess fruit and grains at breakfast to prevent pre-lunch hypoglycemia
3. Avoid Stimulants: Avoid excess caffeine, nicotine and energy drinks that can overwork the adrenals and increase symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Coffee is especially important to go easy on, as it depletes many essential nutrients and minerals which can contribute to adrenal dysfunction
4. Sleep in the Dark!! This sounds simple but it is a key player in adrenal health. Even tiny amounts of light such as from the alarm clock or shining in from the windows, can decrease melatonin production, disrupt our circadian rhythms and throw off other hormone imbalances.
5. Green Power Foods: Green power foods such as spirulina, wheat grass, wakami, nori and other seaweeds help build the blood and increase energy. They are also super rich in vitamins and nutrients especially the B vitamins so not only help prevent deficiencies but also help tonify the adrenal glands
Blog post by: Dr. Sarah Anne Rothman, ND
** The content of this blog is for informational purposes only. Please consult with your health care practitioner before taking any supplements or health care advice**Image courtesy of BingBing