Everyone is busy these days. We have to run here and there and there’s barely any time for relaxation and eating right. The problem is that there is no end in sight. We get busier every day and it’s taking a toll on us. We sleep less, eat fast food and don’t take time to de-stress. Over time, this depletes our reserves and we just run out of gas!
The first reaction is to grab some caffeine, sugar or other food or drink to get us through the day. It’s easy and quick. The problem is that it is only temporary and in the long run it depletes us further. Our lack of sleep and erratic eating can cause symptoms like;
• Lack of vitality & energy
• Muscle & joint pain
• Migraine Headaches
• Poor Memory
• Sleep Disturbances
• Alcohol Intolerance
• Anxiety/Panic Attacks
• Low sex drive
• Chronic stress & other related health problems
It helps to understand the vicious cycle we can get into. We have two small glands that are located above the kidneys. These glands are small but control many things in our body. They are the adrenal glands. The outer zone, which is the biggest area, secretes adrenal steroids (Cortisol, DHEA and Aldosterone). These hormones aren’t secreted at a constant level throughout the day. They should be highest in the morning and then decrease throughout the day along with the circadian rhythm. An abnormal adrenal rhythm may influence many functions of the body like;
1. Energy: The ability of the cells to produce energy for activities of daily living can be affected. You can have a hard time rising in the morning (I’m one of those) or suffer with low energy during the day. This also can affect blood sugar regulation. This will affect your food choices, lifestyle and insulin activity.
2. Muscle & Joint Function: Reduced tissue repair and increased tissue breakdown can lead to muscle & joint breakdown with chronic pain.
3. Bone Health: The adrenal rhythm determines how well we build bone. If the night cortisol level is elevated and morning level is too high, our bones don’t rebuild well so we may be more prone to osteoporosis! Stress can be the enemy of our bones. After menopause, the effect of stress can worsen without the support of the female hormones.
4. Immune Health: The immune cells cycle in and out of the spleen and bone marrow and follows the cortisol cycle. If this cycle is dirrupted, especially at night, the immune system can be affected. Short and long term stress is known to suppress the immune response on the surfaces of our body. Secretory IgA is a surface antibody that can be reduced and our resistance to infection and allergic reactions may increase.
5. Sleep Quality: Our ability to enter REM sleep can be interrupted by high cortisol levels. Chronically, this lack of REM sleep can reduce the mental vitality of a person and may cause depression.
6. Skin Regeneration: Skin regeneration happens mostly at night. If cortisol is high then less skin regeneration may take place.
7. Thyroid Function: Our level of cortisol at the cell level controls thyroid hormone production. It may be then that hypothyroid symptoms like fatigue & low body temperature are due to adrenal issues.
8. Grain Intolerance & Stress: A lot of people suffer from a genetic intolerance to some grains. The gut becomes inflamed within a short time of consuming the grains and this can lead to an adrenal stress response, increased cortisol and reduced DHEA. You may not feel any symptoms which over time can lead to chronic inflammation in your gut and digestive issues.
So, what can we do to get our energy back? As you can see there are many things that can contribute to low functioning adrenal glands. The adrenal glands can produce too much cortisol causing a lot of problems like extra belly fat, low energy, hormonal imbalances and other chronic health issues. Reaching for sugar, fast food and caffeine are temporary fixes that in the long run cause more health issues and can be very taxing on the adrenal glands. I always think that it’s good to figure out what’s going on in our body because we are all bio-individual. Then we can determine the best way to deal with our own issues one step at a time until we have more energy, balance our weight and feel good!
There is a way to do testing through saliva to determine what is going on with your own individual cortisol levels tested four times throughout the day. I like having a road map to determine what may be causing low energy levels and other issues like digestive problems. Learning what foods you may be sensitive too, balancing blood sugar, reducing stress and having a plan for life can help assure you that you will once again, in time, have the energy and vitality you need to get through your busy life. I have seen the results time and time again by simple testing and lifestyle changes to get you on the road to wellness. You may even learn to stop and smell the roses!
Karen Russell, Certified Health Coach (As seen on Lifetime T.V.)
Recipe 4 Wellness (Offices in New Philadelphia & Canton)