Adrenal Health

Are you tired from lack of sleep and everyday stress? Or could it be something more like adrenal fatigue?

Many do not realize the connection between properly functioning adrenal glands and other health systems. There is a direct correlation between the cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and hypoglycemia. Ill-functioning adrenals can lead to many health complications.

The adrenals are small triangular glands that sit above each kidney. The sole purpose is to produce hormones that regulate the body’s immune system, metabolism, blood pressure, libido, and helps control the body’s response to stress. If you have ever heard of the “fight or flight” modes, this is controlled by the adrenal glands. A poorly functioning adrenal system can attribute to your autonomic nervous system being blocked or switched.

The adrenal glands regulate the production of cortisol, aldosterone, epinephrine, and noradrenaline (norepinephrine). Cortisol is the hormone needed to control how your body uses fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and reduces inflammatory reactions. Aldosterone controls blood volume and pressure by regulating sodium and potassium levels in the blood. Epinephrine is your “fight or flight” hormone. A release of epinephrine causes your heart to beat faster and increases blood flow to both the brain and muscles. Epinephrine also helps the body turn sugars into fuel quickly.  Now, Noradrenaline (Norepinephrine) constricts the blood vessels and helps to maintain your blood pressure in stressful situations.

Now, what is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue, also known as adrenal insufficiency, is the result of your adrenals improperly functioning. This is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Adrenal fatigue often presents as a strange sensation such as heart palpitations, the feeling of weakness or shakiness, and mood swings.

It can also present as

  • Ongoing fatigue,
  • Hypoglycemia,
  • Abdominal pain,
  • GI problems,
  • Change in appetite,
  • Change in moods, such as depression or irritability,
  • Salt cravings,
  • Muscle weakness

Having too little cortisol can be fatal if ongoing adrenal fatigue is not treated. Those with an autoimmune deficiency can be more at risk. The most common form of adrenal insufficiency is Addison’s Disease. With Addison’s Disease, a crisis may present symptoms of a stroke. These include weakness, slurred speech, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and chronic fatigue.

What can you do to help reset and heal your adrenals?
The best thing you can do is to rest. Your body needs both adequate and regular sleep. (Click here for more information to help improve your sleep) Most adults need 7-12 hours of good sleep for their bodies to rest and recharge. A great way to reset your internal alarm clock and help heal your adrenals is to turn off your physical alarm clock. Allow your body to naturally fall asleep and wake on its own for a couple of days to restore the natural circadian rhythm.

Do not be surprised, but gentle exercise is also a great way to help heal your adrenals. Not only will exercise offer a release of endorphins, but it can also relieve stress, lower blood pressure, and help to prevent illness. Getting outside to spend time in the fresh air can help to reduce stress and improve mental clarity. Taking a brisk walk outside can be a great way to do just that, as gentle exercise, stress reduction, and getting outside are all recommended to help your adrenals heal. Taking a few minutes to exercise outside can be a trifecta reset for your adrenals.

Another important factor is diet. A poor diet can affect all your organ systems. You should avoid foods high in sugar and excess fats. A well-balanced diet rich in both fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats is a great way to help your body heal. This will also leave you feeling more energized and help provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Another great addition to your diet is herbal teas. They can be nutritive and energizing. Evening blends with Chamomile may also offer a more natural remedy to help improve your ability to fall asleep.

If you would like to have your adrenal function tested or know someone who could benefit from it, please call our office at 507-333-5388 or ask at your next appointment.