What Are The Adrenals and Why Are Fatigue And Stress So Damaging To Them?
The adrenals are glands that produce various hormones, including adrenaline, cortisol, and some precursors for the sex hormones. They sit above the kidneys, tiny little pea-like structures that work hard to keep us filled with a variety of hormones:
- Aldosterone - which helps regulate mineral balance in the body
- Cortisol, corticosterone, cortisone - controls the regulation of glucose metabolism
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (a precursor to testosterone, estrogen
- Epinephrine, norepinephrine - stimulates the sympathetic nervous system
Under normal conditions, the body can produce enough of these hormones and clear them out of your system easily. However, when it comes to fatigue and stress, the system can break down.
How Stress Causes Fatigue
We've all been there… you're driving along, and suddenly an animal jumps out in front of your car… you hear the boss start yelling… you get that phone call… Lots of things can cause stress and panic in our lives. Our bodies are designed to be able to take the stress and find ways to overcome it. This is where a reaction called "fight or flight" takes place. In that first moment where you have panic, your brain registers danger. The danger can come from any source, anything that you find particularly threatening. Instantaneously your nervous system sends the message that it's time to fight or run away. This is where your adrenal glands start working overtime. Primarily, cortisol and the other corticosteroids get dumped into your system in massive quantities. This gives your muscles the energy they need to fight or run. Your metabolism jumps up, endorphins become pumped out, and you're on edge waiting for that moment… Unfortunately, in today's society, we don't have the option to fight or run away. We have to stand there as the boss yells or we have to continue driving home after the animal continues on its way. We exist in a world where stress is a constant source of physical debility. Our adrenal system is continuously called upon to fight the stress, and like anything else that fights over and over and over, it gets worn out. Our bodies and mind are tired because of all the stress.
Four Things To Do Right Now
If your stressed and you can't get rid of it (we're sure you tried at least something), you are like most people. So, it's up to you to structure your life to help your body take care of what you normally are exposed to. You've seen the typical steps over and over, so we'll give you some new and unusual reasons to take care of your body.
This is perhaps the number one thing you could do: get a good night's sleep every night. Your body uses sleep to help heal and flush out the waste products and hormones from stress. Your brain does the same thing. Not only does your brain move short-term memories into long-term storage during sleep, but it helps rebalance the acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin in your brain so you can wake up feeling better. One new fascinating area of study takes a look at the glymphatic system. Discovered only six years ago, this is a microscopic channel system in the brain designed to flush out wastes and toxins. What made this system so difficult to detect is it only functions during sleep. By getting a good night's rest, you help your brain create better memories and clean itself out.
Eat Right – Healthy Fats
Fruits and vegetables are the staples of any healthy person's diet, as are healthy fats. Hormones are made of saturated and unsaturated fats, and a low-fat diet starves your body of the building blocks it needs to form proper hormones. (Not to mention the latest science shows saturated fats lower heart disease by lipoprotein-a (Lp(a)) and can raise HDL levels). Getting the right types of healthy fats is key. Choose from supplements, fruits and vegetables, and natural oil sources that include nut and seed oil, butter, and natural omega-3 fatty acids from fish and organic meat.
Cortisol, endorphins, and many of the other hormones are used up and counteracted during physical movement. They were designed to make us fight or run away, which burns off the hormones and restores balance. We can mimic that motion to help relieve the burden on our bodies. Getting 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three times a week helps flush your body of those hormones. Doing some form of exercise daily is even better.
If you are experiencing a lot of stress, choosing supplements can help give you extra fats and nutrients to help your body maintain its health. Many herbs and spices help your body function well and heal from damage. Choosing a good quality supplement that helps focus on clearing out your system for detoxification and building up your adrenals can help, especially if you experience large amounts of stress daily.
Ideally, you could arrange your life, so there is no stress. But, we know today's society seems to want tomstress us. Even as we experience these lockdowns and worry over illnesses, taking the time to take care of your body can help you feel better and live longer. Get a good night's sleep, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, exercise, and choose the right supplements.