Well we’ve all heard of the “6-letter S word” – STRESS. We all deal with it to some degree in our lives – whether it be major lifestyle stressors or small day-to-day stress.
Do you ever wonder – what effect is all of this stress having on my body?
Well to answer that question would take more than just one blog post. (Look forward to WAY more information on stress management and how to find a balance!). We’ll focus this discussion on how stress impacts 2 tiny little organs (your adrenal glands) that sit on top of your kidneys.
Your adrenal glands are responsible for managing quite a few things in your body including your stress response, your weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and your immune system. When we’re exposed to stress (whether it be our job, money, family, relationships) our adrenal glands secrete hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline in order to help us properly recover from that stress. What ends up happening is that the chronic stress that we keep experiencing sends our adrenals into overdrive – leading to elevated blood sugar and insulin levels. If this continues for too long it can lead to insulin resistance (think diabetes) and weight gain (think belly fat). We also get intense cravings for fat, sugar, salt, and stimulants like caffeine. (Sound familiar??)
Eventually our adrenals get tired of working so hard – which is when adrenal fatigue sets in. Which ends up wreaking havoc on our immune and digestive systems. Prolonged adrenal fatigue can interfere with the precious balance of our other hormone systems as well. (Look for more info on this to come!
HERE ARE THE MOST COMMON SIGNS OF ADRENAL FATIGUE:
• difficulty sleeping even though your exhausted
• not waking rested even when you do sleep
• you get irritable more quickly than in the past
• cravings for refined sugars, carbohydrates, fat, salt, and caffeine
• afternoon fatigue – you get tired around 3-4pm most afternoons
• weight gain – especially around the belly
• mood disturbances – your feeling more anxious or possibly more sad than normal
• hormonal issues – irregular cycles, fertility problems, PMS, etc
• memory changes or difficulty concentrating
• digestive changes
Stress and adrenal fatigue affect everyone differently – you may be experiencing some or all of these symptoms.
How do you know FOR SURE if you have adrenal fatigue?
Most often we can assume from the above symptoms (and diet/lifestyle factors) that your adrenal glands need some support. However a Salivary Cortisol Hormone Panel can give us a pretty accurate idea of what is going on with your cortisol levels. The panel will test your cortisol levels are four points throughout the day - which allows us to see where your cortisol levels peak and dip (which plays an important role in how we treat).
There are MANY different ways to treat adrenal fatigue.
COMING UP IN THE NEXT BLOG I'LL DISCUSS...
A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE ADRENAL TREATMENTS…