Can you relate with some (or most) of these symptoms?
• Inability to maintain steady energy levels throughout the day - reliance on refined carbs and caffeine
• Fatigue (lack of energy in the morning, even after a full night’s sleep)
• Tired but wired feeling, poor sleep (difficulty winding down or staying asleep)
• Amenorrhea, light or irregular periods, worsening PMS
• Dark circles under the eyes
• Brain fog and forgetfulness – ADD, scattered thoughts, inability to focus on one task for long
• Fertility issues – difficulty getting pregnant
• Unexplained hair loss
• Sensitivity to light or difficulty seeing at night
• Cravings for salt and/or sugar
• Weight gain in the mid-section
• Low tolerance for stress and easily irritated: high anxiety, panic attacks
• Poor immunity – high incidence of colds and flu; chronic infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, yeast)
• Light-headedness or dizziness upon standing up
• Dry, unhealthy skin with excess pigmentation, adult acne
· Lack of libido or no libido, cystic breasts
If these signs and symptoms sound all too familiar, you could be suffering from adrenal fatigue or cortisol dysfunction.
The adrenal glands are small endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys. The adrenal glands are your body’s first line of defense against the stresses of daily living - they give orders to the reproductive organs, play a role in thyroid function and metabolism, and regulate the fight-or-flight stress response.
Cortisol is the main stress hormone made in your adrenal glands and it’s designed to get you out of danger. When you’re in a stressful situation, you feel the positive effects of cortisol – the rise of energy, the sharp focus, the charge.
Cortisol has three main jobs: raise blood sugar (to feed muscles so you can run or fight), raise blood pressure, and modulate immune function.
There are two key points about a healthy stress response that need to be emphasized: First, it takes priority over all other metabolic functions in the body and second, it wasn’t designed to last very long.
There are two types of stress – external stress and internal stress. External sources of stress could be a demanding job, relationship turmoil, or living in a polluted city. Internal sources of stress include poor eating habits, skipping meals, or reliance on caffeine. When you skip meals or consume something that doesn’t work for your metabolism – sugar, caffeine, refined flour products – or you have extreme amounts of external stress, your adrenals over-produce cortisol and its levels rise in your body.
If this were to happen once or twice a month it would be okay, but for most of us it happens every single day with absolutely no let-up. This eventually leads to what is known as the “cortisol switch”, where your body not only recognizes the positive aspects of cortisol, but starts recognizing the negative aspects of cortisol, too.
When we are chronically stressed, we use cortisol faster than it can be produced and this leads to low pregnenolone and low progesterone. Pregnenolone is a naturally occurring hormone created first in a line of other hormones in the adrenal glands. Progesterone is a fertility hormone that is created after pregnenolone. However, production of pregnenolone is greatly affected by stress levels, so if you live in a state of chronic stress, it’s likely that your pregnenolone levels will diminish, which also affects the production of progesterone. This why long periods of stress are so detrimental to a woman’s menstrual cycle and fertility.
Increased cortisol and decreased pregnenolone are also linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, increased belly fat, depression, insomnia, loss of sex drive, and fertility problems. It’s a scientific fact that fat cells in the belly have four times more cortisol receptors compared to fat cells elsewhere; so, your muffin top just keeps growing as your cortisol climbs and stays high. This stress and ultimate burnout of the adrenal glands is known as Adrenal Fatigue or Dysfunction.
If the adrenals are constantly over-worked every day for years on end, the entire endocrine system becomes deficient and stops functioning properly. This is why the food you eat, and proper stress management is CRUCIAL to begin healing your hormonal imbalances. Once your adrenal function is restored, cortisol production is reduced, and your adrenals resume normal function and production of hormones.
Steps to support your adrenal health:
1. Support yourself nutritionally
2. Know the correct supplements to take for your adrenals and kidneys
3. Self-care practices (prioritize commitments, let go of the struggle, sleep, handle your stress response, ask for help, keep your friends and loved ones on speed dial, etc.)
Want to know more about adrenal health and hormonal imbalances? Let’s chat- email me at Danielle@DoctorBeneFIT.net and we can set up a time to talk on the phone.
OR check out my hormonal health programs…
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