Adrenal Fatigue and Stress
We live in incredibly stressful times. The economy is horrible. Jobs are hard to come by. The middle class hasn’t had a raise in 30 years. The cost of food, water, gas, and electricity all continue to rise. We are eating an unprecedented level of processed foods. To deal with this stress, your adrenal glands release specific hormones that allow us to survive stressful situations. The problem is that our adrenal glands are designed to sprint, but we expect them to run a marathon. Because we are increasingly under prolonged stress, our adrenal glands become fatigued and worn out. This has unfortunate side effects, which include exhaustion, weight gain, and loss of sex drive.
The greatest stress our ancestors would have undergone was famine. We don’t think about this today because we live with such abundance, but to this day, the greatest stressor on our bodies is arguably hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). You have to understand that we have amazing genes that have allowed us to survive ice ages. Stress is not something new to the human species. So, when your boss is yelling at you and you’re paying the bills late, your body interprets this as starvation. That’s right, when your body is under stress, it thinks it is going to starve to death because that is what happened to our ancestors. This is important because certain hormones, especially cortisol (I am sure everyone has heard about the cortisol belly), are triggered while under stress that keep your blood glucose levels up, make your body store for winter (put on fat), and retain critical minerals. When you think about stress this way, it makes perfect sense that stress may cause you to gain weight and make it hard to shed it.
Stress lowers your sex drive. This happens because it would be foolish to reproduce when there is a shortage of food. When under stress a hormone called androstenidione displaces testosterone on cell receptor sites. Displaced testosterone means low sex drive! There is a great logic to the way the body operates.
So what can we do about this? Personally, I have found meditation and yoga to be helpful in dealing with psychological stress. There are several places here in North County that teach yoga. I personally use a DVD at home produced by “The Biggest Loser” called Weight Loss Yoga. It is nice because it is set up to take you through 3 levels of increasing difficulty at your pace. If you want to learn to meditate you can get a free lesson at http://zmm.mro.org/teachings/meditation-instructions/. Obviously, this is Zen-based, but the lesson is secular. If you want to get personal training in meditation, I got my training at the Shambhala Center. Just to let you know, this program does teach some tenets of Buddhism and is not secular. It is an excellent introduction to meditation though. Now if all that seems too complicated, I would recommend just taking a walk. We are very close to the Daley Ranch which has wonderful trails for people of all health/fitness levels. Taking a walk in the local hills has always made me feel calm and sleep better.
Our Diet plays a key role in causing adrenal fatigue as well as increasing our risk for diabetes and heart disease. We are living in a time of unprecedented access to not just food, but highly refined/processed food. Eating processed (let’s just call it sugar) food initially causes a large influx of sugar into your bloodstream. Your body responds by dumping huge amounts of insulin into your bloodstream. This is not a precise reaction and the body usually overcompensates, leading to low blood sugar. That’s right, high blood sugar leads to low blood sugar. Your adrenal glands think you are starving to death and try to stabilize your blood sugar. The end result is that your adrenal glands are overworked and all of that sugar you just ate gets turned into fat because your body still thinks you are going to die of starvation. As a bonus, one of the side effects to low blood sugar is activating the hunger reflex. This makes you feel hungry even though you just ate a whole meal. By eating again, you put yourself right back on the blood sugar/adrenal fatigue rollercoaster. It’s really depressing if you think about it.
We have found that a low glycemic/ low carbohydrate diet is the key to getting your blood sugar issues under control. We recommend the Page Diet, or in more extreme cases, the Dukan Diet to address blood sugar and high triglyceride/cholesterol problems. No pill alone will address these issues. Making these changes are so important to your health, I won’t take someone on as a patient unless they are ready to make these changes to their diet. I have to tell you, I have seen people get their blood sugar and cholesterol issue under control in as little as two weeks when they follow these recommendations.
If what I have said here makes sense to you and you are ready to make a change in your health, I recommend that you make an appointment to get a nutritional evaluation at our office. We will identify food allergies, immune challenges, nutritional deficiencies, and then put you on a diet and vitamin protocol designed specifically for you.
Recommended Supplements for Stress:
1. Drenamin: This is our most basic broad spectrum adrenal gland support product. This may be the most prescribed supplement in my office.
2. Min-Chex: This is our basic emotional stress support product. This is the product I recommend when you feel emotionally exhausted. I will sometimes recommend Orchex which is like Min-Chex only stronger.
3. Adrenal Formula: This is an Herbal Support product from my K-Strong line that I recommend for chronically stressed/fatigued people.
4. Diaplex: This is a special formula by Standard Process that helps support the normal functioning of the pancreas and the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat. This product has trivalent chromium that is needed for activation of insulin in the body.
5. Cataplex GTF: The GTF stands for Glucose Tolerance Factor. It is primarily a Chromium product with trace minerals that help activate insulin and help maintain normal blood glucose and lipid levels.
6. Standard Process has developed an Adrenal Health Daily Fundamental pack that includes Drenamin, Paraplex, and Cataplex ACP. These products help with adrenal support, glucose metabolism, and general cardiovascular support.