Phew – Are you as glad the holidays are over as I am? I love the holiday season, but with Thanksgiving and Christmas so close together, with all the hustle and bustle, parties, celebrations, late nights, early mornings, sugary treats, and alcohol who isn’t wiped out.
In our busy world it is very difficult to stop and smell the roses. We use holidays and vacations as a time to do something different, a change of pace or scenery, but very rarely do we stop and evaluate the our overall state of well being. This crazy fast paced life leads to burn out, or medically defined as adrenal fatigue.
You will find adrenal fatigue at the root of many health problems. As your body gets worn down from day in day out abuse, you have less reserve to keep your immune system regulated and firing appropriately. Your immune system becomes weak so you become susceptible to colds and flues, but also the over taxed adrenals have a difficult time producing all their hormones and precursor hormones. Therefore we start to develop hormone imbalances, both in males and females. The hormones are an important form of communication our body uses along with our nervous system. When breakdowns in communication happen, that’s when we get sick.
If you feel your adrenal glands are fatigued beware and heed my warning; do not self medicate your adrenal glands. There are many products available for adrenal support and picking the appropriate course of treatment is not always obvious. Think about your tired adrenals like you would a tired horse; If you whipped your horse to encourage it to keep going it will go on as long as it can until it finally collapses in total fatigue. That’s what many adrenal products will do, make you feel good for a little while, but ultimately fatigue the adrenals further and make you feel worse. It will then take even longer to get your adrenals back to balance.
The best way to evaluate the health of your adrenal glands is with a simple saliva test. It’s amazing what spitting into four little vials can tell you, and in the grand scheme of diagnostic testing it is relatively cheap. This is a good place to remind you that the average American spends more on the maintenance of their car every year than on their own health. The adrenal saliva test, which is called the “Adrenal Stress Index” or “Temporal Adrenal Profile”, looks at what your cortisol (the stress hormone-released from the adrenal glands) is doing throughout the day. Your cortisol is supposed to be the highest in the morning and the lowest at night when you are sleeping. Any alterations from the normal cortisol rhythms and your adrenals are headed for disaster.
The symptoms of adrenal fatigue are numerous but a simple Google search will show you all the many ailments and symptoms associated with it. Fixing the adrenals involves three steps that are a must, and are also essential for every human being to be healthy.
- Reducing the amount of insulin your body is producing. (I can hear you thinking) Ahhh…that sounds like a good idea! Yes it is, but that means reducing the amount of sugar your body is consuming, not only from sweets and candy but also reducing simple refined carbohydrates as well. The average American consumes over 250lbs of sugar in one year compared to 100 years ago when the average human consumed about 10lbs a year. The higher your insulin load, the larger the strain on your adrenals, and this will wear you down and cause many health problems.
- Exercise! Exercise is so important for adrenal health. The physiological changes that take place in the body with 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (at a pace at which you can maintain a conversation; aka. walking) are amazing. Of course more intense exercises can be very healthy also, but it’s a catch 22, too intense and you can over stress the adrenal also. The body needs to go through a stress response after intense exercise, which is to in-depth for this article, but if you want to learn about it look up Han’s Selye. If you are not making gains in your workouts you are over training.
- You need to sleep 7-8 hours a night. Sleep is the regenerative time in your body. Many American have sleep issues. Have you ever looked at the quantity of Z drugs prescribed on the market; they are called Z drugs because they help you get your ZZZ’s. They are neurotransmitter-altering drugs to force your body to go unconscious, unfortunately they do not help with fixing the underlying problem of your sleep. Sleep is altered when your pineal gland does not release enough melatonin to allow you to go unconscious. Once unconscious your body uses GABA, a neurotransmitter to remain unconscious. There are many reasons for your body to have imbalanced neurotransmitters, but most reasons go back to an unhealthy diet of too many processed foods and sugar, and not enough exercise.
The 3 basic premises of health are, Good Food, Good Exercise, and Good Rest. It doesn’t seem that it should be so difficult but with hectic busy lives we tend to push good choices to the back burner. Look at the different aspects of your daily routines, see where you are coming up short and make changes to improve those areas and your adrenal glands may yet survive the fryer!