Get the Facts
Prolonged Stress Caused by Adrenal Glands?
By Dr. Len Lopez
Nutrition and fitness expert
If you've been struggling with a chronic health condition that hasn't been getting better – maybe it could be your adrenal glands? Are you dealing with prolonged stress? Has your doctor mentioned your adrenal glands or possible adrenal fatigue being the root of the problem?
We all know that stress is a huge factor in our health, unfortunately mainstream medicine only recognizes it as a general term. They don't factor in the overall affects and consequences of having cortisol and adrenaline constantly pumping through your body.
The reason for that is two-fold and I will get to that in a moment, but the more stress you are under the more cortisol and adrenaline your adrenal glands will be asked to produce. It's called the 'fight or flight' mode and the good Lord designed your body that way...the only thing is, He didn't intend for us to be in a continual, prolonged state of stress. We are supposed to get out of harms way, relax and give our body a chance to rest and recover.
Your adrenal glands can only pump out so much cortisol and adrenaline before they become exhausted and depleted, which is referred to as adrenal fatigue. But you can only squeeze out so much juice from a lemon. Stress depletes your body of specific nutrients, which is why rest and proper nourishment are important in keeping your adrenal glands functioning properly.
Cortisol and adrenaline are two primary hormones – you can't live without. They are basically survival hormones. What's important to understand about the 'fight of flight' mode, and the over-production of your stress hormones are that your body is basically in survival mode.
Simply put, how do you expect to quiet your body in order to digest a meal, regulate your hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA), have a baby, relax, fall asleep, fight off infections, etc.
In essence how do you expect to do all these things when your heart is being triggered to pump harder and faster, your arteries are constricting and your metabolism is burning lean muscle for energy? The short answer is that it can't!
- All that extra cortisol and adrenaline will affect your metabolism which is why so many people struggle with fatigue, weight gain, along with thyroid issues.
- It will throw off your digestive system which leads to indigestion, heartburn, reflux and other irritable bowel problems.
- It will disrupt the balance of your hormones...which leads to loss of libido, PMS, hot flashes, night sweats, hormone imbalances and menopausal symptoms.
- It will constantly stimulate your cardiovascular system which causes high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and heart disease.
- Throws off your blood sugar which leads to hypoglycemia, insulin resistance and diabetes.
- It will disrupt your neurotransmitters (chemical brain messengers) which can lead to depression, anxiety, mood swings, or insomnia.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Too much cortisol and adrenaline racing through your body will weaken your immune system; affect your ability to add lean muscle and cause your body to constantly be in this catabolic or breakdown state.
FYI ... Identifying that your adrenals and stress are the problem...is only half the battle. The other half is in restoring and nourishing your exhausted adrenal glands, which is what the ARS Healthy Steps Program is designed to do.
This is why measuring your cortisol and DHEA levels can be a huge indicator as to the root of your problem. It will let you know how stress is truly impacting your overall health.
Why Mainstream Medicine Doesn't Routinely Measure Your Adrenal Glands.
Here are three primary reasons why most traditional doctors don't suspect or test for adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. The first is that it WAS to difficult to measure. To properly measure cortisol levels, you need to take four blood draws in a 24 hour period. The fact that cortisol levels fluctuate in a 24 hour period is why you need to test it four times in a day.
It's literally impossible to get four blood draws in a day unless you are in the hospital, which is not a good way to accurately measure cortisol levels. This is why saliva testing has become the popular choice for accurately measuring cortisol and DHEA levels. They are take home tests that are done in the convenience of your own home.
FYI … If you only take one reading it won't give you an accurate picture of your cortisol levels in that 24-hour period. It may be at the right level at that one time you measured, but are your levels going up, when they should be going down? Is it too high in the morning and low at bedtime? Or the other way around? This could help shed light as to why you feel the way you do at certain times of the day.
Besides that who wants to be stuck with a needle four times in a day or what labs is going to be open for you to have your blood drawn first thing in the morning or at bedtime. This is why saliva testing done in the convenience of your home is the best way to measure many of your hormones, including your stress hormones.
Yes, labs that only test blood don't like the newer saliva tests because they are stealing some of their business. I don't think album manufacturer's very much liked music coming out on CDs.
Let's not forget that a needle is a stressor for some people so having their blood drawn could provide inaccurate or false stress levels, which is another reason for saliva testing.
A second reason is that there isn't a handy-dandy medication to pass out like there is when your thyroid or ovaries are out of balance. In the past few decades those medications have been on the list of top ten drugs sold annually.
Finally the last reason you don't see many doctors recommending adrenal or cortisol testing is because it isn't being taught in the schools yet. Although if you go to many of the seminars and study the cutting edge information, – that is not sponsored by a drug company, you will hear a lot about adrenal fatigue and how to treat it.
It's not profitable for a drug company to recommend nutritional supplements, (adrenal support) and lifestyle changes to help you in your quest for better health. So the big question you may want to ask yourself if you are struggling with a problem that is not getting better is, how current is your health care provider with the latest news and discoveries for dealing with many of today's chronic problems?
The big rock to take away from this discussion is – there may be an answer to your unresolved health issue. If your doctor hasn't mentioned the possibility of adrenal fatigue and exhaustion, I would take the Stress Test to see if stress could be part of your problem. If it sounds like it could be I would then order the 24-Hour Saliva test to see if stress and adrenal fatigue are at the root of your problem.
Dr. Len Lopez is a nutrition and fitness expert and creator of The Work Horse Trainer. He speaks extensively on diet, exercise, and how stress can affect your overall health and wellness.
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