"Adrenal fatigue is no fun, but some lifestyle changes can help, and in many cases they’re things you enjoy."
In today’s Live Show with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD holistic nutritionist, we are going to talk about adrenals. We shall find out what adrenal glands are and what they do. Then we’ll discuss what adrenal fatigue is, what it does to our bodies, and how to cope with it.
Note: Dr. Nancy's position on adrenal fatigue has evolved since publication of this article. Click here for updated information on adrenal health.
- 5:36: Adrenal Glands
- 7:05: Functions of the Adrenal Gland
- 12:25: Adrenal Fatigue
- 13:54: Inflammation symptoms
- 14:37: Alleviation of Inflammation
- 20:25: Granola Hormone Balancing Recipe
- 27:45: Wrap Up
Adrenal glands help the body manage stress. Adrenaline is produced in the adrenals. The adrenal glands are two small, acorn sized, triangular glands that sit on top of your kidneys. Each adrenal gland is broken up into two sections; the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla.
The adrenal cortex is the larger outer part of the adrenal gland and is responsible for producing the hormone cortisol and aldosterone.
The adrenal medulla is located in the center of the adrenal gland and is responsible for producing non-essential hormones. This includes the hormone adrenaline.
Functions of the Adrenal Gland
The hormones and adrenal cortex are essential to life and your wellbeing. Overall, the adrenals have a number of functions in the body, including:
- Regulating blood pressure
- Helping the body burn fat and protein
- Helping the body regulate and manage stress.
Aldosterone helps control blood pressure while cortisol is the major player in helping your body properly respond to stress. Cortisol also helps regulate blood sugar, improve your memory, regulate the immune system, and reduce inflammation.
The adrenals are also responsible for helping the body efficiently transition between the two responses; the “fight or flight” response and “rest and digest” response. If the body and the adrenals are working properly, your body knows when it’s time to get up and when it’s time to sleep. Your body will also know when it’s time to stay alert. If you’re healthy, the body does this on its own and at the right times. For instance, when you are faced with a stressful situation, to help the body prepare for what it perceives as immediate danger, the adrenals release adrenaline which causes the heart to beat rapidly, breathing starts to speed up, muscles constrict, pupils become dilated, and you might even become a little sweaty or flushed. Your body is either preparing you to stay and fight, or to give you the boost you’re going to need to take flight and run away. Adrenaline will help your body to learn what the better thing to do is.
Conversely, after you’ve eaten a big meal, you might start to feel a little bit sleepy or even a little bit cold. The adrenal glands release hormones that force the body to release digestive enzymes and your muscles start to relax and your heart rate starts to slow down. This is your body switching into rest and digest mode.
For some people, the body either does not properly know when to or switch out of that fight or flight mode. For this reason, the adrenals go into overdrive and stop working properly. This is known as adrenal fatigue. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- Sudden weight loss
- Poor circulation
- Dry skin
- Sun and excessive hair loss
- Digestive issues
Adrenal fatigue can also cause excess inflammation in the body. This is because when you’re stressed, adrenals release a spike of cortisol immediately. If you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue due to too much stress over and over again, chances are pretty good that there is too much cortisol flowing through your brain. This excessive cortisol has the opposite effect and it causes inflammation and all the symptoms that go along with it.
- Brain fog
- Stiff and Swollen joints
- Digestion issues like diarrhea or constipation
- Lowered immune system
- Chronic aches and pains
- Sinus or chest congestion
Alleviation of Inflammation
If you feel you might have adrenal fatigue, it might be a great idea to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. However, there are some things you can do on your own to bring some relief. These include:
Find a way to decrease the stress levels in your life
Take a yoga class, try deep breathing and/or try sighing out loud. There are a ton of great relaxation apps on the market now and a lot of them are free. Schedule yourself some time and remember to just sit and breathe. Make sure that you take a specific time consistently, daily, to decompress and de-stress. Work fewer hours if at all possible and do something for yourself. You can also use a brain tap device that has binaural beats and sound waves and it takes you from a state of agitation to a state of more calm.
Altering you diet to one that is integrated with lots of anti-inflammatory foods is going to help your body adequately regulate and administer cortisol levels and other hormones in the adrenals. As always, try to eat foods that are free of alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats. Eat lots of lean proteins, leafy greens, and low sugar fruits like berries, grapefruits and avocado. Consume healthy oils like avocado and olive oil. Nuts are a great way to not only combat inflammation but adrenal fatigue as well. They are rich in magnesium and magnesium is nature’s chill pill.
Granola Hormone Balancing Recipe
This is delicious, and it reduces inflammation and adrenal fatigue.
- 2/3 cup Brazilian nuts.
- 2/3 cup pecans. You can substitute any of these nuts with almonds or hazelnuts.
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds.
- 1/3 cup ground flax seeds.
- 1/4 cup coconut flakes.
- 5 tbsp coconut oil.
- 4 tbsp pure maple syrup.
- 2 tsp cinnamon.
- 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Preheat your oven to 180°F. Chop up the Brazil nuts (or the almonds, or the pecans... whatever nuts you’re using). In a bowl, combine the chopped nuts with the pumpkin seeds, ground flax seeds, and coconut flakes. In a separate bowl, mix the liquids, (i.e. the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla extract). Pour that over the dry ingredient that you put in the baking pan or baking sheet and mix it with your hands or a spoon until everything is coated well. Spread the granola over the baking sheet or just make sure that it is all flat and even. Bake for 30 minutes. Once you’re done, you have a healthy and delicious snack. You can add dry cherries as well.
This crunchy, delicious snack will help reduce inflammation and keep your adrenals in check. What you eat is very important, and when you eat is very important as well. Make sure you’re eating at least four or five small meals throughout the day. This can help keep your energy levels sustained and your adrenal glands working properly.
Remember to supplement with Smarter Curcumin which is the most effective, natural inflammation-fighting compound that we know of. It is the concentrated active ingredient inside turmeric root, but when formulated properly it can have an amazing effect on your whole body. In fact, it is 250x more potent as an inflammation fighter than turmeric itself. Curcumin is what you want to look for. A large part of the inflammation fighting effect of curcumin comes from its ability to inhibit key enzymes in the body known to promote inflammation. Remember the daily mantra or equation of inflammation which is:
Less Inflammation In + More Inflammation Out = Healthier and Happier you.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
Take a couple of deep breaths at night before you go to bed. You can do a forward fold, or take a relaxing bath before going to bed to help you relax and wind down. Seven to eight hours of sleep per night should do the trick, even though it really is the quality of sleep and not the quantity of sleep that we want to look for. If we really are trying to give the adrenal glands adequate time to rejuvenate and replenish, we really need to look at our sleep as well.
The adrenals are two triangular acorn-sized glands that sit on top of your kidneys. They produce hormones that help you manage stress better, like cortisol and adrenaline which tell the body when to transition between “fight or flight” and “rest and digest”.
When you are overly stressed, the adrenals get stuck in “fight or flight” mode which can lead to things like dry skin, hair loss, insomnia, and weight loss. The best way to combat adrenal fatigue is to stress less. Try taking up yoga, or eliminating any undue stressors from your life if possible. You can also try to change the stresses in your life by trying to change the narrative in your mind, focusing on what is good and healthy and joyful. For example, instead of saying “I have to,” remind yourself that you get to.
Eat a diet loaded with anti-inflammatory foods, and avoid anything fried or processed and get a good night sleep every night.
Adrenal fatigue is no fun, but some lifestyle changes can help, and in many cases they’re things you enjoy. The fact that a relaxing bath is good for your health is good news!