Updated: Feb 19, 2020
Your adrenal glands are critical for your health and well-being. Your energy levels, weight and body shape, digestion, immune system, menstrual cycle, mind and emotions are all influenced by your adrenals which is why it's so important to provide them with the building blocks needed to do their very important work.
Many women experience the effects of either overactive adrenals or underactive adrenals without even knowing it. The symptoms have unfortunately become the norm for many of us, and so often these symptoms are dismissed at the doctor's office leaving us to believe it's "all in our head".
Effects of excess cortisol and adrenaline (overactive adrenals)
When stress hormones are chronically elevated, your immune system is suppressed, your metabolism slows down, and your body's rate of recovery is impaired. Aging accelerates as the rate of free radicals wreak havoc on our cells and blood pressure, weight gain, blood sugar, and cholesterol all increase.
Some signs your adrenals are overactive:
Nervousness and agitation
Increased appetite and sugar cravings
High blood pressure
IBS and loose stools
Cycle imbalances (lack of ovulation, PMS, irregular periods)
Effects of low cortisol and adrenaline (underactive adrenals)
When the adrenals become fatigued from chronic stress they produce lower levels of the stress hormones which causes a disruption in cortisol rhythms. This is what makes getting up in the morning and going to sleep at night a challenge.
Some signs your adrenals are underactive:
Low blood sugar
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Low blood pressure
Swelling in hands and feet
Trouble bouncing back when getting sick
Aches and pains
Need coffee to function
Energy in the evening
Digestive problems (bloating, gas, upset stomach)
Dark circles under eyes
So what's a girl to do?
As you can see, adrenal symptoms are plenty and problematic. The good news is that by taking charge of your health through knowledge, discipline, and paying attention to your body's unique needs you can begin to rebalance your health. It requires effort on your part by prioritizing good diet and lifestyle habits that your adrenals love.
It starts with getting adequate nutrition. Here are 5 adrenal nutrients that you need to pay attention to
These are involved in energy production and necessary for your body to make adrenal hormones. Sources include whole grains, beans, peas, nuts, and nutritional yeast. B12 especially is found in meat, fish and dairy products.
Essential in the production of adrenal hormones and helps reduce cortisol and stress perception. Also supports immune function. Sources include most fruits and vegetables especially citrus, leafy greens, berries, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
Often referred to as the "calming" mineral this is a big one to pay attention to as it's a foundational part of the way your hormones communicate back and forth with each other. It helps to regulate important body systems and supports the HPA axis by maintaining healthy cortisol levels. Lacking this critical mineral can throw your whole body out of whack. Sources include whole grains, most nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens and legumes.
Two forms of omega 3 fatty acids that helps control inflammation and boosts mind and moods. Our body doesn't produce these so it's critical that we get it from food. Cold water fish is the best source but if you don't eat fish it's a good idea to supplement with a good quality fish oil such as cod liver oil.
Helps boost moods, supports immune function, helps with blood sugar balance and improves insulin levels by protecting the pancreas. Egg yolks, oily fish, butter, fortified milk, and liver are food sources of this vitamin. Getting plenty of sunshine exposure is a must to keeping levels in check.