The American Psychological Association conducted a research on stress in 2007 and found that:
- About 50% of Americans say that stress has an adverse impact on both their personal and professional lives.
- 43% of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- 67% of all office visits to family physicians are due to stress-related symptoms.
- Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, liver cirrhosis, and suicide.
Without doubt, modern lifestyle has elevated stress to an epidemic level. However, stress in itself is not the problem; stress is a part of living. There is no life that is lived without stress. Besides, our body is superbly designed to handle the occasional stress. This ability is fundamental to human health and survival.
The problem is that in modern world, we encounter a huge volume of stressors, and their chronic, unrelenting nature just overwhelms the body’s inherent mechanisms for resolving stress. The signs and symptoms of stress are numerous. They can affect virtually any part of the body and produce physical, mental, and emotional symptoms.
Potential Sources Of Stress —
Here are some examples of external and internal stressors, all of which, if sustained, can create a detrimental effect on our health and well-being. See if you can identify any that applies to you.
- Mental/Emotional – fear, guilt, excitement, worry, anxiety, grief, depression, financial pressure, job-related stress, overwork, over-scheduling, moving, trauma and abuse, relationship stress, divorce, death of a loved one, pregnancy, etc.
- Physical- fractures, muscle injuries, nerve compression, over-exercise, lack of sleep, chronic illness, dieting, poor diet, physical trauma, accidents, surgeries, radiation, spinal subluxations, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) stress, etc.
- Existential Angst – lack of purpose or meaning in life, hopelessness, despair, etc.
Internal (Hidden) Stressors
Parasites, bacteria, fungi, viruses, pesticides, herbicides, industrial chemicals, toxic metals, tobacco residue, blood sugar problems, alcohol, wrong foods, food additives, food allergies, food sensitivities, drugs, metal in teeth, leaky gut, digestive insufficiency, toxicity, detoxification insufficiency, inflammation, pH imbalances, etc.
Understanding Adrenal Function —
To understand how stress affects the adrenal glands, we first have to look at the functions of the adrenals. The adrenal glands are a pair of walnut-sized, star-shaped endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They produce over 50 hormones, some of which include:
- Epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), the “fight or flight” hormones in response to stress.
- Aldosterone, the regulator for salt and water balance in the body.
- Cortisol, “the” stress hormone.
- Pregnenolone, DHEA (dehyrdroepiandrosterone), testosterone, estrogens (estrone, estriol, and estradiol), and progesterone.
Our adrenal glands are the body’s first line of defense and the primary device designed to resolve stress and reset the body to a state of ease.
A basic task of the adrenal glands is to rush all the body’s resources into “fight or flight” mode by increasing production of adrenaline and other hormones. When healthy, the adrenals can instantly increase heart rate and blood pressure, release energy stores for immediate use, slow digestion along with other secondary functions, and sharpen the senses, preparing the body to fight or flee.
This healthy stress response takes priority over all other metabolic functions, but it is not designed to last very long. A very serious problem arises when stressors become unrelentingly frequent and/or chronic. Whenever the cumulative stress load becomes greater than the capacity to resolve the stress, the body is unable to reset to a state of balance and ease. Dis-ease results, eventually becoming disease.
Adrenal Fatigue —
In its normal function, cortisol, the chief stress hormone, helps us deal with stressors by converting proteins into energy. For a short time and on an occasional basis, there is no problem as the body resets itself during periods of rest. But at sustained high levels, we are constantly triggering the “fight or flight” stress response. High levels of cortisol eventually tear the body down by putting tremendous demand on the adrenal glands, leading to adrenal fatigue or insufficiency.
The following are some symptoms related to chronic stress and adrenal fatigue:
- Poor blood sugar regulation – high/low blood sugar, diabetes
- Muscle weakness
- Bone loss
- Connective tissue problems – sprains, strains, tears
- Poor quality of sleep
- Mood issues – depression, anxiety, panic attack, moodiness, easily upset, cry easily, no motivation, anger and irritability (especially as relieved by eating)
- Memory and learning problems – forgetful, hard to learn new things, spacey, foggy thinking, neurotransmitter imbalances, poor concentration
- Low thyroid function
- Imbalances in levels of testosterone, estrogens, and progesterone
- Other hormone-related functions such as fluid retention, high/low blood pressure
- Overweight, underweight
- Digestive problems
- More susceptible to getting sick with pathogens (bacteria, virus, fungus, parasites)
- Detoxification problems (heavy metals, environmental pollutants, chemicals)
- Weakened immune system
- Pain, inflammation, especially in neck and upper back
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Airborn allergies
- Tooth infections
Adrenal fatigue does not happen all at once. It occurs over time and in stages (I, II, and III). In stage I and early stage II, there might only be a few symptoms or none at all. However, chronic stress will continue to exhaust the adrenals. If the body does not get a chance to return to balance, it progresses to stage III. Then functional changes result, leading to many serious diseases.
A salivary Adrenal Stress Test will reveal the stage of adrenal fatigue. If you are interested in doing this test (which includes cortisol, DHEA, estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, and melatonin), please contact me and I will send you a test kit. You can collect the saliva samples at home and mail to the lab.
Restoration Of Adrenal Health —
The good news is that all stages of adrenal fatigue are reversible and it is never too late to take on the following diet and lifestyle changes to restore your adrenal health:
- Eat a diet that is right for your body type; there is no one diet that is right for everyone. Metabolic Typing helps you find the right foods and the proper ratios of protein, fat, and carbohydrates for your body type.
- Avoid all allergic and sensitive foods
Have Adequate Rest
- Best bedtime is 10 pm and best rising time is 6 am
- Two hours of sleep before midnight are worth four hours after midnight to your adrenal glands
- Do cardio to strengthen the heart muscle and to build up lung capacity
- Lift weights to increase lean muscle mass and muscle tone
- Stretch to improve flexibility
- Just don’t over exercise, it can become a physical stressor
- Eliminate or reduce external stressors, such as avoiding people who are energy robbers
- Create downtime for yourself, allow your body to reset to a state of ease
- Identify and eliminate internal stressors
Take Supplements (Professional advice recommended)
- To support adrenal glands, digestion, and detoxification
- To restore hormonal balance
- To increase anti-oxidant levels in the body