Part 3B: Is Your "Accelerator" Stuck?
As Americans we jam-pack our schedules so that we are always running here and there, and this stress can put our adrenals into a state of “fight or flight.” In fact, most Americans live in a constant state of “fight or flight,” much like when the accelerator on a car gets stuck. Eventually the adrenals become fatigued from pumping out all of that adrenaline for day-to-day life, and they quit producing the proper amounts of hormones to balance other bodily functions. In addition to adrenaline and cortisol production, the adrenals contribute to:
On top of all of the busyness of American life, most of us do not get adequate sleep each night, and the adrenals are directly tied to sleep. Just like your car, you need to recharge the battery in your human machine! Crazy as it sounds, if you experience excess fatigue due to your adrenals being in overdrive, you may actually have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep-- it is like your engine is overheated from being revved up all day, so it takes a while to cool down. This further perpetuates the cycle, taking you into deeper adrenal exhaustion; it is truly a vicious cycle!
Another factor that contributes to adrenal exhaustion in Americans is our diet (SAD: Standard American Diet), which is heavily-laden with carbohydrates, added sugars, and caffeine. While these foods may give you a temporary burst of energy, they are quick to let you down, and when you do come down, it is fast and furious! Carbohydrates in the form of grains, particularly white, processed grains, sugary sweeteners, as well as caffeine raise energy levels quickly, by spiking blood sugar, but those spikes are followed by a crash, which will cause your engine to sputter and stall. These foods are the improper type of fuel, and as with motor vehicles, the wrong fuel affects how well your human machine will run! In addition to being the wrong type of fuel, these foods tax the adrenals and other organs by forcing the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Over time, the adrenals cannot keep up, and they simply quit, leaving you lower than ever. At that point, your “check engine” light goes on and stays on, and there is a chain reaction that takes place whereby other organs “downstream” from the adrenals do not get the chemical signals through hormones that they need in order to function properly.
When the adrenals become overly taxed, we may become edgy and irritable, have feelings of being out of control or overwhelmed, and women are more likely to suffer from hot flashes during menopause. In fact, women in other cultures do not struggle with hot flashes to the degree that American women do, and it is because they are not adrenally exhausted due to diet and lifestyle. Women who are adrenally exhausted experience a significant increase in thyroid issues and hormonal imbalances, including infertility, low libido and menopausal concerns. American women are sleep-deprived due to stress, overuse of electronic devices which affect dopamine levels in the body, improper nutrition (processed foods, heavy carbs and sugars, etc.), and environmental toxins. Add to that a thyroid-unfriendly environment due to chemically-treated drinking water, food additives, lack of organic iodine in the diet, burning the candle at both ends, and it's no wonder that American women are worn out and perpetually tired!
The solution: support your adrenals through managing your stress levels, getting adequate sleep, and optimizing your diet. Additional support may be needed through the use of herbs and supplements. Depending on how your nervous system is wired, one or several of the following may be beneficial:
The pituitary and hypothalamus help regulate the adrenals, and if they are not functioning properly, then neither will your adrenals, so their support is critical.
If you live life with "the pedal to the metal," start with the lifestyle changes we have discussed here, and if you need additional support, then schedule a Holistic Health Assessment so that I can help you find the root source of the problem to get your engine running smoothly once again!
L'chaim-- To Life!