The thyroid gland conducts your metabolism and is needed for adrenal glands to function well. Essentially, your thyroid is like the main source of power in your ‘house’ (body), while your adrenals are like a back-up generator for use in emergencies or acute stressful situations. However, if your main source of power is continuously not functioning optimally, your back-up power will become your main source of power and energy, and that results in major consequences for your body and hormones, and in being chronically stressed. When this back-up generator of yours (adrenal glands) is burnt out, the result will be adrenal fatigue. This explains that we should rather look at improving thyroid health, and the health of your entire system, instead of focusing on the adrenal glands, which do tend to regenerate easily. How? We need to live a lifestyle that optimizes all these functions.
Forcing our bodies to adapt to chronic stress will result in massive shifts in your stress hormones such as serotonin, estrogen, adrenaline and cortisol, for example.
Adrenaline and cortisol, two of our main stress hormones, are released by the adrenal glands during times of stress. Adrenaline mobilizes glycogen and free fatty acids for energy and when adrenaline rises, this boost in short-term energy supports your brain and internal organ functions for survival, while decreasing blood circulation to your extremities. This is why you may sometimes experience cold hands and feet when your metabolism is not functioning optimally.
Cortisol, typically at its highest levels in the morning, is very important for the proper functioning of our blood pressure, immune system, blood sugar regulation and our ability to handle stress. If you are experiencing stress all the time, your cortisol levels do not decrease as the day goes by like they naturally should. This ultimately leads to insomnia, disrupted sleep, feeling exhausted when waking in the mornings and afternoon energy crashes.
Adrenaline and cortisol are not ‘bad’, but they do need to be at normal levels to support optimal health. What happens on a physiological level when we are constantly running off these stress hormones? Mineral depletion resulting in hair thinning and hair loss, digestive distress, a weakened immune system, low libido, possible an-ovulation, PMS, oestrogen dominance, impaired liver detox, and muscle loss to name a few.
You need to allow your body to feel safe in order for it to self-regulate. Here are some steps you can take:
- Balance your blood sugar levels — a healthy metabolism is impossible without balanced blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar is not balanced and your liver glycogen stores are low, stress hormones rise in order to provide your body with energy. This is also why you should not consume caffeine, or do strenuous exercise, in a fasted state.
- Replenish minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium. This may even decrease stress-related cravings and binge eating.
- Regularly consume healthy sugar sources like fruit, as well as complex carbohydrates.
How do we balance blood sugar levels? Here are a few tips:
- Eat your breakfast 90 minutes after waking up. Ideally within 30-60 minutes. Do not train fasted in the mornings.
- Eat something every 3-4 hours.
- All meals & snacks should contain a form of protein and fiber (vegetables/fruit). Prioritize daily protein and vegetable intake.
- Drink 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar in water 10-30 minutes before meals.
- Go for a 10 minute walk after meals.
Until next time.