Today I want to talk with you about the connection between your stress response and symptoms you might be experiencing.
If you have nonspecific symptoms such as pain and weakness in different parts of your body, sleep disturbance, and digestive problems in addition to feeling nervous, chances are you may have some adrenal hormone imbalance.
When you are stressed, your adrenal glands, which are just situated on top of your kidneys, produce adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones create change in your body to prepare yourself for the threat or potential danger.
We call this the fight-or-flight response. At this stage, you may feel your heart pounding and your energy level increased. Your body is ready to face whatever source of harm there may be.
When the stressful situation is gone, your cortisol–which is famously known as the stress hormone–goes back to normal as your adrenal now stops producing it in excess. Your body starts to function normally and your vitals go back to their regular normal rhythm.
You weathered the stress. Thanks to cortisol.
But when stress is constant (as it has been for many of us lately!) and when you’re always in that fight-or-flight response, this wreaks havoc on your hormones.
Adrenal hormone imbalance starts when cortisol levels shoots up. As I mentioned, at first, you’ll be full of energy and you may even feel good during this time. However, if you don’t take control of your health–I mean, you’re not making lifestyle changes to ease your stress, your cortisol will soon drop down. You’d then experience tiredness and some other symptoms I mentioned above until you’d be too exhausted to even do your basic daily activities.
The Gut-Adrenal Connection
Now, there’s an important link between your adrenals and your gut.
Two adrenal hormones play a role in gut health by boosting immunity and reducing inflammation. One is cortisol (as we’ve been talking about), and the other is DHEA (stands for dehydroepiandrosterone).
Cortisol is the main anti-inflammatory hormone in the gut. BUT, when cortisol gets imbalanced in the way I’ve been discussing, that imbalance actually leads to an INCREASE in inflammation and can lead to develop digestive issues.
DHEA is a repair and maintenance hormone. DHEA also protects your gut from disease-causing bacteria, so it’s important in preventing gut infections and repairing damage to your gut cells that occur for all of us during our lifetime.
It’s important to keep these 2 adrenal hormones balanced. As you can see, they are very important to your overall health, especially your gut health. If your gut health breaks down, it’s just a matter of time before you’re at increased risk for symptoms and disease.
4 Tips for Supporting Your Adrenals
Here’s how to support your adrenals so you can prevent adrenal imbalance or help your body recover from it:
- Detox from coffee – Caffeine keeps you in the fight-or-flight mode (which is part of why we like it!). It actually increases brain activity, triggering the pituitary gland to stimulate the adrenal glands to produce hormones. When you are already stressed and already have a demand to produce more stress hormones, it’s not a healthy combo. It leads to burnout. To reverse that, try replacing your daily cup of coffee with coffee that has adaptogens that support your adrenals (like Alphay “RIch Black” or Four Sigmatic). You can slowly mix your regular coffee with one of these healthier versions or you can slowly switch to decaf which is another good option. If you’re used to drinking multiple cups per day, consider swapping some of them out for other beverages like hot or iced tea or a bubbly water.
- Get enough sleep – This is timeless advice. I think I have repeated this a gazillion times! Your body needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night. This is especially important during this stressful time in history, so be kind and make sure you support yourself to get enough good quality sleep.
- Eat healthy – Yes, this never goes out of style! Eat natural, whole-foods–fresh vegetables and fruits, protein, and healthy fats. Kick high-sugar foods and processed foods out of your life (at least out of your normal routine)
- Manage stress – If you haven’t yet tried self-care practices to keep your stress levels low, then now is the time to do it. How about mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation? If you are anxious about something, journal, talk with someone or think of some solutions you can put into action. My favorite way to manage stress is HeartMath. I’ve been using these tools for many years and they are so helpful to shift the inevitable feelings of stress/worry/frustration that come up on a daily basis! The important point is to make some form of healthy, effective stress regulation part of your daily life.
I bet a lot of us have our fight-or-flight mode on right now due to the pandemic. I don’t want to see you get burned out and health compromised. We have to take care of ourselves more during these trying times.
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!