Looking After Your Adrenals

Have you ever wondered if your adrenals are fatigued?
If you have, they probably are.

What are the adrenal glands?

The adrenals are two glands situated on top of the kidneys. The adrenal glands act in response to stress by secreting aldosterone, cortisol and epinephrine.

We need the adrenal glands to help us get through the day; they wake us up in the morning, keep us alert and prepared for any possible dangers. In the stone age, this looked like running away from a tiger. Now, it’s being scared of a strict deadline or overcommitting to activities. The problem here is that the adrenal glands don’t know the difference between the two different types of stress; they can make as many hormones in both scenarios, causing us to produce an excessive amount of these hormones unnecessarily. If we’re under stress for a prolonged time, the adrenals get fatigued and tired of secreting these hormones, increasing feelings of weakness and exhaustion.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue:

  • Changes in hunger
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • High energy in the evenings
  • Inability to handle stress
  • More likely to get sick
  • Reliant on stimulants, e.g. caffeine, alcohol and sugar
  • Sugar or salt cravings

Adrenals and hormones

The adrenal glands also play a pivotal role in hormonal health.

The same pathway in the body creates progesterone (essential for fertilisation and implantation) and cortisol. When we’re stressed, the body prefers to produce cortisol over progesterone – if you’re running away from immediate danger, you don’t want your body to be ovulating! However, if we’re continually producing excessive amounts of cortisol, it will inhibit progesterone production, which impacts fertility and can increase PMS symptoms.

During menopause, the adrenal glands are one of the only places the body can produce sex hormones. If the adrenal glands are depleted, it can limit their ability to synthesise sex hormones, and unfortunately, make menopause that much more difficult. To prepare adequately for menopause, check out my Flourish and Nourish through Menopause program here.

What can we do?

There are several things we can do daily to look after our adrenal glands.

  • Avoid too main screens and lights
  • Deep daily breathing or meditation
  • Do something you love, e.g. reading, baking or knitting
  • Eat regularly
  • Get at least eight hours of quality sleep a night
  • Go for walks, a yoga or pilates class
  • Reduce sugar, caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Slow down and learn how to prioritise your own needs

If you want individualised assistance with managing your adrenals, find out about booking a consultation here.

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About the author

Belinda Kirkpatrick is an expert Nutritionist and Naturopath in Sydney. She specialises in natural fertility, family and women's health care. She is the author of Healthy Hormones (a practical guide to balancing your hormones) and is the founder of the SEED Concept and also Seed App for iPhone.

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