The adrenal glands are located directly above the kidneys and are involved in many important functions of the body. Progesterone, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), cortisol, and adrenaline are among the many hormones secreted by these glands. Cortisol in particular is significant in the management of stress. When the adrenal glands are healthy and creating proper levels of cortisol, the body is able to contend with stress in an appropriate and balanced way. However, if cortisol levels are too high the immune system is compromised, increasing the likelihood of cancer and infection. Too low of cortisol levels and the immune system becomes overactive, leading to autoimmune disease. Additional functions of the adrenal glands include energy production within the body, regulating blood pressure, fluid and electrolyte balance, and stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Diagnosing adrenal fatigue
Often times, adrenal fatigue is difficult to diagnose clinically. Most mainstream doctors do not recognize adrenal fatigue since they are trained to look for severe adrenal malfunction such as Addison's Disease or Cushing's Syndrome. Fortunately, there are alternatives available for diagnosis. An effective and affordable salivary cortisol test can be purchased online. With this kit, a sample is collected at home then sent off to a lab for results. Self-diagnosis is another option.
According to Dr. Wilson, a specialist in adrenal health, indicators of adrenal fatigue include:
- Difficulty physically and mentally "waking up" before 10 a.m., even if one has been awake since early morning
- Sleepiness or clouded thinking between 2 to 4 p.m.
- Burst of energy at 6 p.m.
- Mild depression
- Unable to manage stress
- Muscular weakness
- Increased allergies
- Decreased sex drive
- Inability to handle foods high in carbohydrates or potassium
- Lightheadedness when getting up from a sitting or prone position
Further symptoms may include weight gain (especially around the waist), craving high protein foods along with salt and fat, nervousness, hair loss, and low body temperature.
Measures for healing
By adopting certain nurturing dietary and lifestyle habits, the adrenals can be brought into a state of equilibrium that helps to support vitality. Activities such as mild exercise, yoga, laughing, minimizing stress, and taking a short rest around 10 a.m. and again between 3 and 5 p.m. contribute to adrenal health. Healing dietary recommendations include: avoiding sugar, junk food, and caffeine; consuming six servings of vegetables per day and eating small amounts of quality protein with each meal; refraining from all cow dairy except for organic raw pasture butter which is high in adrenal nourishing cojugated linoleic acid (CLA); incorporating moderate amounts of extra-virgin olive or coconut oil into each meal. Enjoying a varied diet is also important to provide a spectrum of nutrients. Additionally, supplements play a crucial role in rebuilding the glands, especially vitamins A, B, C, E, pantothenic acid, and zinc.
Well-functioning adrenal health contributes to the enjoyment of life. By making a few necessary adjustments, strength, clarity and vigor return along with enthusiasm and zest.