Updated: Feb 15
What are the Adrenal Glands?
The adrenal glands are small, triangular-shaped glands located on top of both kidneys. They produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, sex hormones, response to stress and other essential functions.
Your adrenal glands play a central role in your endocrine system when it comes to regulating and reacting to your body’s stress levels. When they are functioning properly, you are able to effectively adapt to the environment around you and react to the day-to-day stresses that you encounter both physically and emotionally.
If there is an adrenal dysfunction (or HPA dysfunction), you can feel intense fatigue and exhaustion even after a full night’s sleep. Without proper regulation from your endocrine system, you may feel easily overwhelmed and unable to cope with normal everyday stress or even handle the normal activities of life.
It’s also common to crave salty or sweet foods, as a quick way to refuel, since the body is looking to upgrade energy any way it can. Unfortunately, eating this way can create even more imbalances, especially with your overall gut health.
The Adrenal Glands release certain hormones directly into the bloodstream. Many of these hormones have to do with how the body responds to stress, and some are vital to existence. The key hormones produced by the adrenal gland include:
Cortisol: Helps control the body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates; suppresses inflammation; regulates blood pressure; increases blood sugar; and controls the sleep/wake cycle. It is released during times of stress to give your body an energy boost to better handle an emergency situation if needed.
Aldosterone: Plays a central role in regulating blood pressure and certain electrolytes (sodium and potassium).
DHEA and Androgenic Steroids: Precursor hormones that are converted in the ovaries into female hormones (estrogens) and in the testes into male hormones (androgens). However, estrogens and androgens are produced in much larger amounts by the ovaries and testes.
Epinephrine (Adrenaline) and Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline): Initiators of the ‘fight of flight response’. These hormones are capable of increasing heart rate and heart contractions, increasing blood flow to the muscles and brain, relaxing airway smooth muscles, and assisting in glucose (sugar) metabolism. They also control the constricting of blood vessels, helping to maintain blood pressure and increasing it in response to stress.
So, as you can see, if there is an adrenal imbalance (whether insufficient or hyper) you can easily feel all out of wack both mentally and physically!
Do your Adrenals need support? Check out the symptoms list:
Weight gain (usually midsection/upper back), weight loss resistance
Increased PMS, irregular periods and menopausal symptoms
Weakened immune system
Difficulty falling and/or staying asleep
Tend to be a ‘night person’
Headaches throughout the day or after exercise
Clenching or grinding your teeth
Chronic low back pain
Dizziness when standing up
Brain fog or poor concentration
Trouble calming down, ‘keyed up’
Pain on the inner sides of knees
Tendency to need sunglasses
Overall weakness and/or dizziness
Blood pressure over 120/80
Muscle fatigue and/or weakness
Low mood, anxiety, irritability
What taxes the adrenals?
Stressful life events (death of a loved one, surgery, divorce)
Prolonged stress (financial hardship, unhealthy relationships, work environment)
Exposure to environmental toxins
Emotional trauma, childhood trauma or constant negative thinking
Lack of quality sleep
Poor diet, nutrient-depleted diet, nutrient deficiencies
Reliance on stimulants (coffee, energy drinks)
Diabetes (or impaired glucose levels)
Steps to Support the Adrenals Naturally:
1) Increase Therapeutic Foods
Coconut oil, flakes, yogurt, milk, water
Olives and olive oil
Grass-fed butter or ghee
Avocado and guacamole
Cruciferous Veggies (cooked): broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, leafy greens.
Fatty fish and shellfish (wild-caught salmon, sardines, oysters)
Grass-fed lean meats and organ meats (liver)
Free range turkey, chicken
Nuts and seeds (walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, pumpkin, flax, chia, hemp)
Celtic/Himalayan Sea salt
Medicinal mushrooms (cordyceps, chaga)
2) Specific Nutrients or Supplemental Support:
Vitamin B Complex (methylated)
Amino Acids: tyrosine, phenylalanine, taurine, theanine, GABA
Adaptogenic herbs: ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, schisandra, holy basil, licorice root, ginseng, eleuthero, maca, astragalus root
3) Lifestyle Factors:
Avoid staying up late
Get sunlight first thing in the morning
Keep a regular sleep pattern
Minimize unnecessary stress (delegate and ask for help)
Reduce processed / packaged foods (white flour, pasta, breads)
Boost whole foods
Eat 3 meals a day (4-6 hours apart) around the same time daily (don't skip)
Daily movement, yoga, exercise
Surround yourself with positive people
Make time for self-love: massage, soaking baths, aromatherapy, meditation
Seek counsel and support for trauma
If you are noticing these symptoms and would like more support in creating a therapeutic plan, schedule a Free 15-Minute Session with us to discover how we can support you.
*Always consult your nutritionist before taking herbal supplements as they may interfere with certain medications.