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Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

The adrenal glands are walnut shaped glands that sit on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands manufacture and secrete important hormones into the body such as cortisol, estrogen and testosterone. The main function of the adrenal glands is to help the body cope with and regulate physical and mental stress that can occur as a result of physical injury, work or relationships.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands become weakened and do not function properly. It can result after years of stress or after chronic infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Overwhelming fatigue not cured by sleep
  • Feelings of excessive tiredness
  • Inability to get out of bed after a restful night’s sleep
  • Excessive cravings for salty snacks
  • Having more energy in the evening and night

The medical community is now referring to stress as the “20th century killer” because of its debilitating effects on mental and physical health. Overall stress levels have increased in society to the point where many people are becoming ill. Doctors now know that stress releases chemical toxins into the body which break down adrenal glands and the immune system making it difficult to fight off sickness and disease.

Prolonged periods of stress elevate cortisol levels in the body which leads to adrenal fatigue, stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Other factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking compound the problem.

How to Combat Adrenal Fatigue

Stress reduction is the most critical factor in fighting adrenal fatigue. Stress reduction techniques include:

  • Changing your occupation/work environment
  • Prayer/Meditation
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Mental health counseling
  • Having a consistent sleep schedule

Dietary changes also promote healthy adrenal function by regulating hormone secretion. A healthy adrenal diet is no different than a heart healthy diet and requires no special foods or supplements. The Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid guidelines are an excellent dietary resource and recommend daily values of:

  • Six ounces whole grains
  • 2 ½ cups vegetables
  • 1 ½ cups fruit
  • 3 cups dairy
  • 5 oz. lean protein

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