Each of us has two nickel-sized adrenal glands, one located above each kidney. They are a major player in producing and regulating the hormones that our bodies need. They do play a role in our production of DHEA and sex hormones; but they also control our cortisol and corticosteroid production. Through their functions, the adrenals help to control our circadian rhythm, suppress inflammation, regulate our blood pressure, monitor metabolism, regulate our fluid and mineral excretion (affecting our electrolytes), and play a major role in working with our thyroid hormones.
When your adrenals are out of rhythm, which some label as adrenal fatigue, you may suffer symptoms such as the following…
- Low energy in the morning, but unable to fall asleep at night.
- Low blood pressure.
- Hypothyroid (low thyroid).
- Salt cravings.
- Reduced immunity.
- Difficulty losing weight.
- Feeling stressed, anxious.
Sound like you? Or someone you know? I think we can all relate to the fact that our poor standard diet and overly-stressed lifestyle may be attributing to our bodies becoming worn down, which may then disrupt our adrenal function and our hormone balance.
After my first surgery, I suffered from vertigo on several occasions, very low blood pressure and terrible energy levels. The key to figuring out that I had adrenal issues came to me when I realized that I would be at my worst in the morning, and then my energy would spike at night. When it was severe, my energy would not pick up until 6:00 pm at night, and then I would have trouble sleeping. In the morning, my blood pressure would be so low that I would be dizzy and out of breath just from getting ready to go to work or walking up the stairs. That is not normal. Normal cortisol levels should spike in the morning, give you the energy you need for the day, and then begin to wane in the evening so that you can fall asleep and sleep soundly. My balance was completely the opposite, and it was awful just getting through the day.
How can you balance your adrenals?
Obviously, I am going to say diet here. Increasing healthy fats (avocados, coconut oil, ghee, butter, etc.) and protein is important for supporting the adrenal glands. Eliminating caffeine and refined sugar are a must. Also, eating a high-protein breakfast within 30 minutes of waking is recommended.
In terms of lifestyle, making sure you are achieving quality sleep at night and limiting exercise is important. A high cardio workout will only exacerbate the problem here. Beginning the healing first, and then slowly adding in more gentle exercise would be helpful.
Some people have found help from supplements such as animal glandular, using adaptogenic herbs, as well as increasing Vitamins B & C. A word of caution with the adaptogenic herbs, I tried them and they actually magnified my symptoms. That is rare, but it is known to happen. In my case, I stopped using them.
But there is also a much simpler way to help balance your adrenal function…
It is sunlight. Dr. Alan Christianson, (an adrenal & thyroid specialist) recommends that we expose ourselves to direct sunlight for at least 30 minutes a day, within an hour of waking. Now, if I remember correctly, he lives in Arizona; so that kind of sunlight is just not accessible to a lot of us throughout the year. In that event, he recommends using a light box emitting at least 10,000 lux. (Source)
Snow birds would certainly have an advantage here – I guess we could claim accessibility to sunlight as a health benefit of RVing!!!
On the opposite side, at the end of the day, be sure to limit light. Remember a few weeks back when we talked about reducing blue light at night? Learn the free tip I gave to help you with that process. I love when we can use simple, free changes and see them come together for a bigger purpose in our overall health.
If you are interested in learning more about adrenal or thyroid health, then I would recommend checking out Dr. Alan Christianson’s website. He has a quick, online quiz you can take to see if you have any symptoms of adrenal problems.
Wishing each of you sunshine and wellness!