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Adrenal Fatigue and Disorders

By Amanda Beckner CN, HHP, Ph.D.

The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and composed of two parts. The outer section, the adrenal cortex, produces hormones that are vital to life, such as cortisol (which helps regulate metabolism and helps your body respond to stress) and aldosterone (which helps control blood pressure). The inner region, or the adrenal medulla, controls hormones that help you cope with physical and emotional stress including epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline).

When your adrenal glands are stressed and not functioning correctly, you may experience signs of fatigue, tiredness, headaches, food cravings, food allergies, forgetfulness and blood sugar disorders. If the adrenal cortex is seriously underactive, Addison’s disease may occur. Symptoms include low blood pressure, depression, craving salt, lack of appetite, dizziness/fainting, nausea, moodiness, and the feeling of not being able to cope. Cushing’s disease (or hypercortisolism) is another adrenal disorder caused by excessive production of cortisol which is typically brought on by steroid hormones. Cushing’s patients present with a rounded moon face, heavy abdomen and buttocks, but very thin limbs.

Poor nutritional habits, smoking, and drug and alcohol use are some of the primary factors that contribute to adrenal failure. Extensive use of cortisone for pain can also affect the functioning ability of the adrenal glands. Long-term use of this drug causes the adreanal gland to shrink in size; stress can also play a role. When we talk of stress, we hold on to emotion in our organs. As the body becomes weaker and emotions become believed and more intact within our cells and organs, stress can become a major contributor to adrenal breakdown and further increase the risk of additional disease.

If you feel you are experiencing adrenal disorder, seek the advice of a qualified health care practitioner. Adrenal support supplements are available and may contain these recommended vitamins: B-complex, vitamin C with bioflavonoid (3,000 to 10,000mg daily), L-tyrosine (up to 500mg daily), raw adrenal glandular, raw liver extract, raw spleen glandular, raw pituitary glandular, calcium with magnesium and D, potassium (from 99mg to 800mg depending on severity), and zinc (only 20mg daily).

Helpful herbs include astragalus which can aid in stress reduction and improve adrenal function, echinacea which can protect the tissues from bacterial invasion, and milk thistle which cleanses and aids liver function.

Those experiencing adrenal fatigue should consume green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, brown rice, legumes, nuts, garlic, onions, olive oil, seeds, wheat germ and whole grains (sprouted preferably), wild-caught salmon or deep water ocean fish up to 3x per week.

Items to avoid include alcohol, caffeine, fried foods, meats, additives, sugars, and unhealthy fats. Excess fat is a problem for adrenals. A balance of quality proteins, complex carbohydrates and quality fats such as organic coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts/seeds should be consumed. Fats to avoid include excessive saturated fats, most polyunsaturated fats, transfats, fried fatty foods, etc.

Maintaining both mental and emotional balance and eating a nutrient-dense diet while avoiding wrong foods can correct the adrenal function and allow the body to once again work as a whole.

Dr. Beckner is the owner of Your Body Code personalized nutrition and wellness programs in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 341.BODY(2639). For free recipes and more information visit her on Facebook and on the web at www.yourbodycode.com

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