What happens when you are halfway through your day, and your energy plummets? Often, people turn to coffee, chocolate, and energy drinks that may give you a lift in energy, but only temporarily. These foods create a massive surge in cortisol, which, in the long run, further depletes your ability to manage stress.
When Stress Wrecks the Body
It comes as no surprise that this stress is affecting our lives at epidemic levels, according to the results of 2014's NPR poll. In a survey of 2,500 adults in the U.S., 49 percent of participants said they had experienced "major" stress within the past year, with most problems related to health.1 Biochemically, stress does things in the body that eventually lead to the breakdown of tissue or to a dramatic disturbance in hormonal function. Because of this, many of our modern disease patterns are heavily related to the stress in our lives and how we manage it.
Weight gain, mood changes, low libido, and fatigue don't have to be considered typical of a busy American lifestyle. A tasty and nutritious fermented green drink like Vitality SuperGreen may improve energy levels, strengthen immunity, and encourage detoxification to help you maintain a healthy weight.
These are common disorders, like:
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune disorders, like celiac disease, hypothyroidism, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Gut disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome
- Hormonal imbalance, such as irregular menses or possibly infertility
While common, these conditions are typically at the end of the spectrum. Meaning, stress has been severe enough or chronic enough to lead to the breakdown of many systems within the body.
Chronic stress that goes unchecked for years can take its toll. Swedish scientists have linked long-term stress exposure to accelerated aging, while researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have pinpointed the reason chronic stress is known to cause disease — by compromising the body's ability to regulate dangerous levels of inflammation.2,3 The everyday effects of chronic stress can be far-reaching. Chronic maternal stress levels have been linked to preterm birth and higher instances of dental cavities in children.4,5
Yes, stress experienced early in life, even as early as in the womb, can have a devastating effect on the gut, as researchers discovered in 2015. Babies born to mothers who experience stress during pregnancy are more likely to have poor gut diversity, leading to a higher risk of intestinal problems and allergies.6 As researchers pointed out, babies need good gut bacteria to promote early development. While chronic stress over a lifetime can affect the body’s ability to regulate inflammation, opening the door to disease, the regulatory hormones produced by a healthy gut may help to thwart a collection of stress-response behaviors, including smoking, drinking, and over-eating.7
If you are under stress and are eating an unhealthy diet, watch out.
A recent study conducted by UC San Francisco was the first of its kind to find that a high-fat and high-sugar diet was more physically damaging to a person under high stress than to a person with low stress levels. High stress levels coupled with an unhealthy diet could lead to an even greater risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.8
Understanding Your Adrenals
The adrenal glands are small, walnut-sized glands that are located just above the kidneys and release hormones in response to stress. Some of us are better equipped to handle stress. The rest of us have adrenal glands that are overworked and tired. In other words, our adrenals are exhausted.
Because of the common societal pressure to push past the point of exhaustion, Dr. Sara Gottfried, Harvard-trained M.D. and New York Times best-selling author of The Hormone Cure, considers weakened adrenal function especially problematic for women. "Adrenal fatigue is the most common hormonal imbalance in women," she explains.9
Adrenal exhaustion leaves a person feeling tired, heavy, and susceptible to illness. When the adrenals are exhausted, they are no longer able to maintain appropriate levels of cortisol. Cortisol is secreted by adrenal glands in response to any stressful event, whether real or perceived.
When we are locked into an ongoing state of stress, we are responding to one small, stressful stimulus after another. Add to that other common stressors like poor diet, lack of exercise, irregular sleep, and long work hours — and you have a recipe for adrenal burnout!
When we internalize stress in a negative way, we are far more likely to feel sick, tired, and depressed.
Important Warning Signs of Adrenal Exhaustion
At some point, the adrenals can no longer support elevated levels of stress.
Before the adrenals fall fully into exhaustion, other aspects of the endocrine system are affected first. Signs of adrenal exhaustion are often related to one another.
Common warning signs to look out for include:
- Changes in mood
- Gut disorders
- Low sex drive or irregularity in menstrual cycle
- Weight gain
Cortisol levels rise and fall depending on what and when you eat. Remember, the key to adrenal health is keeping cortisol levels within their normal range. High cortisol contributes to stubborn weight gain. A study published in the Journal of Obesity demonstrated the powerful weight loss effect of lowering the stress response. Women who practiced mindful eating and stress-reduction techniques helped to prevent weight gain without dieting, even among women who were obese. The women who had the greatest reduction in stress levels also had the greatest loss in deep belly fat, associated with a higher risk of disease.10
When it comes to diet, stabilizing blood sugar is crucial since cortisol is released to manage blood sugar levels:
- Avoid excess sugar and carbohydrates.
- Eat regularly throughout the day and avoid eating late at night.
An excessive level of cortisol is often the real culprit that can keep you from losing weight.
Infection and gut disorders lead to inflammation and elevated levels of cortisol. The gastrointestinal system is one of the most common places in the body to suffer from low-grade inflammation and infection. When our inner ecology is out of balance, we can experience anything from heartburn to gas to bloating. Unfortunately, sometimes the gut remains symptom-free. Instead, there may be other signs of inflammation and irregular levels of cortisol, including hormone-related problems in women.
Other signs of adrenal burnout may be:
- Achy joints, stiff neck, tight shoulders, and low back pain
- Compromised immune function, leading to frequent illness
- Declining bone health
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Wrinkles and premature aging
Adrenal Fatigue and Weight Gain: 3 Quick Tips to Restore Adrenal Health
Those of us who are stressed, tired, and suffer from depression often have an irregular release of cortisol throughout the day. Adrenal burnout can affect mood, metabolism, and immune system function.
In order to stop adrenal exhaustion in its tracks, apply these three tips:
- Choose nutrient-dense foods that give authentic energy to your cells and supply your body with the power it needs to control inflammation.
The 7 Principles of the Body Ecology Diet can teach you the basics of nourishing the body to support the adrenals. While inflammation and infection typically begin in the gut, the consequences are almost always systemic if allowed to persist. Keep in mind that gastrointestinal problems are often closely related to poor adrenal health.
You can strengthen your adrenals by restoring your gut ecology first of all:
- Vitality SuperGreen literally gives the cells in your small intestine the fuel they need.
- InnergyBiotic can help to heal digestion by sweeping away disease-causing bugs and inoculating the gut with beneficial microorganisms.
- The Body Ecology Immune Power Protein Shake can support gut health and healthy weight loss at the same time — providing 15 grams of vegan pea protein per serving, known to reduce inflammation.
- Use tools that help to curb inflammation and gently detoxify the body.
The process of cleansing can make a big difference in adrenal health. For example, if your liver is damaged from poor diet, prescription drug use, or alcohol, you will have a harder time bringing your adrenals into balance.
The liver helps the body to metabolize and eliminate toxins, as well as hormones. An unhealthy liver can undermine an adrenal repair program.
When restoring adrenal health, it is essential to support the liver. You can do this with Body Ecology's Digestive Care Multi, which contains the Liver Power Cleanse formulated to cleanse the liver of toxic buildup while protecting and repairing liver tissue.
- Rebuild the adrenals.
The adrenals need minerals to thrive. Eat plenty of ocean vegetables and supplement with the highest quality blend of humic, fulvic, micro, and macro minerals and amino acids found in Ancient Earth Minerals. These organic compounds enhance mineral and trace element uptake and support detoxification, rebuilding cellular energy.
Remember, stress is mostly perceived. Adrenal burnout typically involves more than one lifestyle factor. Because diet is something that we can control, it is the first step that we can take in managing stress. A program that sets out to both energize and detoxify the body can help us safely navigate through adrenal exhaustion into a healthier, happier state of being.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
If you rely on coffee, chocolate, and energy drinks to make it through the day, you may get a temporary boost, but you'll also get a massive surge in cortisol. In the long run, this will make it even more difficult for your body to manage stress to support your health.
When the adrenal glands become overworked and overtired, it leads to adrenal exhaustion. You may feel fatigued, heavy, and susceptible to illness as the body is no longer able to maintain appropriate levels of cortisol. Common warning signs of adrenal exhaustion include weight gain, fatigue, mood changes, gut disorders, and a lower sex drive. Symptoms of adrenal burnout can progress as far as premature wrinkles, trouble sleeping, declined bone health, achy joints, and more.
To restore adrenal health and improve your quality of life, put these simple tips into practice today:
- Eat nutrient-dense foods that will give your body the power to control inflammation. Along with following Body Ecology’s 7 Principles, Vitality SuperGreen and InnergyBiotic can help to restore balance to the gut, and the Body Ecology Immune Power Protein Shake can support daily energy levels and reduce inflammation.
- Focus on cleansing to curb inflammation and gently detoxify. Body Ecology’s Digestive Care Multi, containing the Liver Power Cleanse, has been specially formulated to cleanse the liver of toxic buildup, while repairing delicate liver tissue at the same time.
- Rebuild your adrenals with essential minerals from ocean vegetables. You can get even more adrenal support from taking a supplement like Ancient Earth Minerals to aid in detoxification and restore cellular energy.
- "Stressed Out: Americans Tell Us About Stress In Their Lives." NPR.
- Denise Aydinonat, Dustin J. Penn, Steve Smith, Yoshan Moodley, Franz Hoelzl, Felix Knauer, Franz Schwarzenberger. Social Isolation Shortens Telomeres in African Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus erithacus). PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (4): e93839 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093839.
- Sheldon Cohen, Denise Janicki-Deverts, William J. Doyle, Gregory E. Miller, Ellen Frank, Bruce S. Rabin, and Ronald B. Turner. Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. PNAS, April 2, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1118355109.
- Inge Christiaens, Kathleen Hegadoren, David M Olson. Adverse childhood experiences are associated with spontaneous preterm birth: a case–control study. BMC Medicine, 2015; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12916-015-0353-0.
- King's College London. "Maternal chronic stress linked to more dental cavities in children." ScienceDaily.
- Maartje A.C. Zijlmans, Katri Korpela, J. Marianne Riksen-Walraven, Willem M. de Vos, Carolina de Weerth. Maternal Prenatal Stress is Associated with the Infant Intestinal Microbiota. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.01.006.
- Imperial College London. "Weight loss, quitting smoking and giving up alcohol may be aided by hormones from our guts." ScienceDaily.
- Kirstin Aschbacher, Sarah Kornfeld, Martin Picard, Eli Puterman, Peter Havel, Kimber Stanhope, Robert H. Lustig, Elissa Epel. Chronic Stress Increases Vulnerability to Diet-Related Abdominal Fat, Oxidative Stress, and Metabolic Risk. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.04.003.
- "It’s Not You, It’s Your Adrenals." Sara Gottfried MD.
- Jennifer Daubenmier, Jean Kristeller, Frederick M. Hecht, Nicole Maninger, Margaret Kuwata, Kinnari Jhaveri, Robert H. Lustig, Margaret Kemeny, Lori Karan, Elissa Epel. Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study. Journal of Obesity, 2011; 2011: 1 DOI: 10.1155/2011/651936.
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