Symptoms of stress (including worry, low energy, headaches, stomach issues, insomnia, and a loss of sexual desire) can result from fear and uncertainty, change and disruption, or your perception and attitude about the constant flux of life.
The truth is, you cannot avoid stress, and everyone has different stress triggers. We know that daily and chronic stress can have a major impact on your health and well-being.
Have you maladapted to this perceived new norm? Are you (biochemically) on red alert and expecting the “other shoe” to drop any moment? Or, do you feel like Eeyore, the grey stuffed donkey in Winnie the Pooh… always tired, depressed, gloomy, or pessimistic?
While you can’t escape stress, you can manage your response to stress, by learning how your body is biochemically responding. Learning what phase of adrenal fatigue you are in and, most importantly, what science-based supplements and lifestyle changes can really make a difference in your life.
Healthy adrenal glands, which secrete stress hormones such as cortisol, are vital for optimal health and the management of autoimmune diseases. Chronic stress can burn out our adrenal glands until they turn to dried pieces of toast. Cortisol plays a large role in balancing the immune system by telling the body whether to go into “stress mode” and increase immunity efforts. When the adrenal glands release cortisol, the cortisol is accompanied by cytokines, which are inflammatory messengers.
High cortisol levels in the body reflect chronic inflammation, which leads to an eventual breakdown of the hormone system and the thyroid.
Common causes of elevated cortisol and cytokines include chronic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or hidden gut infections, such as parasites. Other causes of elevated cortisol levels include hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Keeping blood sugar stable is an important factor in managing cortisol as well.
Little Known Sources of Stress
Other factors are not commonly considered when people think of stress and place just as much of a burden on the adrenal glands. These include, again, blood sugar issues, gut dysfunction, food intolerances (especially gluten), chronic infections, environmental toxins, autoimmune problems and inflammation. All of these conditions sound the alarm bells in the body and cause the adrenals to pump out more stress hormones and, in turn, more inflammation, weight gain and fatigue.