But first off, what do I mean by stress?
Most people think of just the psychological or emotional when we talk about stress, but there are many forms of stress on the body including physical stressors too, including:
Lack of sleep
Hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose tendency)
Intestinal problems, poor digestion
Poor food choices and lack of fresh food
Pesticides and herbicides in food
Chemicals in water
Poor teeth and gum decay
Heavy metal burden
Stimulants like alcohol, tea, coffee, drugs
Decreased immune function
Trauma and shock
Death of a loved one (human or animal)
Surgery and injury
Constantly driving yourself or pushing too hard
Trying to be perfect (wife, mum, employee, boss, daughter, friend etc)
Staying in a no-win situation over time
Lack of enjoyable and rejuvenating activities
And I've no doubt missed others!
A stressed body, over time, cannot be a healthy body.
And all of these stresses, over time, are picked up by the CNS (central nervous system) and influence the release of cortisol from the adrenals.
If the adrenals are continually being asked to respond to stressors, the adrenals eventually tire.
The length of time this will take is different from person to person depending on factors such as nutrient status, lifestyle factors, levels of underlying stress and inherited factors.
Once this happens, when you get stressed there is no longer enough cortisol released in response to the stressor. This can eventually end in anxiety and if left to continue, in exhaustion and depression.
And when our bodies are chronically stressed, over time, it can impact everything including our digestion, metabolism, hormones, reproductive system, thyroid system and much more.
So how do you know if you have adrenal distress or dysregulation (aka adrenal fatigue)?
Firstly, you might notice that you are hungrier between meals - one of the functions of the adrenals is to stabilise falling levels of blood sugar and if this isn't happening efficiently, we start to become hungry between meals.
We might be drawn to stimulants like tea or coffee, cigarettes, alcohol or sugar and carbs to counteract this instead.
Some might turn to manic exercising or taking on more and more responsibilities to temporarily make them feel better.
Other symptoms that might indicate your adrenals may be tired are fatigue itself, inflammation and arthritic pain, poor immunity (catching colds and coughs easily or getting infections regularly), type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disorders, chronic lower back pain made worse by stress or fatigue, pain after manipulation and chronic fatigue syndrome.
So how do we spot if we have adrenal fatigue? What do we look out for and how do we confirm it?
Firstly there are a number of things we can look out for including:
Being a night person
A calm exterior but a troubled inner self
Becoming jittery on caffeine
Tendency to get keyed up when stressed and difficulty calming down
A binge drinker who becomes the life and soul at a party
Low blood pressure
Dark rings under the eyes
Overeating and weight gain
Afternoon headaches or headaches after eating
Needing to wear sunglasses
Feeling dizzy when standing up quickly
Of course, these, individually, can be caused by other things too, so it's important not to self-diagnose, but these are indicators that all may not be well.
The best way to determine if your adrenals are fatigued is to run a hair mineral test, which gives key indicators of what stage of stress a person is under, and how well the adrenals are coping (or not).
This is where I am different to other menopause practitioners, as this is my starting point (alongside a full health questionnaire to look at body systems including gut health and detox capacity, and of course, a food journal).
There are other tests that can determine cortisol production and pattern throughout the day, and these can be very helpful too, but I like to start with the mineral test as it is more cost-effective and gives us a whole host of other information, on top of adrenal health indication.
I use the mineral test as a foundational tool, and to direct me on how to help my client in the best way I can.
If you'd like to find out more about how stress affects us, plus the other root causes of most symptoms during your 40s and 50s in the perimenopause and menopause years, make sure to join my next Masterclass
It's called - The Little Known Secrets to Recover Your Energy, and Eliminate Belly Fat (and other Common Symptoms).
You can reserve your free place on the MasterClass Here. You can reserve a free place on the MasterClass Here.
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