ARE MY ADRENALS IMPACTING MY ENERGY?
Our adrenal glands, nestled on top of our kidneys, these small, mighty glands produce hormones that provide us with energy, regulate our response to stress and maintain essential body processes.
When we encounter stressful situations, the adrenal glands release cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline into the bloodstream. These hormones activate our fight-or-flight response, which provides up with a burst of energy and the ability to keep going whilst we tackle the perceived threat. Our body is able to handle and regulate occasional stress, however chronic stress can tire out our adrenal glands and may lead to adrenal fatigue. This is where the adrenal glands struggle to keep up with excessive cortisol production, resulting in decreased energy levels, sleep changes, weight/metabolism changes and digestive changes.
When a practitioner is looking at causes of your low energy and fatigue, they will be looking at the health of your adrenal glands. They will ask a variety of questions surrounding your stress management, mood, energy levels through the day and sleeping habits. If necessary, a referral to obtain additional test results of fasting cortisol and DHEA might occur to ensure that your adrenal glands are working optimally.
How can I nourish and support my adrenal glands to improve energy production?
Maintaining optimal adrenal health comes down to stress management. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as regular physical activity, meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing exercise, and yoga. We can’t always take the stress out of our lives, however, we can try to establish healthy coping mechanisms to support how we perceive stress and manage stress. It might also be appropriate to seek additional support through a counsellor or psychologist.
Consuming a nutrient-dense diet that includes wholefoods, wholegrains, protein, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. It would be recommended to limit or temporarily avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar depending on the severity of your energy, and these substances are fast at depleting your energy stores due to their ability to release cortisol from the adrenal glands.
Trying your best to maintain a regular sleep schedule will help to regulate your body’s internal clock.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Keep your room cool, quiet and dark. Use blackout curtains, earplugs, or white noise to minimize disturbances if required..
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine by dimming the lights in the evening to promote the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone, read a book, have a warm bath, avoid exposure to bright lights or stimulating activities at least an hour before bed
Limit or avoid caffeine in the afternoon (e.g. no coffee from 2pm).
Engaging in regular physical activity can help to regulate our nervous system helping to improve stress management, mood and energy. Find activities that you enjoy and incorporate them into your routine.
If your energy levels are in need of support, seeking advice from a health practitioner is recommended. They will be able to provide individualised diet and lifestyle recommendations, as well as nutritional or herbal supplementation if necessary.
Jessica Neu is a degree qualified Naturopath and practices from The Sana Co seeing patients in clinic and online. To book your appointment with Jess click HERE