‘Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older’
Stress is ubiquitous in the modern lifestyle, and for many of us is unavoidable, and therefore how we manage it is very important.
How does stress influence our body’s physiology and health?
Our body’s stress response was designed to enable our ancestors to deal with acute life-threatening situations requiring them to ‘fight or ‘flight’. However, these days our worry about finances or family or deadlines triggers the same physiological responses, but now on a chronic basis which is detrimental to the body and results in stress-related diseases.
Your adrenals are designed to be very responsive to changes in your inner physical, emotional and psychological environment and numerous factors can interfere with this finely tuned balance. This means that too much physical, emotional, environmental and/or psychological stress can deplete your adrenals, causing a decrease in the output of adrenal hormones, particularly cortisol. With each increment of reduction in adrenal function, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive.
Adrenal dysfunction occurs when the amount of stress exceeds the capacity of the body (mediated by the adrenals) to compensate and recover from that stress. Once this capacity to cope and recover is exhausted, some sort of imbalance and fatigue occurs.
What factors can contribute to the onset of stress?
A number of lifestyle components can contribute to this picture:
- lack of good quality sleep
- nutrient insufficiency
- excess stimulants
- constant driving forward
- focusing on perfection
How can Nutritional Therapy benefit me?
Functional testing such as the salivary Adrenal Stress Profile can provide valuable insight into your levels of cortisol and DHEA. The results can then inform a targeted protocol including diet, supplements and lifestyle.
Nutrition plays an important role in adrenal support by providing the necessary nutrients required by the adrenal glands, in particular B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, chromium and vitamin C. And don’t forget essential fats in the diet which provide the building blocks for the stress hormones.
So what you eat is crucial, but when you eat is just as important. People with adrenal hypofunction very often have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), so structuring the diet to support balanced blood sugar levels can also be very helpful.