Imbalanced hormones can be a key component in why you can’t lose weight. This becomes more obvious as we age and the ability to handle stress and eliminate toxins decreases. Undiagnosed hypothyroidism has become rampant in our society. Even if your TSH looks “okay” by conventional medicine, if you have trouble losing weight and/or feel that energy is low, I encourage you to work with a physician who is willing to do a full thyroid panel which should include TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3 and TWO thyroid antibodies.
Stress may be the cause of low thyroid function and this is where adrenal dysfunction becomes the root of the problem. If thyroid medication was taken and left feelings of jitteriness, exhaustion and being out-of-sorts, that is a sign that stress is the cause of the problem and the adrenal issues must be addressed first.
So, what are the adrenal glands?
They are two glands that sit on top of the kidney. They are responsible for releasing cortisol which is considered a master hormone for the entire body. This hormone is responsible for controlling metabolism and how the body manages stress.
Bodies release cortisol from physical and/or perceived, please note the word “perceived,” stress. Physical stress occurs from some kind of trauma to the body from a stubbed toe, to surgery, to inflammation within the body as the body struggles to process toxins from our environment, manage blood sugar issues or deal with intestinal permeability, aka “leaky gut.” Stress may also be emotional such as struggles in our relationships, financial concerns and how we manage unexpected events – positive or negative.
When stress enters into a chronic mode, levels of cortisol stay elevated. The human body is not designed for this. In our ancestors’ time, elevated cortisol levels may have stayed high due to stress on the body from a famine or war. When our levels of cortisol are high, the human body protects itself by decreasing metabolism. If there is a famine situation, the body does not know where the next meal is coming from and protects itself from starvation by hanging on to what it has. Also, a time of famine or war is not an optimal time for having reproducing and the body responds by suppressing the sex hormones that would allow this to occur. It also leads to constipation because if you are running from the enemy, that is not a time to stop to have a bowel movement. Hopefully, you can see how elevated cortisol is related to so many of today’s issues.
Adrenals might be an issue when…
There is a problem getting out of bed in the morning. Cortisol should be at its highest in the morning because it is the hormone that informs the brain that it is time to wake up. If cortisol is elevated all the time, the body does not feel very different in the morning and it is a struggle to wake up and get moving.
You are frequently ill. Cortisol helps to regulate the immune system. If allergies, asthma, or frequent colds and flu are an issue, that is a sign that the immune system is suppressed.
Self-medication with sugar, carbs and caffeine to just get through the day. Those stimulants are used to stay awake when the body really needs to rest and heal.
Over-reacting to situations and not letting things go. Frequently, adrenal issues cause such a huge surge of cortisol that makes us angry and upset and causes to respond very strongly to situations that, if you step back, really are not that big a deal. This is another source of stress as well which feeds back into causing more stress.
What to do?
Explore food sensitivities. This can be a hidden stressor on the body. Most of us have some and these can be found either through an elimination diet or testing.
What stressors can be eliminated – or, at least, alter the perception of them. Is the job really that bad? Is the family dynamic truly dysfunctional? How can the attitude toward whatever your stressors are be altered?
Exercise – but keep it light. The body does not know the difference between running for fun and running because your life depends on it. Enjoy something like yoga, tai chi or walking.
Prioritize sleep! The body does most of its healing in those hours prior to midnight. Practice good sleep hygiene and go to bed early enough to wake up well before the alarm. Better yet, don’t use an alarm.
Start or strengthen a mindfulness practice. Examples are gratitude journaling, meditation and prayer. Whatever works for you.
Does all this resonate? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to start healing the adrenals.