Now that summer is almost over with shortening days and typically a more rigorous routine, it is important that the adrenal gland is strong. This ensures the added stressors of increased workload, activities, lower light and temperature are managed well. It is common to see patients wanting more energy, sleep and being more susceptible to colds and mood swings at this time of year.
So, one of the tests we do is compare your adrenal glands function to normally functioning adrenal glands and if yours are weak, we look at ways to strengthen them. Another test we can do a saliva test.
It is extremely important that the adrenal gland is strong, because, if the adrenal glad is weak, it will solicit the thyroid to help it out, which can compromise the ability of the thyroid to function. This leads to low temperatures and poor metabolism, which can cause weight gain or hard to lose weight/feeling cold or tired. Therefore, it is extremely important to strengthen the adrenals at this time.
The adrenal glands release three main hormones from the cortex. The first group are called glucocortcoids, the main one being cortisol. This is released with any on-going stress, whether it is physical, mental or emotional and helps regulate sugars, but also reduces inflammation and allergic responses. The second main group is the ketosteroids, the main one being DHEA. It converts into our sex hormones- estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. The third group are the mineralcorticoids, the main one being aldosterone. These help regulate the mineral balance, especially sodium and potassium levels. If stress is on-going or long-lasting the balance of the hormones is upset and many areas may be affected.
The symptoms that tell me there is an adrenal problem are: low blood pressure, feeling dizzy on rising, having problems going or staying asleep, mood swings (anxiety, nervousness, sadness, poor motivation, frustration), poor energy, frequent colds/flus, poor digestive function (gas, bloating, alternating diarrhea or constipation) and hormonal imbalances (problems with heavy bleeding, skipped cycles, cramping, PMS and night sweats).
So, to strengthen and balance the adrenals we need to feed the adrenal gland what it needs to repair itself. The main raw materials are Vitamin C, Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (pyrodoxine), zinc, copper, magnesium and potassium.
It is critical to maintain potassium levels within the body by eating potassium rich foods such as avocado, bananas, fish, chicken, green veggies, dried beans, fresh fruit (especially those with pits) and lamb.
Vitamin C can be found in brightly coloured fruit and veggies, however, it is difficult to keep up with the demands of our lifestyles. Therefore, I often recommend supplementing it, using a neutral powder (it is often buffered to calcium, magnesium and potassium) so it isn’t too acidic. Ascorbic acid should be used sparingly.) The B vitamins are the highest in animal proteins such as fish, red meats (lamb/buffalo) and chicken.
Zinc is highest in raw nutsand seeds (almonds, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds). Magnesium is highest is whole foods, especially tofu, legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains and green leafy veggies. Often a high quality multi vitamin/mineral capsule will supply the extra amount needed with a high stress lifestyle, or some may need to be supplemented individually, depending on the individual.
Secondly, we need to balance our busy schedules with exercise as a stress reducer, a relaxation exercise such as yoga, qi-gong, meditation, and stretching or progressive relaxation.
Thirdly, herbs have also been found to help us reduce stress. I often recommend the replacement of drinks that are a stimulant and continually add stress to the adrenal gland, with relaxing herbal teas. There are many commercially available, such as Tension Tamer, Honey Chamomille, Licorice, Sleepytime and others. Oat straw and scullcap are often used in formulas. Ginseng (primarily Siberian) has been researched and been found to help restore the adrenal balance.
Fourthly, as aluded to above, we must try and remove anything that is causing on-going stress to the system. The biggest on-going stressor from an intake perspective is any stimulant such as coffee, teas (green, black, white), herba mate, honey bush, rooibos and colas. Many folks tell me they only drink it in the morning, however, the influence is there 24 hours.
The other is refined foods that contain white flour and/or sugar. These stress the pancreas, liver and adrenal glands, because they over-tax the blood sugar balancing system and stimulate an over-production of cortisol.
They also deplete the B vitamins and have little potassium or magnesium. As always, moderation is the key!!! (2-3 times per week). This should give you a good start on the approaching fall and winter to enjoy those winter sports and stay healthy!
So, if you would like to see whether your organs are functioning well, you should consider an appointment and organ function testing.
Call Dr. Brenda Gill at 250-352-3150 or 250-362-5035.