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{Please welcome my good friend Lydia to the site today! Lydia is a Nutritional Therapist and the author of the Divine Health from the Inside Out site. If you’ve followed my site for any amount of time, you know that Lydia is not only a close friend, but she is also my NTP and has been helping me make great progress on my healing journey. She is an INCREDIBLE woman who really knows her stuff when it comes to health, especially the role minerals play in our bodies. Please give her a warm welcome to the site and stop by Divine Health and say hello!.}

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by Lydia Shatney
Divine Health from the Inside Out

How to combat the long term effects of stress?

Stress is something we all can relate to in our lives and not one of us can avoid it either.

Just this past week I took part in a live internet radio show on Voice America, with host Teresa Jungling. She and I discussed the implications of stress on one’s adrenal health. You can listen to that recording and learn the symptoms of adrenal fatigue as well as ways to keep your adrenal glands healthy all year round. Also, learn tips to combat the ongoing stress in your life!

Today, I’m going to share some of what we discussed on the show here in this post with you. However, you will hear a lot more covered in the radio show recording – listen here.

How Can Stress Negatively Affect Our Health?

First of all, it can deplete our body’s minerals.

Minerals are like our body’s “spark plugs”. They essentially keep our “battery charged  and stress burns through them very quickly. Unless we are replacing them through diet and/or supplements we won’t have the vitality or energy we need to function.

When stress dominates our body, it loses essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

Stress will also cause an increase in adrenal output of mineral corticoids. Stimulation of the adrenal glands tend to increase the secretion of hormones that cause a loss of minerals.

Mineralocorticoids are a class of steroid hormones characterized by their influence on salt and water balances, which also has a relationship with calcium. The primary mineralocorticoid is aldosterone.

When the stress response is ongoing, other minerals can actually build up in the body, such as potassium, sodium, and phosphorous. This is due to a change in intestinal absorption (since digestion takes a back seat when we are in fight-or-flight mode) and re-absorption by the kidneys of these elements.

This is how some types of high blood pressure can flare up, due to stress and the increase of sodium with a corresponding loss of calcium and magnesium. Prolonged stress can result in severe mineral deficiencies.

Stress also changes your metabolism and causes the body to retain minerals that are needed to stimulate, while at the same time lose nutrients/minerals needed to help calm the body.

Eventually, if the stress continues, the body will slowly lose its ability to adequately store sedative minerals. One such mineral would be magnesium.

Magnesium is particularly sensitive to stress. Stress also depletes chromium and zinc.

Without these minerals we just don’t function properly and end up with a variety of symptoms that make us feel worse.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Basically, adrenal fatigue is just a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level.

Actually the adrenals could be over-functioning or under-functioning, and both will diminish the actual effectiveness of the gland. Adrenal fatigue happens when your adrenal glands can no longer meet the normal demands of stress on the body (in various forms).

You may experience things like fatigue for no real reason, trouble getting going in the morning, a feeling of overwhelm or just feeling run down.

You may try to normal things like go on vacation or plan a party and things like that totally tax you and send you collapsing on the bed or couch.

Maybe you have a form of hypoglycemia that is more severe (called reactive hypoglycemia), where you feel extreme symptoms like dizziness when standing up suddenly, faintness, you may almost pass out from basic exertion, get blurry eyed in a large heavily populated building like a mega store, or you wake at night with insomnia.

Or you may get what I call “hangry” (crazy hungry and angry combined). Also, some people find they will crave salt or sweets.

People with adrenal fatigue live with a general sense of un-wellness, lack of joy, and normal vitality.

The range of adrenal fatigue can vary from very mild to very severe and on the severe end it can actually be life threatening.

How Do Our Adrenals Affect Other Areas of Our Body?

Our adrenals (and our thyroid) are our main energy producing organs and they influence all of the major physiological processes in our body.

They affect the utilization of carbohydrates/fats and the conversion of fats and proteins into energy, as well as the distribution of stored fat (especially around your waist and at the sides of your face), they play a role in normal blood sugar regulation, as well as proper cardiovascular and gastrointestinal function.

They also secrete both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant hormones that help minimize negative and allergic reactions to foods and environmental allergens (also alcohol and drugs too).

Basically, we need the adrenals (and thyroid) for everything.

Simply stated, without healthy adrenal gland function the body won’t experience good health.

Stress and the Cortisol Connection

Cortisol is essential to our health and maintaining balance and vitality. It’s actually called the stress hormone. Levels of cortisol should fluctuate throughout the day in a normal circadian rhythm.

Cortisol is secreted in response to stress (anything the body perceives as a stress or danger).

We need this function as a protective mechanism, however if this happens repeatedly over time it can weaken our natural response to keep producing more cortisol when it’s needed.

In some cases people’s bodies are so imbalanced they can’t produce enough cortisol when needed and in some cases people are producing too much. For example, maybe their body can’t return to normal after a stress response. This can be seen with certain mineral patterns and ratios in hair analysis testing.

Examples of symptoms of higher or prolonged levels of cortisol would be (and this would be in someone with adrenal stress or overactive adrenals, leading to poor energy levels):

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Dampened thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances, such as hyperglycemia
  • Decreased bone density
  • Sleep disruption
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Lowered immune function
  • Slow wound healing
  • Increased abdominal fat, which has a stronger correlation to certain health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body.

Examples of low cortiosol symptoms would be:

  • Brain fog, cloudy-headedness and mild depression
  • Low thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances, such as hypoglycemia
  • Fatigue – especially morning and mid-afternoon fatigue
  • Sleep disruption
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lowered immune function
  • Inflammation
  • Even low libido and apathy (when you start to not care about even the basics in life you probably have tired adrenals).

What Can Cause Adrenal Fatigue?

Causes of adrenal fatigue can vary, but generally speaking the body doesn’t have enough of the key macro-minerals left (such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium).

Whatever it took to deplete these to begin with essentially could be a cause.

  • It could be a lifelong stressor of some sort, whether emotional, psychological, or situational.
  • Demands of motherhood — just having babies can deplete a mom’s mineral stores.
  • Poor diet
  • A high stress lifestyle (like a workaholic, someone who parties all hours of the night with no sleep and drinks too much, or a student that works a job, burns the midnight oil to study and never slows down).
  • And the list could go on and on.

Some people are born with it because they get it congenitally from their mother who had weak adrenals. Or maybe the body has a structural issue that contributes to it.

The possible causes are endless really.

How to Combat the Long Term Effects of Stress

First off, I many years ago I found myself with severe adrenal exhaustion. You can read my story here. I still have tired adrenal glands but I’ve learned how to combat the stress in my life, manage it well, and feel pretty good on a daily basis.

I no longer have any extreme symptoms. My blood sugar is fine, sleep is great, energy is decent, no more allergies, my asthma is under control, blood pressure is not way low anymore, no chronic pain, aches/tight muscles or eczema.

I have to take really good care of myself in order to keep my health steady. It’s not something that I can do once and be done with. I know that the #1 reason I am not fully recovered is due to stress.

As a single mom with financial struggles, trying to get a business going, and really doing everything for my kids alone, well, it has been hard to fully recover.

So, let that be a message to everyone that stress is likely the biggest contributor to weak adrenals in today’s world.

In order for that stress to not wreak havoc on your health I highly recommend getting the right minerals and nutrients for your body (in addition to adjusting your lifestyle, getting more rest and taking on far less while you heal).

The best way to determine how your adrenal glands are currently functioning is through a hair analysis test so you can get the right nutrients needed to recover.

In this video, Jessica discusses some of her experiences with HTMA and she is also going to be doing more videos as she gets further into her journey. Also, don’t forget to check out her HTMA blog posts:

The right balance of minerals in the body goes a long way to helping you combat the long term affect of stress. Learn more by clicking the banner below.

What Are Good Foods to Eat to Support the Adrenals and Combat the Effects of Stress?

Generally speaking you want real whole foods:

  • Good quality proteins
  • Good fats (like butter, ghee, coconut oil, pastured eggs)
  • Lots of cooked veggies to provide the necessary nutrients
  • Some fruit is okay for some people
  • Small amounts of nuts/seeds
  • Starchier foods may need to be limited to some degree depending on the individual (starchy veggies are best then properly prepared gluten free grains and some legumes can be good for some)

If someone is in more of an adrenal stress stage (aka: ‘fight-or-flight mode’), they’ll need more fats, moderate proteins, and lower glycemic veggies.

If someone is in more of adrenal burnout or exhaustion stage, they’ll need more protein, some fat but not a lot (because it’s hard for them to actually process it essentially), and lot of carbohydrates (namely veggies) because they need a quicker source of fuel since their body is running very slowly.

Eating in an 8-10 hour window of time during daylight hours is best.

For those with adrenal fatigue or any serious hypoglycemia they need to eat 30 minutes to 1 hour after waking. Eating every 3 hours is usually good for them too. Some with not as extreme adrenal fatigue can go every 4 hours.

The over active adrenal folks that can eat more fat can go longer between meals but the under active adrenal folks may need more frequent snacks.

This is so important — if you don’t eat enough in adrenal fatigue you could make it worse. And, keep in mind that often people with adrenal fatigue find they have poor appetite.

To read a little bit more of how to eat to support the body and combat the affects of stress- check out this post:5 Keys to Keeping Your Adrenal Glands Healthy: Diet’.

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