Life can be a struggle at times and most of us experience extreme stress at some time or another. If our adrenals are constantly triggered to release stress hormones on an ongoing basis, the adrenals can become dysregulated. At times the adrenals struggle to pump out stress hormones when needed and can also secrete them at bedtime when rest is needed. This also has a knock-on effect on other functions inside the body and can lead to weight gain and, it makes it difficult to lose weight no matter what you try.
The adrenals are two walnut-shaped glands that sit on top of the kidneys that secrete hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine which regulate the stress response. These hormones have other crucial roles inside the body which includes supporting thyroid function. The thyroid regulates metabolism and when thyroid hormones become out of balance due to stress, everything slows down and weight increases.
Everyone is aware of psychological and emotional stressors on the body but other forms of stress that affect the adrenals are blood sugar swings, gut dysfunction, food intolerances such as gluten, chronic infections, environmental toxins, autoimmunity and inflammation. All of these trigger a stress response so if you are experiencing more than one of these then there could be more of an impact.
Common symptoms of adrenal dysfunction are tiredness, headaches, decreased immunity, sleep issues, mood swings, sugar and caffeine cravings, irritability, lightheadedness, eating to relieve fatigue and, dizziness from sitting/lying to standing. If stress has impacted the thyroid, symptoms can include weight gain, constipation, fatigue, sensitivity to the cold, brain fog, dry skin, brittle hair and nails, low mood and irregular cycles.
Adrenal stress can impact the thyroid without affecting the actual thyroid itself. On the other hand, autoimmune hypothyroidism occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid, often triggered by chronic stress so identifying which type of hypothyroidism is present is essential to support the condition effectively. In the case of autoimmune thyroiditis, stress hormones impact immune messengers which can cause the immune system to dysfunction. If there’s an intolerance to gluten, for example (it can also be other food components), the immune system can mistake the thyroid for gluten due to their similar molecular structure.
So what can you do?
- seek help from a professional
- all stressors must be removed or at the least greatly reduced for your adrenals to recover and for your thyroid hormones to function optimally again
- balance blood sugar and avoid all stimulants
- practice relaxation and stress reduction techniques regularly
- have more fun!
- remove anything from the diet that is causing inflammation
- replenish the body with adrenal supporting nutrients and foods
- fix any gut issues
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