One of the most common health problems my patients wish to reverse is their constant fatigue.
Let’s face it, we’re all tired. Some of us are fat, sick, and tired. But, I’d be willing to bet 90% of us just feel exhausted.
There are all kinds of reasons for this fatigue. For one, many of us work (at the minimum) 40 hours a week. We have activities piled on top of activities. Not to mention the responsibility of caring for ourselves as well as those we love.
We’re moving faster as a culture than we did 100 years ago. We’re staying up longer, we’re drinking more caffeine, watching more TV, and we’re taking more medication, and it isn’t helping us at all.
All of this is working in combination to wear us down to the point where we feel tired beyond belief.
Well This is What’s Making Us So Darn Tired
What’s interesting about the lifestyle we live is how the cumulative stress has created a virtual tidal wave of people who run on fumes and who are just one cup of coffee away from falling asleep while driving.
The sad thing is this is what’s expected of us. It’s especially expected of Americans, and it’s a crying shame.
The truth is, this kind of over-exertion has taxed a very important bodily system to the point where it just wants to give up and quit.
Perhaps you’ve heard a horse will run as hard and as fast as it can until it dies. Well, that’s what we’re doing. We’re going and going and one of main systems in our bodies is liable to give up on us.
The system you’re going to be learning about is your adrenal system, which is made of your adrenal glands.
Your adrenal glands creates the hormone adrenaline (technically called epinephrine), norepinephrine, along with DHEA and Cortisol.
The adrenals are two little C battery-sized glands sitting right above your kidneys. And they’re responsible for creating your fight-or-flight response.
You’ve likely felt the effects of adrenaline as it runs through your body when a glass falls off the counter, or a car nearly sideswipes you. It’s an incredibly important hormone because it gives your body the ability to quickly enter and exit high-stress situations without incident.
The only problem is, we’ve flipped our adrenal glands “on” and use them like an all-night porch light when they’re only supposed to be a motion sensor-style light that’s on when needed and off when not.
This has created a condition known as adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is probably the biggest reason you’re not just tired, but even fat, sick, and tired (if you happen to be these things).
How does that work, you might wonder?
As you just learned, your body has been conditioned to keep your adrenals on for long periods of time (based on your lifestyle).
Aside from draining your body of the important hormone adrenaline, you also hijack other hormones to help deal with low levels of adrenaline. This puts your body in a crazy tailspin and then all-of-the-sudden you’re tired, can’t lost weight, and always seem to be fighting off something.
Take a look and see how this works.
How Adrenal Fatigue Keeps You Fat, Sick, and Tired
The presence of adrenaline is only supposed to last for short amounts of time. That’s why it’s called the flight-or-flight hormone. The longer you’re in situations that are stressful to you, the longer that chemical is being pumped throughout your body.
At one time, the conditions a person would encounter that required adrenaline were few and far between.
Now, we have far too many regular day occurrences that cause adrenaline to release. For instance when you’re driving in rush-hour traffic, your body is on high alert. Moving a 5,000 pound piece of metal down street at 45 mph while dealing with that yahoo next to you creates stress.
That stress is then dealt with via adrenaline.
As you move your car from lane to lane, blood rushes to your heart in greater supply, your pupils widen, you think a bit more clearly (because you have to), and your body is placed on edge to make sure you can deal with split-second changes in environment.
Keep that up for 20-30 minutes, and you’ve placed a large strain on your body.
Think about it, all of that was just on the way to work…
Then the stress continues at work and past work when you drive home.
No more is it fight-or-flight. It’s just fight all the time.
What happens after a while is your adrenal glands are just too “beat up”, and they don’t have enough adrenaline to give anymore.
Thus, you’re tapped out, and your body needs a way to deal.
That’s where the next hormone comes into play.
Discover Adrenaline’s Affect on Cortisol
Produced in the same gland as adrenaline is cortisol.
Now, cortisol is a hormone that’s meant to deal with the stress. Without cortisol, your body wouldn’t be able to deal with stress appropriately and you would eventually fall apart at the seams. That’s not an exaggeration.
You see, cortisol is responsible for keeping your immune system in a place of stasis. Without cortisol, your immune system would go crazy, and its allergic and inflammatory reactions would send you into conniptions.
It also works to help regulate appetite, energy levels, as well as helping you to resist the toll of infections, extreme temperatures and external injuries.
When your body experiences stress, not only does it release adrenaline to help you get away from the stressor that’s antagonizing you…it releases cortisol to help your body deal with the stress.
Well, as you can imagine, if you’re under stress all the time and your adrenaline eventually “wears out”, then you’re not going to have anything to buffer the stress with anymore.
Once that takes place, your cortisol levels will shoot through the roof, and elevated cortisol levels are as wanted as two rabid raccoons taking a shower with you. This is because elevated cortisol levels can lead to a series of very serious health problems.
- Muscle loss
- Weight gain
- Increased inability to fight bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, yeast
- Loss of bone density
- Decreased protein building
- Retention of fluid in the body
- Rampant spikes in blood sugar
The reason so many people are overweight, tired, and sick, is because their cortisol levels are way higher than they should be. It’s reaching epidemic proportions here in the U.S.
But, it doesn’t stop there, and we’re not out of the woods yet.
There’s one more important hormone you need to learn about and why adrenal fatigue is a death sentence for this very important hormone.
Last But Not Least, What Happens to DHEA During Adrenal Fatigue
Dehydroepiandrosterone or (DHEA) is often referred to as one of the main sex hormones (like testosterone and estrogen)
It’s produced in both the adrenals glands and the ovaries.
One of the functions of DHEA is to reduce the impact of elevated cortisol levels on the immune system. As you learned above, cortisol suppresses the immune system, so DHEA works to help the body continue on with healthy immune function.
When cortisol levels are up, DHEA levels are down. Both DHEA and Cortisol are inversely proportional to one another. One of DHEA’s primary purposes is to work with cortisol to help the body resist disease.
As adrenal fatigue continues, DHEA levels fall. This is bad news for both men and women as DHEA is an essential building block for the sex hormone testosterone. If adrenal fatigue continues for too long, your libido might suffer. That’s one reason adrenal fatigue is best to be avoided.
Not only that, but DHEA is also tied to:
- Protecting bone density
- Fighting “bad” cholesterol LDL
- Regulating energy levels
- Adding mental clarity
- Helping to regulate sleep
- Helping you recover from stress and trauma
As you can see, all three hormones are directly tied to one another, with the main point being: you need to protect your adrenal health if you can.
But, what can you do to keep yourself energized and ready for the day without worrying about adrenal fatigue?
I’ll let you know in the next article.