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Let’s start with an example. Imagine that your job is to roll a gigantic boulder up a hill each and every day. Each morning the boulder has rolled down the hill and your job begins again. This is somewhat comparable to the enormous task that your adrenal glands are expected to accomplish continually. The demands of modern life have created a stress upon the adrenal glands that our grandparents could not have imagined. With modern times bringing in more stress, people are noticing that they are more and more sleepy during the day or physically fatigued. This article shares some information on what the adrenal glands do, the importance of adrenal glands, and how to better maintain them.
There are three major responses your adrenal glands have throughout your everyday actions. We’ll call the first one “stressors” (events that cause stress). When “stressors” attack the body, the adrenal glands respond in three ways. The first stage is the “alarm” stage. This causes the adrenal glands to go into action. Adrenaline is released and the body attempts to become ready for any challenge. Some of the effects of this additional adrenaline include: alertness due to increased heart rate, constriction of blood vessels, increased blood pressure, restricted breathing, increased metabolism, dilation of the pupils in the eye, and limited digestion. This stage is often referred to as the body’s “fight or flight” response.
The second response is what we will call the “resistance” stage. The body now prepares for a longer duration of the experience. Things are going to continue longer than originally expected. Different hormones are released, like corticosteroids. This produces long term energy after the glucose (sugar) has been depleted. The body retains sodium so that high blood pressure can be maintained. Perspiration cools the body in preparation for added heat that might be experienced. If stage one could be considered the “battle” phase, this is the “war” phase.
Stage three is the “exhaustion” or “burned out” stage. At this point the adrenal glands become too tired to do much of anything except the bare essentials. Other functions suffer because these issues are not considered to be absolutely necessary for survival, but eventually the combined effect of this reduced adrenal activity threatens the body as a whole. This is when you feel exhausted, sleepy, and out of energy.
If we are walking through the forest and meet a Grizzly bear, it is essential that all of the functions mentioned come into play immediately in order to survive. Normally, we would escape the situation and everything would soon return to normal. Today’s world, however, exposes us to an entire extended family of Grizzly bears every day. These threats appear in the form of traffic jams, soccer and little league schedules, loud noises, air pollution, financial disasters, potential diseases, using technology and the list goes on and on. Where trauma was an occasional experience in the past, it has now become a “way of life”. Some of it is real, some of it is imagined, but the adrenal glands don’t always know the difference. Additionally, some prescription drugs, like cortisone have been known to threaten the adrenals down the road.
We will now talk about the nitty gritty. Each of the two adrenal glands are seated on top of the kidneys and resemble a tiny chicken breast. The outer surface of the gland (the cortex) regulates salt and water balance by controlling the amount of sodium and potassium which may be absorbed by the body. The substances which control this are called mineral corticoids. The primary one is aldosterone. The inner part of the gland secretes glucocorticoids, which manage the blood sugar levels. The major glucocorticoids are cortisol and adrenaline, also called epinephrine and norepinephrine. In summary, the process that happens in healthy adrenal glands helps your energy levels.
When the adrenal glands begin to fail, some of the symptoms that become evident may include chronic fatigue, poor sleep quality (especially waking up in the “wee hours” of the morning), poor digestion, irritability, and allergies. All of these effects require us to somehow reduce our stress levels and/or build up the adrenal glands health. Some ways to reduce stress may be harmful in the long run, while others provide great health supportive benefits. Examples of potentially harmful ways to reduce stress include: drugs, overeating, smoking, excessive television, outbursts of temper, excessive shopping, and excess alcohol, etc. These ways may seem to help temporarily, but we all know that the long term effects of such choices create troubles. Examples of potentially health supportive stress reducers include: getting quality sleep, regular exercise, controlled breathing exercise, organization, naps, and eating healthy. Implementing just a few of these is easier said than done.
One of the most important things we need to do is learn how to nourish and feed our adrenal glands. Some of the foods that have shown ability to do this, when properly combined, are Eleuthero, Licorice, Astragalus, and Ginseng. These herbs in addition to a much wider range of active herbs is vital in sustaining your adrenal glands to combat the added day to day stress we live in. Pure Action formulates the highest quality, carefully balanced blends of herbs that support our adrenal glands that we know of. This masterful blend called Alive & Well has been recommended to our customers for the past 25 years. Taking Alive & Well capsules in addition to doing your best to doing stress reducers will give your adrenal glands the advantage your body will thank you!
Until we live in a perfect world, stress is going to happen. Our job is to minimize its effect as much as is humanly possible. Adrenal glands are one of the keys to a healthy and energetic life. Feeding them is more important than you can imagine. “And at the end it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”- Abraham Lincoln