Adrenal Enhaustion: A National Epidemic
It seems that everywhere you go, folks are having trouble with their hormones. It doesn’t seem to matter if the person is male or female; although women do seem to voice their challenges more readily than men!
Men are certainly having their share of issues as well even if they don’t talk about it .. just note the number of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) pharmaceutical ads on the TV! I realize that ED indicates cardiovascular problems, but the fact is that hormones going haywire (like insulin which is a hormone) is the likely precursor to the circulatory problems. Men with a normal fasting blood glucose simply do not suffer from ED like men who have Metabolic Syndrome.
It is quite obvious at least to me that our nation is suffering from a national epidemic of adrenal exhaustion. Most people can’t even seem to get out of bed and start their day without a large infusion of caffeine. This is not normal, folks! There is a Starbucks or a coffee cafe of some kind on nearly every corner and everywhere you go candy is on display so people can keep the sugar and caffeine fix going all day long. Here’s a fact that cannot be ignored: there is no quicker way to age your body than to drink coffee and consume refined sugar.
It is quite shocking how quickly heavy coffee drinkers age (the get grey hair so young!), and I tell everyone I know who drinks it to get off it to improve their health. Coffee is an adrenal gland killer and you simply will not have the success you seek in solving your hormone problems without getting it out of your life completely. Even decaf coffee has its health challenges. This article details the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and drinking decaf coffee.
It also appears that coffee drinking is associated with increased estrogen levels. In our chemical filled world with estrogen mimickers everywhere, this is not good news. Eliminating coffee from your diet is a must if you want normalized hormones (1).
Tips for Recovering from Adrenal Exhaustion
In today’s blog, I will give you a few tips for starting yourself down the path of hormone health. But, I will also warn you that entrenched hormonal challenges are very difficult to rectify and will likely require the guidance of a naturopathic physician. The good news is that you can get a long way down the path yourself with simple dietary changes. Here are a few to get you started.
Get off all Corn Syrup to Save your Adrenals
The very first step to combating hormone issues is to get yourself and your family completely (that means 100% – no exceptions) off of corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. This includes agave syrup, which is processed similarly.
Go through your pantry and throw away everything that has either of these items listed as an ingredient. If you start at one end of a regular grocery store and work your way to the other side reading ingredient labels, you would be shocked to see that the vast majority of processed foods contain this deadly ingredient. Why are corn syrup and HFCS so bad for your hormones? This type of sweetener quickly causes insulin resistance (note the number of overweight, diabetic kids these days) and encourages fat to accumulate in your middle. Belly fat is REALLY bad, folks. Belly fat and a large waist measurement quickly leads to insulin resistance and Metabolic Syndrome with the accompanying risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
The good news is that avoiding corn syrup and HFCS is relatively easy. Just cut out soda (are you STILL drinking this stuff or even giving it to your kids? Shame on you!), and start buying your food at a healthfood store, as most products in a healthfood store do not contain corn syrup and HFCS. These healthfood store alternative products may contain refined sugar, but refined sugar is not nearly as hormonally disrupting as corn syrup/HFCS.
Slay the Sugar Monster
Once you have weaned yourself off of corn syrup/HFCS, you can get to work eliminating refined sugar from your life. This will go a long way toward resolving intractable symptoms of adrenal exhaustion. This article lays out the steps to get off sugar for good, indulging in only natural sugars a few times a week and keeping overall sugar consumption under 36 grams per day to keep immunity strong.
Getting yourself off refined sugars will rest your adrenal glands considerably. You will notice your energy levels improve steadily taking this step toward hormonal wellness. The key to energy is steady insulin; no more peaks and valleys when refined sugars are out of the picture!
Zap the Caffeine Habit
The next step is to eliminate the caffeine habit. Caffeine is another adrenal killer and is very aging to the body. Coffee and energy drinks are the worst of the worst when it comes to caffeine. You simply must get off of it, no excuses! And don’t get sucked in by the arguments that coffee is loaded with antioxidants or all those “sponsored by the coffee industry” studies showing coffee benefits. This article gives you some delicious options for natural wake-me-ups and healthy coffee substitutes like a dandelion latte.
And, did you know that caffeine can contribute to back pain issues indirectly related to adrenal health?
Tea, either white, black, green, matcha or oolong, is much less of a problem as tea contains the amino acid l-theanine that greatly slows caffeine absorption. And, if you are pregnant and drinking coffee .. well, don’t be surprised if you have a colicky infant that doesn’t sleep well. Infants can experience caffeine withdrawal too. Remember, this stuff is a drug!
Be careful of yerba mate too. Most folks don’t even know that one cup of this popular herbal tea from South America contains almost as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Sleep and Exercise both Critical to Adrenals
The last two tips for helping to normalize your hormones and resolving adrenal exhaustion is getting good quality sleep and regular exercise – but not too strenuous (no marathons or triathalons!) You simply must get decent sleep to normalize your hormones. It’s not only the amount of sleep, but when you sleep that is important. For example, your gall bladder flushes between 11pm and 1am each night. If you are not sleeping during this time, the toxin flush does not happen which can cause a backup of toxins in your liver. This can further destabilize your hormones, so get to bed by 10pm!
The best type of exercise for normalizing the hormones is rebounding. Rebounding helps the stimulate the flow of the lymphatic fluid around the body which assists greatly with detoxification and hormone normalization.
I realize that the topic of adrenal exhaustion and hormonal imbalance is extremely complicated and is a multi-year journey for those with seemingly intractable issues. Despite the complexity of the subject, there are still a few, basic lifestyle changes that can make an incredible impact on the normalization of your hormones. Hopefully, this brief blog will motivate you to take action with the most basic steps required for hormonal wellness to bring out the happy, healthy, vital you that you know is inside!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.