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Are Your Adrenal Glands Stressed Out?

The adrenal glands are our stress glands that sit on top of the kidneys. There are two adrenal glands which are situated on top of the kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response through the synthesis of numerous hormones. Healthy adrenal glands secrete a number of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These allow our bodies to deal with physical and emotional stress.

Every time we experience stress the adrenal glands release cortisol into the blood stream so that we can deal with the fight or flight response. However if we are exposed to significant amounts of stress over a long period of time then these delicate glands can become exhausted and not work as efficiently.

The Stress Response:

When we experience physical or mental stress the adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream to prepare us for the stress. The heart beats faster, pupils dilate and sugar is sent to the muscles to deal with the stress. There are three stages of stress:

1) The alarm stage

This is the initial stage of stress. This stage experiences an over acting of the sympathetic nervous system where adrenaline and cortisol increase and blood flows away from the brain to the muscles.

2) The resistance stage

Overtime, if you are under constant stress your adrenal glands continually release adrenaline and cortisol to deal with it. They are going to full efforts to cope with the situation and often you can start to feel irritated and pressured.

3) The exhaustion stage

This is where the adrenal glands have been so over worked that they no longer function efficiently and optimally. They are exhausted which means the body can’t cope with anymore stress. As a result the person can feel exhausted, weak, burnt out and depressed.

Symptoms of Adrenal Dysfunction  

Difficulty falling asleep

Dizziness when standing up suddenly (especially in the morning out of bed)

Fatigue, apathy

Slow starter in morning

Clenching or grinding teeth

Poor appetite (no breakfast)

Digestive issues (low HCl, IBS…)

Salt craving

PMS, menstrual problems

Low libido


Muscle aches/cramps


Poor memory and concentration

Insomnia, poor sleep

Inability to deal with stress

Weight gain (around the middle)


Poor exercise tolerance and exhaustion afterwards

Autoimmune disorders

Lower back pain

How to Support Your Adrenals! 

Diet – Blood Sugar Balancing (cornerstone of adrenal support)

- Eat little and often – about every 3-4 hours

- 3 main meals with snacks in between

- Avoid refined carbohydrates

- Increase whole grains

- Good quality protein at each meal and snack

- Increase high fibre foods (water soluble especially as slows digestion, absorption of carbohydrates, increase cell sensitivity to insulin)

- Increase essential fats such as oily fish, avocados nuts and seeds.

- Drink enough water/fluids

- Avoid stimulants –alcohol, tea, coffee, cola drinks, chocolate, cigarettes

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3 years ago

Hi Rosie, Great article on stress and nutrition. Very informative.
This article links nicely with my stress article on here "Stress-The Silent Killer", and how osteopathy can help.
Have a read and let me know what you think.
I think the two articles compliment each other very well.