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Daily stress makes you gain weight. In the wake of constant tension and anxiety, the body’s adrenal glands (atop the kidneys) chemically signal fat cells to divide and conquer your waistline. Consequently, if you can drop your stress level, research shows, you can drop pounds, too.
Your adrenals are little hormone factories, producing adrenaline and cortisone as well as epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine, the so-called fight or flight hormones. In response to sudden perceived danger or intense fear, epinephrine floods the bloodstream causing sweaty palms, dry mouth, racing heart, the urge to urinate, nausea and/or vomiting.
The adrenal cortex, the outer portion of the glands, makes cortisol, corticosterone and testosterone. These hormones are stimulated by chronic stress and are controlled by precursor hormones released by the pituitary and hypothalamus glands in the brain. When continual stress and worry lead to troubled emotions, these feelings eventually translate into thought patterns that become disturbing beliefs. Those beliefs trigger a steady trickle of cortisol that promotes body fat.
Bodily Response To Stress
An important question: Are you even aware of your body’s response to stress? Can you identify the bodily symptoms you feel when you are recurrently stressed day after day?
Chronic, low-level stress derives from the emotional pain of past hurts, guilt or unresolved relationship problems which give birth to addictive or self-destructive habits.
All chronic stress forces your adrenal glands to sustain high levels of cortisol. That has two consequences: First, your adrenals focus on making cortisol and neglect their other hormonal duties. Then, if this goes on long enough, adrenal fatigue ensues and you begin to experience food cravings, weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, mood swings and depression. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of those who experience these symptoms suffer from significant adrenal stress or complete adrenal exhaustion.
Furthermore, sustained high levels of cortisone gradually hamper healing, impair digestion and hinder metabolism. Adrenal imbalance is a significant cause of fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression. And all these conditions can further contribute to unwanted weight gain.
Fortunately, the adrenal glands can be nourished and restored to normal function through lifestyle changes and herbal supplementation. Start with shifting your thoughts and physical activity:
- Perform a daily moderate exercise that you enjoy, like walking. Consider deep breathing for 10 minutes or a 10-minute walk with no stressful distractions.
- Take more time for yourself or with a loved one for any enjoyable activity or learning.
- Meditate. Tune into higher guidance.
- Get more rest. Your body needs time to heal.
- Keep a journal. Write your feelings to soft music and you’ll have a clearer life direction.
- Find the music you most enjoy and listen to it often to lift your mood and inspire your personal power. Possibilities: soft meditative music from Deva Premal or Enya; love-building songs from Michael Bublé, Kenny Loggins or Josh Grobin. Use iTunes or another online service to download and build your own song collection.
- Have more sex (better or more often) to create heaven on earth.
- Find inspiring audio instructions from authors such as Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Esther Hicks (Teachings of Abraham) and Michael Beckwith. They can inspire you to discover your own spiritual power and divine beauty.
- Engage in yoga, tai chi or other simple movements. These may grow your desire to seek professional assistance if you are chronically holding toxic painful emotions.
- Seek out energy healing therapists who practice reiki, body talk, quantum touch, emotional clearing, cranial sacral therapy and massage.
- Use guided imagery, often done with massage.
- Use acupuncture to block cravings. This usually lasts three days per treatment.
- Try hypnosis to program your mind for success and clarity.
Support Your Adrenal Glands For Weight Loss
Processed foods like cookies, cakes, doughnuts, white bread, pasta, soft drinks, sweetened drinks, candies and junk foods may taste good but they can compromise adrenal health. Although you initially derive a surge of energy and good feelings from these fake foods, those sensations quickly yield to a serious personal energy depletion, causing you to bottom out.
Additionally, high-carbohydrate foods often contain gluten, a grain protein (found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats) that often causes problematic auto-immune reactions. Many people with adrenal fatigue are sensitive to gluten and suffer lethargy or bloating in response to its ingestion. I suggest following a gluten-free diet for one month to see how your body responds. In addition, eating a diet filled with nutrient-rich foods can help you control your weight.
Supplements To Improve Adrenal Function
Herbal nutritional supplements known to assist in adrenal gland health include:
- Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng): Supports the adrenals and the immune system.
- Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice): Promotes proper cortisol secretion to maintain energy status. Take it in the morning and at noon to correspond to the body’s natural cortisol spikes.
- Silybum marianum (milk thistle): Helps support the liver in detoxification.
- Piper methysticum (Kava Kava): Strong sedative that helps sleep when anxiety causes insomnia.
Other supplements for the adrenals:
- Minerals: Calcium, magnesium, and the trace minerals zinc, manganese, selenium and iodine provide stress-reducing effects in the body to lessen your cortisol output.
- B complex and B 12 injections (or high oral doses): Taken for two to four months to reduce stress.
- Phosphatidyl serine: Supports healthy nerve and brain tissue.
- DHEA (5-Dehydroepiandrosterone) compounded, 15 mg to 50 mg daily: Supports adrenal function and is sometimes used to fight depression.
- Essential fatty acids such as krill oil, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, raw nuts and seeds: One tablespoon of oil daily helps decrease the inflammation process.
- CoQ10: Aids cellular energy production.
- L-glutamine, L-cysteine: Amino acids that regulate cell growth and support healthy lung function.
- Melatonin or 5-HTP (serotonin precursors): Aids sleep and pain tolerance.
Lastly, I suggest, if you can, avoid the synthetic prescription drugs Ambien, Halcion (a phenothiazine) and Amitriptyline (a tricyclic). These synthetic chemical drugs will not cure your insomnia, anxiety or depression. Seek to find healthier methods to overcome such symptoms when at all possible
Nourishing your adrenals and scaling back your stress offers effective ways to produce lower numbers on your scale. Best of all, you can accomplish this all-naturally, without drugs or prescriptions.
To your most peaceful health,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
Editor, Easy Health Digest