A Natural Approach To Health
Eating For Adrenal Disorders
We had a question the other day about adrenal disorders.
Your adrenal glands are a pair of triangular-shaped organs resting on top of your kidneys.
Each gland normally weighs about 5 grams (slightly less than 1/5 ounce) and is made of 2 parts.
The cortex, or outer section, is responsible for the production of the hormones cortisone, cortisol, aldosterone, and DHEA.
The medulla, or central section, secretes adrenaline and norepinephrine.
Adrenaline, cortisol, DHEA, and norepinephrine are your 4 major stress hormones.
The highest levels of these hormones are released in the morning and the lowest at night.
Adrenaline speeds up the rate of metabolism and creates other physiologic changes designed to help your body cope with danger.
It’s made when your body is under stress.
Under extreme stress, large amounts of cortisol are released, which can lead to lots of health problems.
Disorders directly related to the adrenal glands include reduced adrenal function, usually referred to as low adrenal reserve.
The adrenals still produce enough hormones to keep you in a relatively normal state of health, but stressful situations increase your need for hormones which your malfunctioning adrenals can’t make, leading to anything from fatigue to total collapse.
Symptoms of reduced adrenal function can include weakness, lethargy, fatigue, recurrent infections, dizziness, low blood pressure when first standing, headaches, memory problems, food cravings, allergies, and blood sugar disorders.
If the adrenal cortex is seriously underactive, a condition called Addison’s disease may develop.
Symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, dizziness or fainting, low blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea, depression, craving for salty foods, moodiness, a decrease in the amount of body hair, and an inability to cope with stress.
You may also constantly complain about feeling cold.
Discoloration and darkening of your skin is common in people with Addison’s disease; discoloration of knees, elbows, scars, skin folds, and creases in your palms are more noticeable when these body parts are exposed to the sun.
Your mouth, vagina, and freckles may appear darker.
Addison’s disease is a chronic condition requiring lifelong treatment.
Fortunately, people with Addison’s disease can have a normal life expectancy if they get regular medical care.
Cushing’s syndrome is a rare disorder caused by excessive production of cortisol or by excessive use of cortisol or similar steroid hormones.
People with Cushing’s syndrome take on a characteristic appearance:
They’re generally heavy in the abdomen and buttocks but have very thin limbs, and they have rounded “moon” faces.
Muscular weakness and wasting of muscles are also characteristic of this syndrome.
Round, red marks mimicking acne may appear on your face, and your eyelids may appear swollen.
An increased growth of body hair is common, and women may grow mustaches and beards.
People with Cushing’s syndrome generally are more susceptible to illness and have trouble healing properly.
Thinning of your skin from Cushing’s syndrome often leads to stretch marks and bruising.
Other symptoms include fatigue, mood swings, depression, increased thirst and urination, and, in women, absence of menstrual periods.
If untreated, Cushing’s syndrome may cause extreme muscle weakness, poor skin healing, weakening of the bones resulting in osteoporosis, and increased susceptibility to serious infections like pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Adrenal problems cropping up in later life can be due to heredity.
In addition, refined carbohydrates in your diet, like sugar and white flour, deplete many of the nutrients required for adrenal support, especially the B vitamins.
Adrenal enzyme deficiency, vascular spasm, degeneration, trauma, nutritional deficiencies, pituitary disease, tuberculosis, toxic chemical attack, or even exposure to electromagnetic fields can affect the adrenals.
The functioning ability of your adrenal glands can be impaired due to extensive use of cortisone therapy for nonendocrine disease, like arthritis and asthma.
To deal with adrenal disorders it’s beneficial to:
*Drink 6-8 cups of purified water daily.
*The herb astragalus improves adrenal gland function and helps with stress reduction (don’t use if you have a fever).
*Milk thistle extract helps liver function, which in turn helps adrenal function.
*Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, particularly green leafy ones. Brown rice, legumes, nuts, olive and safflower oils, seeds, wheat germ, and whole grains are healthy additions to your diet as well.
*Eat deepwater ocean fish, salmon, or tuna at least 3 times a week. Limit tuna to once a week.
*Include in your diet garlic, onions, shiitake mushrooms, and pearl barley. These foods contain germanium, a powerful stimulant for your immune system.
*Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco, because they’re highly toxic to your adrenal and other glands.
*Stay away from fats, fried foods, ham, pork, highly processed foods, red meat, sodas, sugar, and white flour. These foods put unnecessary stress on your adrenal glands.
*Get regular, moderate exercise (at least 3 hours per week). This stimulates your adrenal glands and also helps relieve stress.
*Measure your waist circumference at the smallest width. Women should be less than 35″ and men less than 40″. If you’re over this number, you may be chronically overproducing cortisol, which forces body fat to appear on your abdomen. Following a low-glycemic-load diet can help maintain healthy adrenal function.
*Decrease your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, as well as your intake of fats, salt, and sugar.
*If you smoke, stop.
*As much as possible, avoid stress. Continuous and prolonged stress from a troubled marriage, job-related problems, illness, or feelings of low self-esteem or loneliness can be detrimental to your adrenal glands.
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