The adrenal glands are little bean-like glands situated on top of your kidneys. They are very small, but their role in our well-being, hormone balance, weight distribution, and overall health is huge.
They produce numerous hormones that balance our blood pressure, water balance, salt balance, and kidney function.
Most of all, they make two very important hormones that affect not just our weight, but how we think, react, and live our lives. These two hormones are adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol.
Adrenaline is the hormone that saves us from imminent death. It activates our sympathetic system under dire circumstances and provides the backup for the fight-or-flight mechanism we are so familiar with but think is just cortisol mediated.
Adrenaline is a short-acting hormone. It makes our bronchi dilate so we can work out better, but when we run out of it, we are left drained and ready to drop.
Cortisol, better known as the ultimate anti-inflammatory hormone — and constantly confused with steroids (FYI: All hormones are steroids) and other hormones — is the fight-or-flight hormone.
It sends us into a panic mode and tries to keep us from getting hurt, constantly draining our body of sugar, draining the adrenals and all body functions, while protecting us from real or perceived enemies.
The more cortisol you make over the long run, the more you are draining your adrenals and the more likely you are to get sick and put on weight around your middle.
Learning to deal with stress, to not react, to stop investing energy into worthless causes and situations is the only way to stop the adrenaline and cortisol release and stop from gaining weight.
Rest is the only real treatment for adrenal fatigue. Once your adrenals are drained, you can use supportive supplements like adrenal cortex extract and even small doses of cortisone. But in the long run, the best help for your body is rest.
The importance of sleep is so underestimated by people that it is frightening to someone like me — who focuses on keeping people healthy and thriving — to see how many of my patients don’t even know they are shortchanging themselves when it comes to sleep.
They do not understand the connection between sleep and weight gain, adrenal drain, and getting old, fat, and sick.
Posts by Erika Schwartz, M.D
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