Has stress taken over your life? you know what I mean….
over busy, over committed, and overwhelmed can become your normal way of living, and your body and hormones can suffer for it! Chronic low grade stress is an epidemic for women these days, with the operative word being “low grade”.
I have women who come to see me in my Functional Medicine practice for hormone consultations and say they are very busy, but feel minimally stressed. However, when I test their adrenal glands I can clearly see that long term, “low grade” stress has taken it’s toll. I can see very high, or low, cortisol levels which is why they are fatigued, don’t have any energy or sex drive, can’t sleep at night, are depressed, have hot flashes, and suffer weight gain, especially in the belly. (Your adrenal glands are your “fight or flight ” glands are are supposed to help you with the occasional big stress, but now are turned on all the time for everyday stress, and that’s not a good thing)
Why is this so important? and what does stress have to do with your hormones?
The stress that you experience every day has everything to do with the condition of your hormones. If you are thinking about the main hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone (these are the sex hormones), they are a downstream product. The first thing that has to happen is you need cholesterol (at the top of the stream) to make hormones. Cholesterol then makes pregnenolone which is then makes all the rest of the sex hormones.
If you are stressed, the body in all it’s wisdom, deals with the most important thing first, the stress. Your body will pull from the pregnenolone to make cortisol to deal with the stress. When you have less pregnenolone your other hormones can not be made in the right amounts. This is how stress basically steals your hormones from you…..you get the idea, right?
I know you are probably thanking me for the science lesson, but, you really want to know what to do about it, so here are some tips to better manage stress and save your hormones…..
- Evaluate your stress levels. Even the busiest woman does know if she is out of balance. Do you have mild, moderate or severe stress in your life? Is is short term or will it be long term? What can you change in your circumstances, and what can’t you change? Awareness is key to healing.
- Make time for sleep. This is super important as sleep helps your body recover. The more stress you have the more sleep you need and don’t skip this! Sleep in a dark room with all electronics off, and make sure you go to sleep by 10pm as the most restorative sleep for your adrenal glands happens between 10pm and 2am.
- Sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed chemicalized foods are all culprits in draining your adrenal glands. Stick to whole foods, with good protein and vegetables to help heal your body. There are many, many healing herbs and supplements that can help heal your adrenals and adapt your body to stress, so that will be a subject for another blog….
- Seek help! Get your hormones tested, especially your adrenal glands and cortisol levels. This is done with an easy saliva test. Find a chiropractor, naturopathic doctor or medical doctor that practices Functional Medicine to get your testing done.
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