Why Nurturing Your Adrenals Is The Key To Optimal Health

mgb Class Instructor & Nutritionist By Jessica Sepel
mgb Class Instructor & Nutritionist
Jessica Sepel is nutritionist and health expert who specializes in disordered eating.
Medical review by Sheeva Talebian, M.D.
Reproductive Endocrinologist
Sheeva Talebian, M.D., is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist. She graduated from Columbia University and obtained her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Taking good care of your adrenals glands is the key to optimal health, longevity, a good weight, and happiness. A rested body is a healthy body!

What are adrenal glands?

Adrenal glands are endocrine glands that sit at the top of the kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for releasing hormones in response to stress.

They're also involved in manufacturing numerous hormones, regulating blood sugar, regulating the body’s mineral supply, producing and maintaining the body’s energy levels in conjunction with the thyroid, and producing stress-monitoring hormones.

Two of their most important hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are responsible for the fight-or-flight response. Adrenaline deals primarily with short-term stress while cortisol is produced as a result of both acute and long-term stress.

Prolonged stress, whether as a result of emotional, environmental or physical causes, can interfere with adrenal health. Initially, it results in chronically elevated cortisol levels, which can lead to weight gain, especially around the midsection.

Prolonged stress can also cause blood sugar imbalances, thinning skin, muscle atrophy, memory loss, high blood pressure, dizziness, hot flashes, night sweats, excessive facial hair, and other masculinizing tendencies. Overworked adrenals eventually crash, leading to adrenal exhaustion, where the body is unable to maintain adequate adrenal hormone production.

And then you can say hello to extreme fatigue (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), irritability, inability to concentrate, frustration, insomnia, addictions to either sweet or salty foods, allergies, nervousness, depression, anxiety, diabetes, and headaches…to name a few.

I was adrenally exhausted, and you may be as well. Unfortunately, I find that most women these days are dominated by our sympathetic nervous system: the flight and fight. I personally believe this is one of the main causes of weight problems.

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So here are my top 10 tips to nourish your adrenals: 

1. Schedule and commit to regular deep breathing exercises. 

Aim for 10 to 20 diaphragm breaths every morning and every night. With the guidance from a health professional, start to take adrenal herbal supplements. I recommend: Adrenal formula that contains Withania/Siberian Ginseg/Rhodiola/Licorice/Dandeloin leaves A possible liver supplement may help too!

2. Learn to love restorative exercise. 

Some ideas: yoga/Pilates/qi gong/tai chi at least two times a week. Doing them daily would be optimal!

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3. Spend a few minutes a day in solitude (away from the phone). 

This is a good time to write in your gratitude journal and be grateful for 5 things. This really relieves stress for a lot of people. Try it!

4. Sleep. 

Try to get 8 hours for rest and repair (and hormonal balance).

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5. Eat wholesome foods, please!

Yes I do believe in supplementation, but of course we can nourish ourselves very much through food. Rid your diet of the nasty 5: caffeine, alcohol (alcohol is not bringing good into your life), salt, soda and sugar! And say hello to good sources of protein, complex starch, nuts & seeds, low GI fruits (berries are my fav) and lots and lots of dark greens (they contain great amounts of B vitamins).

6. Cut back on coffee. 

(I’m sorry!) Lets just focus on coffee here for a sec... those feeling exhausted and anxious, I know you think that cup of coffee will lift you up, but please believe me it won't! Your body has enough adrenaline being pumped. It's fine to have a coffee once a day, but I'd love it if you could cut it out for a week or two and see how you feel….you may start to realize you are calmer, sleep better and are a nicer person :)

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7. Take a daily probiotic. 

When your gut is healed, health will naturally improve. This is something I recommend always!

8. Meditate. 

Meditation is essentially just brining awareness to your daily life. Study after study has shown that meditation can drastically reduce stress. So invest in this!

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9. Learn how to say "no"

Hmm you may be wondering where I am getting at with this one, but this is a major cause of stress for people. I say no to social arrangements when I am feeling overwhelmed and instead I choose the time to lay low, read, walk or go for a massage. Your friends will be there for you – if you can’t go to that party then arrange to meet for a walk or some tea! Go to yoga together!

10. Enjoy! 

Now enjoy a calmer and happier life!

Jessica Sepel
Jessica Sepel
Jessica Sepel is nutritionist and health expert who specializes in disordered eating. She is based...
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