The Stress response
A person’s response to stress is a normal physiological occurrence. It is the body’s way of going on alert and preparing all the organs and body parts for a fight (stand up and slay a beast) or flight (run for your life).
Even when we are exposed to little everyday stresses, such as changing lanes in our car, taking money out of the bank, or dropping our kids at school, the stress response is activated. The degree to which you feel stressed in situations depends on many things – previous experiences, nutritional state, influence of drugs and alcohol, time pressures, expectations and how much sleep you have had.
Stress activates your adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline and noradrenaline which then orchestrate another series of reactions, including a rise in insulin. The adrenals also secrete the hormone cortisol when you are stressed or anxious.
The typical sympathetic nervous system response results in a rise in many hormones. The effects of noradrenalin, adrenaline and cortisol will be discussed here. Ongoing stimulation of the stress response leads to burn out.
Adrenal Fatigue and Hormones
Blood vessels constricting, so your blood pressure goes up. Long term this can result in hypertension (high blood pressure).
Your heart rate increases and becomes stronger (and may even feel like it is pounding in your chest).
Your eyes dilate so they can take in more information.
Your liver releases glycogen (stored sugar for energy) and insulin so that it can be carried into the cells. Long term, high insulin levels results in fat gain and an inability to lose fat.
Your non-essential bodily functions slow down – such as digestion and metabolism. Long term this means you can suffer constipation and fat gain.
Adrenal Fatigue and Cortisol
Cortisol triggers the body’s inflammatory response. Naturally high levels of cortisol (either due to stress, virus or another cause) lead to inflammation. Inflammation causes diseases. Do you know that five years prior to people being diagnosed with an inflammatory disorder (for example, Hashimoto’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue), the person has invariable had a massive life-changing stress. The overwhelming stress may be a divorce, a death, an illness, a move etc…which leads to extreme cortisol levels, which five years later can take a toll on a person’s health.
Cortisol promotes cholesterol production in the liver. Long term this means you can end up with high cholesterol (and possible atherosclerosis and a fatty liver).
Cortisol releases other inflammatory cells. Long term high inflammation leads to many diseases including cancer.
Cortisol is released in a standard 24 hour pattern with its peak being at 10am. This is when you should feel most alert and have the most energy. As the day progresses, cortisol levels drop off and the opposite hormone, melatonin kicks in.
Melatonin tells your body it is time to sleep. Long term stress breaks the cortisol-melatonin harmony and results in disrupted sleep.
Which make is even harder to achieve rest and health!
Adrenal Fatigue Tips