Nearly everyone in U.S. society is falling prey to what I call the high cortisol lifestyle. Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenals, those itty bitty triangular glands that sit atop the kidneys. Cortisol is responsible, along with other hormones, for a multitude of functions in the body, including blood sugar and blood pressure regulation, fighting inflammation, as well as mobilizing energy for the brain, and enabling the body to deal with stressors. When the body is under stress, whether it be emotional, nutritional, physiological or hormonal, the adrenals are called upon to secrete cortisol.
Stress is a normal part of life, but did you know that western society’s way of life, especially that of the United States, is conducive to adrenal exhaustion as a result of the demands put on the adrenal glands to produce cortisol?
First, we Americans thrive on stimulus. Without it, we are bored. Stimulus from the internet, stimulus from recreational activities, stimulus all day long because we need to occupy our minds 24-7. The adrenals don’t have the capacity to meet such demands, as such stimuli require more biochemicals than our poor bodies can produce.
Then, we rush, rush, rush to get to the next stimulating activity. We eat fast, drive fast, talk fast, and constantly check our watches to ensure that we aren’t going to be late for the next stressful, hurried event.
Who knows, maybe the adrenals would be able to cope if fed the proper diet and if given the proper rest in between all the stimuli?
But the rush-hurry-need-more-of-this-and-that lifestyle means that we won’t take the time to prepare a home-cooked meal with healthy, fresh ingredients, and especially not three times a day, and so we opt instead for the nutrient-less, imitation food in a box or poison fast food burgers, and so deprive our adrenals of the raw materials they need to produce the proper amount of hormones, especially cortisol.
And the stimulus lifestyle is addictive, so shutting off the race-race mentality after a long day at work is just not an option, and so we cram recreation and ten thousand best friends into our off-hours. And as for going to bed early and getting a good eight hours of rest? Nah, not an option!
Gosh, those adrenal glands are just so tiny….were they really meant to work THAT hard?
What can we do?
Would any of us ever consider cutting activities from our lives to give our adrenals a break?
Would we consider changing our diets, though it would sometimes mean not going out to lunch with co-workers?
Can we leave some of our daily activities on the “To Do” list for tomorrow?
Can we risk getting screamed at, or fired, from work, because we want to accomplish tasks at a healthier pace? Is our health worth it?
Can we afford to lose the Miss Popularity award because we just can’t fit all of our friends into our schedules?
Can we go to bed an hour earlier and forego the late night television?
Our bodies need stress in the proper amounts, or things will start to go wrong. I ignored the warning signs of adrenal burnout, and now have a serious illness to contend with. You may not be where I am (and I sure hope not!) but if you are suffering from symptoms of adrenal fatigue, it might be worth it to make some changes, before other health problems develop down the road. Your adrenals will reward you for it, too!