What are your adrenal glands and what do they do for you?
Your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys like a little hat. Adrenal glands work with the brain to mediate stress, produce energy, maintain weight and metabolism, control blood pressure, and secrete testosterone among other things.
Why am I always tired and gaining weight especially around the middle?
It sounds like you are experiencing “adrenal fatigue”. This happens when you are under constant mental, physical, or emotional stress, eating a poor diet, lacking exercise, and end up burning the candle at both ends. Adrenal fatigue is a term used to describe sub-optimal functioning of your adrenal glands leading to symptoms such as constant fatigue and weight gain. When under stressful situations, your adrenal glands produce “fight or flight” stress hormones which stimulate an increase in blood sugar so that your body can either use the extra energy to run away or to stand and fight. In a modern day setting, if this extra sugar is not used up with exercise, it can easily be stored as fat, especially belly fat, leading to weight gain and fatigue.
What can you do to support your adrenal glands?
1) Cut down on caffeine intake. Moderate caffeine intake, about 2 cups or less in the morning, has been shown not to have negative effects. Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands which can cause the release of too many stress hormones. In addition, it lowers blood sugar by stimulating the pancreas to secrete insulin, which also results in a greater release of stress hormones.
2) B Vitamins. B vitamins are essential co-factors in your body’s many functions, but importantly to maintain an efficient Kreb cycle, the process your body uses to make energy. All B vitamins help the body to convert carbohydrates into glucose (sugar), which is “burned” to produce energy. Stress and poor diet depletes your body’s stores of B vitamins. You can restore optimal B vitamin levels through B vitamin injections and with B vitamin supplements.
3) Herbal support. Historically, certain herbs such as Rhodiola, Eleutherococcus, Ashwagandha, Panax Ginseng among many others, have been shown to nourish and tonify the adrenal glands, helping to restore and maintain proper adrenal function.
4) Contact your local naturopathic doctor to see what treatment options are right for you.
Dr. Sonja Fung is a primary care Naturopathic doctor at Live Well Clinic utilizing holistic treatments to restore optimal health. To schedule an appointment or for more information, visit www.livewellclinic.org or call us at 760-771-5970. Live Well Clinic is located at 78-900 Avenue 47, Ste 102 in La Quinta, CA.