In previous posts, I discussed how hormones help keep the brain functioning properly, as well as the danger of hormonal imbalance. If one part of your hormonal structure is off, it can create a downstream effect throughout the hormonal cascade that hampers brain function.
It’s important to remember the concept of bio-individuality, which means we’re all different. We may have the same organs and bones, but we don’t have the same hormonal structure. How we feel, eat and exercise will shape each individual’s hormonal structure.
A key factor in balancing our hormones is how we respond to the stress in our lives. Our adrenal glands, which lie on top of our kidneys, produce stress hormones – DHEA, cortisol and adrenaline. The production of these hormones is regulated by the brain.
The adrenal glands have the ability to put us into fight-or-flight, our built-in mechanism that controls our response to stress. For example, if you come across a bear in the woods, this mechanism helps you flee the situation. When you hear about a woman having miraculous strength when saving her child from a life threatening situation, that’s the power of adrenaline.
However, this mechanism is designed for fight-or-flight. It’s not a mechanism for producing daily energy. Yet in our hustle-and-bustle lifestyle, we’re faced with a significant amount of stress on a daily basis, from rush hour traffic and work demands to family issues and lack of sleep. To make matters worse, our smartphones and tablets keep us constantly connected to everything that’s going on in the world.
This puts the adrenal glands into overdrive so they’re constantly producing cortisol, which is a stress hormone. After months and years of unrelenting stress, we find ourselves in a state of adrenal fatigue, and the body is unable to deal with such high stress levels.
My patients sometimes have trouble getting out of bed in the morning or struggle with basic thinking and functioning on a daily basis. Adrenal fatigue also makes you fat, especially around the abdominal wall. Many of my patients tell me they can’t lose weight even though they’ve made the switch to a healthy diet.
It’s because their body is under attack. They’re in a constant state of fight-or-flight, and cortisol is laying down body fat in the belly and the rump. Adrenal fatigue increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and kills brain cells, especially in the part of your brain called the hippocampus, which is a major memory center. That’s why our memory starts to fail.
As we become more stressed, we don’t get enough sleep, so we drink a stressor called caffeine to get us through the day. We wake up and immediately stress ourselves out by drinking liquid stress, which is a stimulant, because we don’t have the built-in capacity to deal with the stress any longer.
An imbalance in stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands contributes to weight gain, lost sleep, low stress tolerance, low libido, poor memory and mental fog. It also causes us to crave sweets, which makes it more difficult to make the behavioral changes that enable us to transform our bodies.
If we want to feel better, function better and live longer, we have to start addressing Hormones 101 because hormones are absolutely essential to proper brain function. I highly recommend the book Tired of Being Tired: Rescue, Repair, Rejuvenate by Dr. Jesse Lynn Hanley and her Ten Simple Solution program.
Diagnosing an imbalance in stress hormones isn’t always easy. Regaining and maintaining hormonal balance can be even more difficult. It requires evaluation and an action plan developed by a qualified doctor who understands how to guide you through this process. If you suspect stress is affecting your quality of life, please schedule an appointment with me at Natural Healthcare Center.
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.