Adrenal Gland and Blood Sugar Issues are Treatable
by Janine Romaner, ND
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he body has crucial feedback loops between certain hormonal glands that must be considered together for lasting and stable health because of the impact each has on the other. One such loop exists between the adrenals and pancreas, showing up in a variety of dysfunctional patterns that are common today, including low energy and memory loss. One of the classic signs of adrenal fatigue is hypo-glycemia (low blood sugar), because of the key roles the adrenal hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol play in blood sugar regulation. Certified Nutrition Specialist and natural medicine expert Dr. Josh Axe says, “Adrenal fatigue is estimated to affect around 80 percent of the people in the world!”
Long-term stress plays a significant part in exhausting the adrenals, as well. Because of the adrenals’ central role in sleep patterns, energy, hormones, menopause, anxiety and more, when we are stressed, most systems of the body are affected, even though it’s easy to miss seeing the connection. When stressed over time, the body also receives signals to raise blood sugar (glucose) levels. The pancreas responds by releasing more insulin to encourage the movement of this glucose from the bloodstream to the cells to be used as energy for our body’s use. Too much of this causes numerous health imbalances and is considered a pre-diabetic state. So the pancreas is central to much of our health and plays a vital role in balancing many other hormones. Having stable blood sugar and insulin is essential in order to have other hormones stabilize and remain stable over time.
Healing Tired Adrenals and Blood Sugar Issues
- Eat a high-quality protein breakfast
- Eat a small amount of protein every two to three hours
- Find a personal carbohydrate tolerance and stick to it
- Avoid all sugary fruit juices and carrot juice
- Avoid adrenal stimulants
- Eat a well-balanced diet consisting mostly of veggies, quality protein and fats
In a 24-hour period, healthy adrenals have a natural cycle called a circadian rhythm. These small, yet powerful glands that sit on top of the kidneys release more cortisol in the morning to provide energy for the day. The cortisol gradually tapers off by nighttime as we prepare for sleep, and it slowly rises again by morning. This process can be easily charted as part of a saliva panel called an adrenal stress index. This natural rhythm of output and rest is rarely seen because of the tremendous pressure most people are under with the demands of fast-paced living in a complex society. The panel can offer essential information for a corrective program, depending on the health or stage of adrenal exhaustion of the patient, plus blood sugar information and other adrenal-related hormonal secretion levels.
However, if the body is unable to raise glucose levels, we may experience irritability, nervousness, energy drops during the day around 10 a.m. and late afternoon, fatigue after eating (more common with hyperglycemia), sleep issues, sweet cravings and frequent low energy.
Chronic hypoglycemia can also impair normal adrenal function by repetitive overstimulation of cortisol production. Recurring exposure to high cortisol will weaken the ability of cells to absorb insulin, and this prevents the body’s process of turning glucose into useable energy, which is critical for daily function. Excessive cortisol not only adds stubborn fat to the midsection of the body, but it can cause too much insulin to circulate and not be used by the body; a condition called insulin resistance. If not corrected, this can lead to diabetes, a serious disease that is present in epidemic proportions in North America. Consuming fast foods is a great contributor to this condition. In addition, the brain requires a constant supply of blood glucose, along with oxygen and activation, as one of three critical components to function optimally. This is why brain fog often accompanies blood sugar drops.
Dr. Michael Lam, of the Adrenal Fatigue Center, says, “Hypoglycemia itself is a significant stress on the entire body, and especially on the adrenals. While this can be overcome with a sugar fix consisting of an instant load of sugary drinks such as juice or soda, this is only a quick-fix remedy. Usually the symptoms will disappear immediately, but then return after one or two hours. With each hypoglycemic episode, more cells are damaged. Thus, the body reaches a new low with each incidence of hypo-glycemia. If this happens at the same time as the demand for glucose increases, the stage is set for an adrenal crisis.”
However, the body is innately brilliant and does whatever it can to retain homeostasis (balance), so if we befriend our symptoms, see them as signposts and understand what they are saying, they can guide us toward what is needed for healing. Most blood sugar problems can be enormously improved, if not eradicated, through stress reduction, dietary changes, exercise, temporary use of natural products to support the exact adrenal and blood sugar imbalances and an intention to heal.
Dr. Janine Romaner is a naturopathic doctor practicing in Woodstock, GA, and sees patients with a wide variety of chronic and acute conditions. For more information, call 770-640-6690 or visit NaturallyHealthy.ws.