Adrenal Dysfunction or Fatigue. How Your Adrenal Glands Impact Your Health. As a well-educated woman in your 40s or 50s, you probably already know how important it is to take care of your five most vital organs—your heart, brain, lungs, liver, and kidney—as disease in any one of these can change, or even end, your life. But there is another gland that is extremely important to numerous aspects of your health that isn’t on this list. It is your adrenal glands and, although less known, they are just as important as the others.
As a well-educated woman in her 40s or 50s, you probably already know how important it is to take care of your five most vital organs—your heart, brain, lungs, liver, and kidney—as disease in any one of these can change, or even end, your life. But there is another gland that is extremely important to numerous aspects of your health that isn’t on this list. It is your adrenal glands and, although less known, they are just as important as the others.
The Function of Your Adrenal Glands
Based on the top of your kidneys, your adrenal glands are responsible for a number of functions. Here are seven of the most prominent ones:
- Higher Metabolism. Your adrenal glands play a very active role in setting your metabolism, which is the rate your body burns energy, or calories. This becomes increasingly important for women as they age, which is when metabolism naturally lowers, making weight loss harder than ever before.
- Enhanced Brain Function. Adrenal glands also impact the function of your brain. They affect your ability to remember things from days past, as well as your ability to learn new things today and tomorrow.
- Better Sleep Quality. Do you have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting restful sleep? If you answered yes, then it is possible that your adrenal glands are to blame as they help ensure that your nights in bed are rejuvenating and refreshing.
- Improved Mood. If you spend your days feeling tired, irritable, or experiencing unexplained mood swings, your adrenal glands may be contributing to these emotions due to inefficient production of cortisol and adrenaline, two hormones that help balance your emotions.
- Balanced Hormones. Speaking of balance, your adrenal glands are also responsible for balancing hormones within your thyroid, pancreas, and ovaries, just to name a few. When any one of these is off-balance, you won’t feel your best, which also means that your productivity levels will go down and you’ll find it harder to get through your day.
- Increased Absorption of Nutrients. When your adrenal glands are functioning properly, your body will absorb more of the nutrients that you ingest. This means that you will have fewer deficiencies because your body will be able to process the vitamins and minerals you consume via the foods you eat and the supplements you take.
- Detoxifying Your Body. Your adrenal glands also participate in detoxifying your body, which means that they take an active role in removing any of the substances that can do you harm.
Adrenal Gland Burnout
When your adrenal glands aren’t functioning as they should, adrenal burnout, also called adrenal fatigue, can be the result. This can occur when you are under high amounts of stress over long periods of time, which forces your adrenal glands to always be in overdrive, constantly releasing cortisol and adrenaline. How do you know if this is happening to you?
Common symptoms of adrenal burnout include having difficulties getting out of bed in the morning, feeling tired even after you’ve slept, and trouble concentrating. The problem is that these are also symptoms of other conditions, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), anemia, arthritis, and just having poor behavioral habits.
Therefore, one way to determine whether you have adrenal burnout is to test your cortisol levels. In the meantime, there are things you can do right now in order to support good adrenal health.
Supporting Good Adrenal Health
Part of keeping your adrenal glands as healthy as possible is keeping your stress levels to a minimum. This means tending to your emotional needs so that you feel loved, cared for, and understood by those around you. It also means loving, caring for, and understanding yourself so that you are more inclined to give yourself what you need when you need it.
This begins by making yourself a priority, even if it feels unnatural to you. Sure, there are times you have to put others needs before your own, such as when a work deadline is approaching, your child needs your help, or you have a parent with failing health, but you cannot lose yourself in order to help them. There has to be a balance.
Another thing you can do to improve your adrenal function, thereby decreasing your fatigue, is to engage in basic healthy behaviors. This includes eating foods that are high in nutrients (such as fruits, veggies, low-fat proteins, and complex carbs), getting enough sleep at night, and increasing your physical activity levels.
Your adrenal glands may not be one of the five most vital organs, but they are definitely still important. Keep them healthy and they’ll do the same for you.