How Well Do You Know Your Body?

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How did we get to the point where we know more about our kitchen appliances and our computers than we do about the bodies in which we live, day in and day out?

Discomfort is the body’s way of telling us something is wrong, and if we ignore these subtle messages for too long, we will find ourselves paying a hefty price. Having simple knowledge about your body’s design can go a long way in helping to avoid serious health risks and preventing complications and disease.

I am a pharmacist and a Certified Clinical Nutritionist who works at an independent pharmacy with an integrated approach to health and a focus on wellness. As a pharmacist, I know that the best way to achieve long-lasting health is by making sure that the body maintains its natural balance. The human body is so complex and systems tend to compensate for one another. Restoring the intended efficient design of these systems is vital to our overall health.

With the holiday season coming up, it seems appropriate to discuss stress.

Two walnut-sized glands called the adrenal glands, which sit atop your kidneys, handle every physical, emotional and mental stress you encounter. Stress engages the adrenals and causes them to release cortisol and DHEA, hormones that induces the “fight or flight” response. This response is natural and designed to help muster up the energy required to function quickly and effectively. Unfortunately, this phase doesn’t last forever, and another phase follows – the “prolonged stress response.” Most people remain in this phase for years, and sometimes even decades when stressful circumstances continue. The body, in turn, is forced to over-produce cortisol at the expense of DHEA.

As DHEA levels fall, so do downstream hormones, testosterone and estrogen. These hormones play a major roll in fertility, mood, energy, rebuilding and repairing tissue, the ability to focus, libido, skin tone and appearance, and much more. When years pass with- out stress relief, adrenal exhaustion occurs. By this time, the adrenals are so weak and exhausted that both cortisol and DHEA levels are below normal physiological ranges. At this point, it’s hard to even get out of bed to perform normal daily functions.

If you have a stressful lifestyle, consider making some changes. Keep in mind that the adrenals are designed to deal with stress as a temporary situation that will pass. In other words, we should deal with stress immediately and then relax the system before we have to deal with more stress.

Remember that how well you live depends, to a large degree, on how well your adrenal glands function.

TIPS FOR HELPING YOUR ADRENALS RECOVER ON A DAILY BASIS, AND FOR KEEPING THEM STRONG AND HEALTHY:

• Do not push yourself to exhaustion; get adequate sleep. (This means seven to nine hours per night.)

• Keep a healthy diet and avoid junk food, sugar, soda and caffeine.

• Have a healthy snack between meals and make sure not to skip meals.

• Avoid foods that you might be sensitive or allergic to.

• Incorporate gentle exercise in to your day.

• Take deep breaths, meditate.

• If needed, supplement your diet with adrenal gland extracts, B vitamins and botanical herbs.

• Make and take time to enjoy life.

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