Stress and Your Tiny but Mighty Adrenals
stethoscope and kidney beside each other on white table
The adrenal glands are small organs that sit on top of each kidney. They produce over 50 hormones and play a vital role in metabolism, reproduction, blood pressure, and immune health. Most notably, the adrenals manage our stress response by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Together these hormones increase our heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar providing the energy we need to fight or flee.
Right now, stress levels are at an all-time high. This means your adrenal glands are working hard and could use a little extra help. Follow these dietary tips to support your adrenals, manage your stress, and keep your outlook bright.

Cut Back on Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline. Hence, the rush of energy. When the body is stressed, adrenaline levels are already soaring and that means more caffeine will likely keep you in a prolonged state of fight-or-flight response. What’s more, caffeine also interferes with the sleep cycle making it hard for your adrenals to recover.

If you need your morning boost, no problem. Just keep it to a max of one cup before noon.

Watch the Alcohol

Heavy drinking causes stress to the body and results in an increase in cortisol. This happens not only while drinking but also when experiencing withdrawal. Alcohol is also a depressant that lowers your mood and negatively affects sleep quality.

If you drink, drink in moderation. Enjoy a glass of wine with dinner but be mindful and don’t use excess alcohol to fight stress or boredom.

Reduce Sugar

Stress causes a rise in blood sugar, giving us the energy to fight or flee. Combine this with an increase in “sugary” comfort foods that we are all likely eating more of (no judgement here), the result is blood sugar overload! The highs and lows make energy levels vary and cravings difficult to manage. You guessed it, what follows is weight gain and mood swings.

As best as you can, ditch the processed foods and exercise to burn off the extra sugar.

More Magnesium

Magnesium is used by the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, but also to manage the rise in blood pressure and blood sugar that follow. Low levels have long been associated with higher stress and anxiety; and when a deficiency exists, the fight or flight response can be more easily triggered.

Add magnesium rich foods to your diet. Good sources include pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, almonds, leafy greens, black beans, and even dark chocolate.

Get your B’s

The B vitamins include 8 essential nutrients that support red blood cell and DNA formation, energy production, and brain health. These vitamins also neutralize free radicals which are created in response to stress. As a result, they are one of the first set of vitamins to be depleted when stress is prolonged. And since they are water soluble, we need them daily.

Load up on your B’s by consuming a wide range of leafy greens, seeds and legumes, poultry, fish, and eggs.

The above tips can help you better manage your stress by supporting your adrenal glands. But remember the basics: regular exercise, a good night’s sleep, and well-balanced meals loaded with veggies, proteins, and healthy fats are just as important! Here’s to your health.