In last week’s corner the Pancreas and Thyroid and the hormones they produce were discussed. This week are the Adrenal and Reproductive glands.
These little glands sit atop the kidneys and play important regulatory roles in several body functions. Stress response, immunity, and metabolism are functions that are regulated by the release of adrenaline and cortisol along with a few others.
Let’s break these down. Adrenaline and cortisol play an important role in the “fight or flight” response, as your nervous system kicks in to deal with the “threat”. The hormone adrenaline rushes into your system causing your heart rate to speed up and to prime your muscles and brain to be ready. This instant energy or power is due to an increase in blood sugar from adrenaline. This energy is converted into readily usable energy by the help of the hormone cortisol. You may have heard stories, where people in an instant have almost super human power. Almost like a mama bear and her cubs there have been documented stories where a mother has been able to lift almost an impossible amount of weight to save her pinned child.
You can see why these hormones are useful. But while they have their purpose, there is a limit. These hormones work together so if your adrenals are not working properly your body either stays in a heightened, flight or fight state with high cortisol levels, or the opposite. With constant stress, your cortisol levels remain high and can cause overeating, weight gain and anxiety. With an exhausted adrenal gland with little adrenaline being released, then cortisol is not increased, which leads to low blood sugar and in more serious cases Addison’s disease, which is life threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Some people are genetically predisposed by how their body responds to stress. Since you can’t change your biology or avoid life’s everyday stressors, there are things you can control:
- Adapt a diet low in sugar, caffeine, and junk food, and focus on foods or supplements with the vitamins and minerals of Vitamins B5, B6, B12, C and Magnesium.
- Switch from coping to management strategies. Plan your time, prioritize tasks, and be prepared for events that may be more stressful than others.
- Incorporate breathing exercises throughout your day. Breathing deeply and exhaling fully can help slow your heart rate.
- Have a support network to help with your mental and emotional well-being when life gets tough.
The Ovaries & Testes: Estrogen & Testosterone
Reproductive glands: Ovaries and Testes
The male and female hormones not only are for reproductive health but also your health in general. Estrogen is mainly produced in women from the ovaries and testosterone in men from the testes. But both sexes produce both hormones just to a lesser degree. If the dominant hormone in either of the sexes is not producing properly, there will be health consequence.
Low estrogen levels can interfere with sexual development/functions, increase the risk of obesity, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.
Low testosterone levels can cause mood disturbances, increased body fat, loss of muscle tone, poor sexual performance, osteoporosis, difficulty with concentration, memory loss and sleep difficulties.
There has been some research shown that some foods may promote or suppress these hormones. So the best guidelines to follow are for a healthy, balanced diet, regular exercise, and possibly a high-quality nutritional supplement regimen. This approach should provide you with the overall nutrition you need for good health—and support for healthy hormone activity. Keeping these messenger vehicles running smoothly is key to living your best life.