The hypothalamus produces vasopressin and corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH). The hypothalamus is also responsible for the body’s circadian rhythm, internal temperature and energy levels.
Vasopressin and CRH are peptides that stimulate the pituitary gland (known as the master gland of the body) to produce and release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). The pituitary gland is also responsible for producing and releasing other vital hormones such as; growth hormone, anti-diuretic hormone and luteinizing hormone.
ACTH in turn stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol which is the hormone that releases glucose into your bloodstream which is preparing your body for the high-energy ‘fight-or-flight’ response that it is expecting. Your adrenals also release adrenaline, which raises your heart rate and increases your blood pressure, all physiological responses in preparation for ‘fight or flight’. Other physiological effects of ‘fight or flight’ include; diverting blood from your gastro-intestinal tract and brain to your hands and feet, suppressing your immune system and increasing your blood’s clotting ability.
Normally, when enough hormones have been produced, a message is sent back to the hypothalamus and pituitary to stop producing more hormones.
The more stress the body is exposed to, the less effective the negative feedback loop becomes.The adrenal glands start to show signs of overuse such as the feeling of wired but tired. The glands themselves may be starting to thicken as a way of attempting to produce more hormones. The adrenal glands are still pumping out cortisol and adrenaline, but they’re struggling. Becoming more reliant on coffee to get you up and going or staying awake later in the day is a classic sign that your adrenal glands are starting to suffer.
After repeated, ongoing exposure to stress, the return negative feedback loop, doesn’t swtich off the hormone release from the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, yet the adrenal glands are really struggling to produce hormones and other hormones such as pregnenolone (precursor to sex hormones as well as cortisol), DHEA and testosterone are affected. Pregnenolone is stolen for the production of cortisol at the expense of producing sex hormones. The rest of the endocrine system start to try to compensate for the weakened adrenals, but this only leads to lower hormone and neurotransmitter levels elsewhere. Typical symptoms, at this stage, may include ongoing fatigue, a lack of motivation, lowered immune system (and therefore more risk of infections) and a lower sex drive. The adrenal glands may be starting to shrivel. This stage can go on for several months or even years.
If stress continues, unabated, you will enter the final stage of adrenal fatigue, known as adrenal burnout. The body simply runs out of ways to manufacture stress hormones, and cortisol levels finally begin to drop. Now, the levels of both the sex hormones and the stress hormones are low. Levels of neurotransmitters are often also low. You may suffer from extreme fatigue continuously as well as a total lack of sex drive, irritability, depression, anxiety, weight loss, complete lack of motivation and apathy in hobbies and interests that previously brought joy. By this stage, the lack of hormones has major implications for almost every part of the body. Recovering from this stage needs considerable time, patience and often a total change in diet and lifestyle.
If you feel you’re suffering from any of these stages of adrenal fatigue, please come and see me, it’s much easier to resolve in the earlier stages than putting off until you’ve reached burnout.
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup arrowroot or tapioca flour
- 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 tbsp ghee, melted
- 1/2 tbsp parsley and crushed garlic (optional)
- Place the almond flour, arrowroot or tapioca flour, baking soda and pinch of salt in a bowl.
- Add the coconut milk, water and apple cider vinegar.
- Mix to combine.
- Heat a small frying pan over medium heat.
- Brush with 1/4 of the melted ghee.
- Pour in 1/4 cup of batter and swirl around slightly.
- Cook for 3 minutes per side or until golden and crisp.
- Repeat with the remaining mixture.
- Brush with remaining melted ghee, sprinkle with chopped parsley and garlic and serve.
- Splash of coconut oil, rice bran oil or butter
- 1 small brown onion, peeled and diced
- 1 tin of crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup semi-dried tomatoes (or a tablesoon of tomato paste)
- 400g can of Borlotti beans (or your favourite beans), drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp dried cumin (optional)
- 1 tsp dried oregano (optional, but really nice!)
- 1 tsp dried thyme (optional, but really nice!)
- ½ tsp dried cayenne pepper (optional)
- Sea salt & cracked black pepper
- Heat oil in a frypan over medium heat.
- Add onions and cook, stirring, until onions are translucent.
- Add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes to release their sweetness.
- Add beans, herbs and spices and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Taste and season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.
- Rice bran oil or butter for cooking
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 large or 3 button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups diced cooked vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, zucchini, etc) OR 2 cups of cooked frozen vegetables, drained
- 6 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup grated cheese (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Heat a dash of oil in an oven suitable frying pan (24cm diameter). Add the onion and mushrooms, and cook over a medium heat until it starts to soften.
- Add vegetables and toss to mix. Reduce heat and allow vegetables to warm through.
- Whisk together eggs and milk. Season well with salt and black pepper. Pour over the sausages and vegetables.
- Scatter over grated cheese if using.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until eggs are set and topping golden.
- 2 eggs
- 2 small-medium (120g each) over-ripe bananas
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons whole rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil, butter or ghee
- To serve – berries with a drizzle of maple syrup, raspberry chia jam, berry compote or chopped Medjool dates, walnuts and maple syrup
- Whisk the eggs in a medium sized bowl
- Add bananas and mash into the eggs
- Add cinnamon, vanilla, chia seeds and oats and stir to combine well
- Set aside for 5 minutes while you prepare the toppings etc
- Heat a medium frypan over medium heat
- Add the oil, butter or ghee and melt
- Cover the bottom of the pan with melted oil/butter
- Using a ¼ cup measure, scoop mix into the pan, allowing a little space between pancakes so you can turn them easily (I only cooked 3 at a time)
- Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip over and cook a further 2 minutes on the other side or until cooked through
- Transfer to a tray lined with kitchen towel and repeat with remaining mix
- To serve, top with yoghurt and jam, berry compote or chopped dates, walnuts and maple syrup
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net