They may be small, but never underestimate the power of your adrenal glands. Also known as your adrenals, they play a very important part in your overall health. Adrenal health affects both men and women, but for women during peri-menopause and menopause adrenal health is even more important. You pride yourself on working well under pressure but your adrenal glands do not share the same enthusiasm for stress.
Your adrenal glands are located at the top of each of your kidneys. Measuring only about one inch high and about three inches long, the adrenals are very small but they pack a pretty mighty punch in your daily health. Each adrenal gland is made up of two parts and each of these parts has a pretty important job decryption.
The inner part, also called the medulla, produces and secretes adrenaline. Adrenaline is what helps determine your body’s blood pressure rate, your body’s heart rate, and the amount of sweat your body produces.
The outer part, also called the cortex, produces and secretes aldosterone and cortisol. Both of these hormones/steroids are primarily responsible for maintaining salt levels in the blood, which in turn affect your blood pressure levels.
Both parts of the adrenal gland combine to ensure your blood salt levels are healthy, your kidneys are functioning properly, and that your bodily fluid concentrations are properly balanced. The health of your body depends on healthy adrenal glands being able to do their job.
Adrenals and stress
When your adrenal glands help your body deal with stress by releasing the adrenaline mentioned earlier. You may know this as the ‘fight or flight’ response, which refers to when you are faced with a stressful event. It could be as simple as being stuck in traffic or worried about something at work, or as serious as being under a physical threat. Your body releases adrenaline to help you better cope with that traffic jam or threatening-looking person; you get the strength to deal with the stress or the ability to remove yourself from the danger.
Some stress is good
Works well under pressure. Sound familiar? You actually need some amounts of stress in life, such as dealing with deadlines or schedules to help you raise your family. Mild stressors prompt us to act and get our daily tasks done, so not all stress is bad. Stress becomes a bad thing when you have too much stress or too high a stress level for a long period of time. Your body releases more adrenaline to deal with more stress, putting your adrenal glands into overdrive.
When the adrenals work so hard that they are ‘on’ all the time, these glands cannot perform their normal functions properly. All of that stress wears out the adrenals, affecting your blood pressure levels, bodily fluid concentrations and kidney functions. Your body cannot keep trying to work under consistently high stress levels and is on the road to physical burn-out. If your adrenal glands become worn down, so too does your body. Your immune system does not work well under pressure.
Adrenals and menopause
Menopause is not entirely to blame for our adrenal health. But since peri-menopause and menopause occur right at some of the most busy and stressful years in a woman’s life, your adrenals can wreak havoc on your health just when you need all the coping you can get. This is why you need to look for ways to try and reduce stress levels in your life; at least the ones you can manage, and work towards better mental and physical health.
Eliminating stress does not just happen by snapping your fingers, chanting some mantra three times, or by way of any other quick fix. But there are ways to improve your health through diet and exercise that can help boost your body’s immune system. When the adrenals are no longer frazzled, the greater the chance that neither will you as you continue to develop during menopause.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You