Adrenal health is of importance particularly going through perimenopausal years as well as menopause and beyond. So what are our adrenals and what do they do?
Our adrenals are small glands that sit on top of our kidneys, and are responsible for making and releasing adrenalin and cortisol; hormones produced as part of our stress response, and our sleep/wake cycle.
Imagine you are crossing a road and suddenly seemingly out of nowhere a lorry is approaching at high speed. Immediately your adrenals create a stress response which causes your body to put all of its reserves into your limbs so that you can run fast to safety. Once safely across the road, your body is then flooded with a sense of relief and you will need to rest and recover from the experience. This would be a normal, healthy example of how our adrenals are supposed to work for us.
However, our busy and hectic modern day lives leave us stresed more than ever. Rushing from appointment to appointment, too many things on our to-do list, worries over children, finances, constant attention to our mobile phones, balancing and juggling parenting with careers, all impact our adrenals. As far as our adrenal glands are concerned, this is stress and they will be creating a stress response. A continued stress response, without the physical release or the recovery time.
Clues that your adrenals may need support include:
- Poor sleep;
- Changes in the way you’re able to cope with stress;
- Blood sugar spikes;
- Mood swings and low mood;
- Brain fog.
In addition to this, as we approach menopause (perimenopause can be as much as 10 years leading into menopause) our reproductive hormone levels begin to decline as the ovaries gradually stop producing oestrogen and progestrone. As this happens, our adrenals respond. They answer by making a hormone estradiol (a type of oestrogen) which plays a role in bone health, heart health and protection of the nervous system through and beyond menopause.
As we have already discussed, our adrenals create a stress response within the body in order to keep us safe and away from danger. The additional role they take on (on behalf of the ovaries) during menopause and beyond will not be prioritised over their main function. So it is hugely important to find ways of managing stress. I think we are all guilty of saying “oh, its just stress” or “I am just stressed”: stress has huge implications on our health, particularly continued stress that isn’t acknowledged or managed.
Ideas to help create balance in your life and to carve out some me-time include:
- Booking in for a regular reflexology session,
- Run yourself a candlelit bath with expertly blended aromatherapy products;
- Switch to herbal teas particularly in the afternoon and evenings (liquorice is a great choice);
- Turn your phone off for an hour;
- Go for a walk in nature near trees or open water;
- Add more plants to your living space;