This last week I was speaking with a patient whose tests showed that her adrenal glands are poorly supporting her, leading to fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia among other symptoms.
The adrenals are a major foundational hormonal system that is worn down by on-going stress.
They then affect all other hormonal systems by dragging them down too. Poor adrenal function particularly impairs the function of the immune system, creating inflammation and producing more anxiety and feelings of overwhelm. In her case, this system needs to be balanced first before she can successfully increase her thyroid to optimal function.
We talked about her diet needing to be low glycemic index (carbs that tend to not raise the blood sugar) so that what she eats does not prevent the rejuvenation of her adrenal glands.
She also needs to adopt new strategies to manage her reactions to stress, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise, and to consider counseling for some specific emotional issues in her life.
Sleep is another important factor, and getting a deep and restful 7-8 hours of sleep per night will be vital. And, we can’t forget supplements that are used therapeutically to rehabilitate the adrenals and support the balancing of her entire physiology.
Several vitamins, minerals, herbs and glandulars have been shown to be extremely effective, and are part of the protocol for adrenal fatigue that she will follow.
In order for any of us to create optimal health, there are several areas of life – body, mind and spirit – that need our attention. This patient is taking multiple steps to get there.
Sometimes patients want one pill to “do it all for me.” Yet, there clearly is more to creating optimal health and well-being than just taking a pill! That belief is largely a carry-over from the constant commercials of the pharmaceutical industry and media articles about high profile but narrow medical advances.
But in reality, we can’t expect to create health and well-being by simply “taking a pill.”
Good health requires us to give persistent attention to all aspects of our life – diet, exercise, stress management, sleep, our environment, relationships, etc….
They all affect our physical body, our mind, our emotions, and our spirit, all elements of our health as clearly demonstrated by multiple studies. To take one of those out of the whole and address it only, really does not bring us into balanced health and well-being. Intuition tells us that and research supports it.
The emerging field of epigenetics studies how the environment affects the expression of our genes.
Addressing our environment in a way to promote good health reduces the likelihood of expressing poor genes or have gene disruptions that can trigger higher health risks and disease development.
Studies on identical twins who were separated at birth, so that they lived in different environments growing up, repeatedly show different health and disease risks.
As we move into fall and then winter, I hope to share with you some of these elements of good health that create a full sense of well-being. For those of you who have already implemented some or many of these elements in your work with me, some fine-tuning may help you to further move into optimal health.
Creating good health takes attention, intention, and dedication, but the benefits are huge!
At mid-life we each have a choice for how we want to influence the next half of our lives. I hope you will join me in choosing what creates well-being and optimal health for the long term.
Jane Kennedy, CFNP, MN, MPH