The HPA-axis: Managing Stress and Adrenal Fatigue
THE HPA-AXIS: MANAGING STRESS AND ADRENAL FATIGUE
Did you know the HPA-axis (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal), also known as “fight-or-flight,” plays a dynamic role in bodily function? When appropriately activated, this stress response can aid in survival. When over-activated, it can lead to destructive imbalance. The HPA-axis regulates your body’s health from body temperature to satiety, fluid retention, metabolism, and beyond!
For starters, the HPA-axis is the body’s stress response. It regulates three glands: the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. These play a huge role in the regulation of body temperature, circadian rhythm, metabolism, thyroid function, hormonal health, fluid regulation, and steroid hormone expression, including cortisol. Cortisol is the main culprit of the adrenals that drive imbalance in inflammation, immune system, and drive belly fat or excessive fatigue when levels are off.
When there is an imbalance in the HPA-axis, there’s a greater chance of experiencing increased food sensitivities, digestive disturbances, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, anxiety, autoimmune disease, hormonal imbalance, and stubborn weight loss. When clients are searching for a solution with an ongoing health condition, they’re picking at layers of the symptom rather than understanding that managing this axis can resolve an array of chronic conditions.
To support adrenal recovery for an overworked HPA-axis, I recommend incorporating these foods and vitamins into your diet:
Lemons are a great source of bioflavonoids, which support lymphatic tissue flow. Lemons also rid the body of toxins and promote healthy liver function with bile flow and thyroid function all while reducing inflammation to the gland. When lymphatic flow slows the glands, your body gets overburdened with toxins, which hinders the body’s metabolism and drives body fat storage paired with hormonal imbalance.
Vitamin C is a must for healthy adrenal function. When adrenals pump out cortisol, there’s a stronger demand for vitamin C and when vitamin C isn’t available, the adrenals respond with excessive cortisol output until the gland becomes dysfunctional or can no longer produce ample amounts. When the cortisol drops, the body responds with more inflammation. This can be seen with more histamine reactivity in the form of seasonal allergies and food sensitivities. Beyond cortisol, vitamin C is needed to produce all of the adrenal gland’s steroid hormones and acts as an antioxidant, thus protecting the adrenal cortex. Supporting healthy vitamin C levels in the body also ensures a healthy immune system, which can take quite a tax under chronic stress, leading to colds, viruses, and autoimmune disease.
Turmeric root is an antioxidant superfood with multiple benefits, including the ability to fight against tumor activity, reduce inflammation, and reduce toxicity and oxidative stress. On the adrenal gland, turmeric can reduce histamine response which creates less tax on cortisol production and can aid in healthy hormonal expression. Cognitively, turmeric has been shown to provide a calming effect on the brain and neurohormones, aiding in stress response, improving memory, and promoting optimal thought process.
Hydration and Electrolytes
To keep your adrenals in check, reduce the stress on the output of aldosterone. Aldosterone is the hormone made by the gland to regulate blood pressure. Cool and refreshing, coconut water provides a natural rehydration solution that balances out electrolytes. Adding mineral salt works to further alkalize the body and increase mineral absorption.
Healthy fats are essential to aid in the absorption of the curcuminoids, plant compounds of turmeric, and bioflavonoids of lemons while providing satiety and adrenal gland support. Many people with a HPA-axis imbalance deal with hypothalamic dysfunction in their metabolism and satiety experience dysregulation of appetite and fullness. Eating healthy fats aids to rehabilitate this relationship and promote healthy metabolic response all while supporting the recovery of your body’s stress glands.
Suffering from adrenal fatigue? Give this recipe for our Naturally Nourished Adrenal Rehab a try.
Naturally Nourished Adrenal Rehab
2 lemons, peeled but maintaining the white pith
2 cups coconut water
⅓ cup full fat coconut milk
⅔ cup filtered water
4 grams vitamin C (1.5 scoops buffered vitamin C from Thorne)
1 teaspoon organic turmeric powder
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon Naturally Nourished Grassfed Whey Protein
½ tablespoon Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon raw unfiltered honey
Quarter lemons and remove seeds. Blend lemons with coconut water, coconut milk, and water until mixed well. Once combined, add remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth and creamy. In a mason jar, pour mixture over ice and shake to cool and create a nice frothy head.
This electrolyte balancing formula boosts the adrenal glands, aiding in favorable cortisol response and regulating aldosterone, which plays a role in hydration and blood pressure stability. The lemon combined with the buffered vitamin C provides a fuel boost to the adrenal glands. The bioflavonoids in the lemon promote the lymphatic tissue to cleanse, further supporting the liver and thyroid to support detox and metabolism.