For the majority of the existence of the human race, stressors have been short in duration, intense, and straightforward. From an evolutionary standpoint, our bodies are equipped to handle stressors like running from a predator, falling from a tree, or cutting ourselves on a rock. In our modern society, however, stress is long-term, pervasive, and often difficult to pinpoint. It manifests itself both psychologically by giving us feelings of worry, fear, foreboding, and anxiety, and physiologically, by negatively impacting our health.
Sources of stress that we are aware of affect us on a day-to-day basis and are usually easy to identify. Being on time and productive in a hectic workplace, dealing with family problems and drama, and fighting with our partners all elicit a stress response. However, what about stressors that we are unaware of? These have just as powerful an effect on us, but are dangerously silent and often go unnoticed.
Top 10 Common Triggers of Adrenal Stress:
#1 Processed & Inflammatory Foods: Consumption of refined flours and sugars, (especially gluten grains and fructose), trans-fats, and dairy
#2 Poorly Regulated Blood Sugar: Sudden spikes and drops in blood sugar occur continuously throughout the day when the diet consists mainly of processed food
#3 Disrupted Circadian Rhythm: Light and dark cycles no longer correspond to wake and sleep cycles due to modern conveniences like electricity. Furthermore, exposure to electronics like tablets, cell phones, computers, and television disrupts melatonin production & negatively affects sleep-all of which can disrupt and even reverse our normal circadian rhythm
#4 Environmental Toxins & Pollutants: We are surrounded by toxic chemicals like heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, and plastics. Our bodies have a hard time excreting these substances, often building up in fat tissue and decreasing the efficiency of the liver
#5 Exposure to Chronic Infections: Chronic viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections all mean one thing: an overactive and stressed immune system
#6 Lack of Exercise: Exercise is a way to decrease stress and encourage the body to produce normal amounts of cortisol. Without it, the body is instead sent signals to store fat
#7 Nutritional Deficiencies: Lack of necessary vitamins & minerals can cause slowing or even stoppage of certain metabolic processes, decreasing overall energy & stressing the system
#8 Poor Liver Function: Inefficient clearance of cellular waste, hormones, and environmental toxins by the liver cause disruption of other body systems
#9 Anxiety & Depression: Although a stressor we are well aware of psychologically, anxiety & depression also have physiological effects that can contribute to adrenal dysfunction.
#10 Chronic Disease States: Cancer, autoimmunity, diseases of the GI tract, and female hormone problems cause significant adrenal stress, and can cause a vicious cycle whereby cortisol, which is a potent anti-inflammatory, is overused to the point of complete exhaustion.