The endocrine system is composed of an array of glands that release vital chemicals or hormones into the bloodstream. This system basically consists of the adrenal gland, pituitary gland, pineal gland, reproductive glands, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, and the pancreas, all working in accompaniment with other body systems.
THE ADRENAL GLANDS
The adrenal glands work closely with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, as well as the thyroid. They are also responsible for the production of stress, steroid hormones and a smaller number of reproductive hormones, depending on gender (cortisol, DHEA, pregnenolone, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, aldosterone).
The primary stress hormones are adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. Adrenaline and norepinephrine work together as a hormone and neurotransmitter and are responsible for immediate reactions to stressful or dangerous situations. They heighten awareness and focus, and shift blood flow to the muscles in order to escape or engage a threat. Cortisol, a stress hormone most people are familiar with, is responsible for this fight or flight response as well. However, cortisol works on a long-term basis, minutes after a stressful situation, as opposed to seconds like adrenaline.
Unlike the other hormones, cortisol can be VERY difficult to regulate. After adrenaline levels normalize following the initial response to a stressful situation, cortisol is then released. The problem is that cortisol builds up in the blood slowly, so it takes awhile to get back to normal levels.
Constantly engaging in high intensity athletic activities produces high amounts of adrenaline, and subsequently cortisol, especially in the absence of carbohydrates, and inadequate amounts of rest required for recovery and repair. In the absence of glucose, cortisol will instigate the breakdown of valuable muscle tissue via gluconeogenesis, increasing fat stores. Strong emotions like anger and hate, as well as injury, sickness, environmental and internally produced toxins, acidity, weight gain, incessant multitasking, and ill perceived stress and worrying also raise cortisol levels.
When cortisol is continually released in excessive volume, resulting from various stressors, the body’s fluids and tissues throw off pH levels. The constant overproduction of cortisol from the adrenal glands, over time, can induce chronic acidosis. Increased acid levels deprive the body of much needed oxygen – which affects neurological function, immune function, and overall performance, recovery, and repair. At the same time, cellular absorption and its metabolic waste excretion are distressed, meaning less nutrients for the cells and a more toxic, acidic cellular environment.
Chronically elevated cortisol produces a cascade of likely health concerns as this vicious cycle continues. As acid levels in the body increase, further stress overwhelms the immune system, and more cortisol needs to be produced to control the inflammatory response. High cortisol levels over prolonged periods increase blood pressure, slow down digestion, inhibit thyroxin (thyroid hormone), decrease energy levels, decelerate performance gains in the gym as testosterone levels are reduced from increased levels of SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), escalate injury risk, and suppress the immune system – allowing just about any disease to materialize. Overuse and abuse eventually leads to dangerously low levels of this stress response management hormone, potentially resulting in adrenal burnout, producing systemic inflammation, and dangerously limiting your body’s ability to handle stressors in future situations.
In addition, consistently high cortisol levels effect the liver’s ability to methylate estrogen. High blood estrogen levels increase thyroid binding globulin, diminish thyroid hormone, promote weight gain, and interrupt all metabolic functioning. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s your choice to end the madness!
Another factor to consider is the negative effect that persistently elevated cortisol levels have on anti-aging sex hormones. For instance, the steroid hormone pregnenolone, produced primarily by the adrenal glands (but also in the brain, liver, skin, testicles and ovaries), is a precursor to the production of adrenal hormones, like cortisol. Therefore, over stimulating cortisol diminishes the availability of pregnenolone and thus its ability to produce anti-aging hormones – DHEA, progesterone, beneficial estrogens, and testosterone. These hormones are considered biomarkers for aging.
As these youth-retaining hormones gradually diminish, an undesirable scenario is actualized! If left unresolved, you can look forward to lower energy levels, decreased libido, the body’s failure to recover and repair effectively, increased protein catabolism, depression-like symptoms, immune suppression, and a diluted sense of well-being. This in turn can lead to muscle loss, bone loss, infertility, miscarriages, emotional distress, and ultimately deadly degenerative diseases.
Dr. Darryl Wolfe Ac.PhD.DNM, known as “the doc of detox” author and international speaker, made this statement:
Stress plus adrenal insufficiency causes a shift in the pH balance (acid/alkaline state) of the body, known as acidosis, and acidosis makes it difficult for the cells of the body to absorb any nutrients which are ingested, meaning less nutrition, further adrenal weakness, further acid conditions, and so forth! Acidosis also affects digestion with consequences for the stomach and the bowel.
When acidic inflammatory conditions remain unresolved, mitochondrial dysfunction increases, existing conditions worsen, the risk of infections expands, as well as increased risk for metabolic conditions like chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, digestive issues like IBS or colitis, and just about any form of cancer!
Poorly functioning adrenal glands can have detrimental effects on the human body. As mentioned, excessive acidity can have deleterious effects on ALL body systems. Numerous studies have demonstrated that low pH levels have a negative impact on the adrenals.
Researchers induced acidosis in the study’s participants, and found its affects were associated with increased aldosterone and cortisol production. The consequences of the overproduction of cortisol were mentioned previously, but the dysregulation of steroid hormone aldosterone can also be highly damaging. Being closely tied to pH balance, it can contribute to renal failure and cardiovascular disease. (1)
Another study measured the cortisol levels of 20 malnourished children and compared them to healthy ones. It was found that cortisol levels in the malnourished children did not differ from those of the normal group, unless there were additional stress factors. Those presenting stressors in the form of acidosis had significantly higher cortisol levels than other groups, noting the correlation between acidosis and increased cortisol. (2)
In a 1998 study, researchers found that chronic acidosis in humans significantly increases glucocorticoid activity, showing higher daily cortisol levels. Thus, balanced pH levels are necessary for the adrenals to perform adequately and produce normal hormone levels. (3)
1- Perez, G. O., Oster, J. R., Katz, F. H., & Vaamonde, C. A. (1979). The effect of acute metabolic acidosis on plasma cortisol, renin activity and aldosterone. Hormone Research in Paediatrics, 11(1), 12-21.
2- Paisey, R. B., Angers, M., & Frenk, S. (1973). Plasma cortisol levels in malnourished children with and without superimposed acute stress. Archives of disease in childhood, 48(9), 714-716.
3- Sicuro A, Mahlbacher K, Hulter HN, Krapf R. Effect of growth hormone on renal and systemic acid-base homeostasis in humans. Am J Physiol 1998 Renal Physiol 43:F650–7.
Stock photo ID:660819882 -Adrenal Glands