Adrenal hormones are the body’s way of giving instant energy- part of the ‘fight or flight’ system to enable our hunter ancestors to switch into top gear to catch dinner or avoid being caught.
However, modern living constantly triggers a stress reaction. Adrenal hormones – adrenalin and cortisol – are produced either by a stressful thought, consumption of caffeine or a blood sugar dip. One in five take time off work because of stress.
Unlike our ancestors who usually had a wife or husband and a job for life, 42% of modern marriages end in divorce, another source of stress, and the average person changes, or loses their job every four years. Sugar consumption has gone up from nearly zero to over 50kg a year in many industrialised nations, while caffeine consumption among adults has increased to an average of about 300mg a day, which is an average of six cups of tea or three cups of coffee, a double expresso counting as two. Many consume double this. Simply being stuck in a traffic jam produces enough adrenalin to run for a mile.
Blood sugar dips after eating sweet foods or skipping meals also produces an adrenalin surge. Also, in the menopause progesterone levels fall which also trigger adrenal hormone release, adding to the stress effect.
As a consequence an increasing number of adults are suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, insomnia, but also often with physical symptoms such as muscle aches, cramps, restless legs, hot flushes, high blood pressure, having cold hands - all of which are classic symptoms of adrenalin dominance. In the long-term all this stress is having disastrous health consequences. In fact, chronic stress is as bad for you as smoking.
It’s a vicious cycle because over-production of adrenal hormones leads to adrenalin resistance whereby a person craves more stress to get the same lift. That’s why so many people become addicted to constant stimulation, be it from sweet foods, caffeine or constant mental activity. As a consequence we end up adrenalin dominant, literally addicted to stress and feeling wired and tired most of the time, almost hardwired to react stressfully. Test your stress on these questions. If you answer yes to five or more questions, that’s a fair indication you’re highly stressed, and ......
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