Adrenal fatigue and weight gain results from the inability of the adrenal glands to function above the normal level. This means the adrenals are functioning less causing a myriad of symptoms which may include weight gain. To better understand adrenal fatigue and weight gain, let us first take a look at the function of the adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands are two, small grape-sized glands located at the top of your kidneys. These pyramid shaped glands function to help our body battle stress, give the body enough energy, and also regulates other physiologic processes. So how do the adrenals do this? It is through the following actions: The adrenals release the hormone cortisol
When the body is subject to stress, whether that is physical, emotional, or biological (such as in the case of an infection), the adrenals are endowed with the responsibility of releasing cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that increases blood sugar levels, suppresses the immune system, and stimulating protein and fat metabolism. Stressful situations cause the cells in the body to overwork, the increase in the work load requires energy, and this is where cortisol takes a major role. With the presence of cortisol, the liver is stimulated to do gluconeogenesis, the process of glucose production. Glucose is essential to the body, as it is the provider of the energy needed by the cells. In this sense, glucose serves as a form of “biologic fuel” to each of the cells in the body. And the supply of this fuel is made possible by the adrenal glands.
Aside from gluconeogenesis, cortisol also stimulates protein and fat metabolism. This again provides the body with additional energy it needs to fight stress and carry on other physiologic function. From this function alone, we can see the relationship between adrenal fatigue and weight gain.The Adrenals Release DHEA
DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone is an essential hormone necessary to carry out reproductive functions in both males and females. DHEA is a precursor of hormones testosterone and estrogen, the two hormones responsible for the normal functioning of the male and female body, especially when it comes to their reproductive aspects.
Adrenal Fatigue and Weight Gain
With the function of the adrenal glands explained, we can better understand adrenal fatigue and its relation to weight gain.
Adrenal fatigue is said to be caused by chronic exposure to stress, rendering the adrenals “exhausted” and insufficient to produce the necessary hormones. Adrenal fatigue is not an accepted medical diagnosis, it is a condition often used in the area of alternative and complementary medicine. Experts in the same field consider adrenal fatigue a syndrome; yet again the medical field doesn’t consider it a distinct one.
Adrenal fatigue has a particular relation to weight gain in a sense that the insufficiency of the adrenals also cause an insufficient production of cortisol. Remember that cortisol sparks production of glucose for energy and the metabolism of proteins and fats for energy as well. With insufficient cortisol, the process of energy production is halted, the process of metabolism is slowed down and this causes weight gain. Since there is no cortisol to spark the production of glucose for energy, the liver also slows down, and rather than producing glucose, it transforms them into a storage form, sometimes in the form of fats. This further leads to weight gain.
Adrenal Fatigue and Other Conditions
Weight gain is not the only condition or symptom that results from insufficient adrenal glands. Immune and reproductive functions are also affected with the hypo activity of the adrenals. Because the adrenals release DHEA, a precursor of estrogen and testosterone, decrease in the functioning of the adrenals affects the release of these hormones. Low levels of DHEA cause low levels of estrogen and testosterone. Decreased level of estrogen halts the woman’s ability to release egg and also disrupts a woman’s menstrual cycle; a decreased level of testosterone also does the same for men, decreasing their capability to produce sperm. Without these, fertilization and conception becomes difficult.
The immune system is also affected by adrenal fatigue. With the adrenals working less than the usual, its capability to release cortisol becomes compromised. Cortisol regulates the immune system by controlling our body’s response to infection or inflammation. Cortisol relieves inflammation and prevents too much white blood cells from destroying our own cells and tissues.
It is important to note that the correlation with adrenal fatigue and weight gain is not always seen in people with this condition, since adrenal fatigue is a result of chronic stress, significant weight loss can also be seen in this condition.