People who suffer from adrenal fatigue usually have abnormal blood glucose levels in the form of hypoglycemia. And in the presence of hypoadrenia, there is a greater tendency to develop allergies, arthritic pain, and reduced immune response.
The adrenal glands also have an effect on our mental states. As a result, people with adrenal fatigue are more likely to experience feelings of fear, anxiety and depression, have moments of confusion, difficulty concentrating, and are less reactive. They often have less tolerance towards others and often find themselves in a state of frustration and impotence. When the adrenal glands do not sufficiently secrete amounts of hormones, insomnia is one of the most common results.
As their condition worsens, the foundation is laid for the development of (seemingly) disconnected conditions such as respiratory infections, rhinitis, asthma, frequent colds and a number of other problems such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, diabetes, autoimmune problems, and alcoholism.
These people may appear to friends and family as lazy, not very motivated and unambitious, when in fact it they’re forced to make titanic efforts compared to people with healthy adrenal glands to perform on normal daily activities.
Many people with mild hypoadrenia tend to spend “long” periods of time without eating proper meals. This behavior puts the adrenals to the test. In the presence of hypoglycemia, the adrenals are forced to secrete cortisol to normalize blood glucose levels , resulting in a vicious cycle.
Regulation of sugar levels in the blood
Indulging in carbohydrates, whether potatoes or chocolate, causes a rise in blood glucose. While the blood sugar returns to normal levels, the pancreas produces insulin. When this mechanism occurs frequently, the pancreas overcompensates by “shooting” too much insulin in the blood. At this point the blood sugar level falls and our adrenal hormones are forced to take action. The adrenal glands, which “consider” hypoglycemia as a mortal threat, send hormones to help.
The problem is that these hormones cause stress to the body. And every time this occurs – for many people this happens at every meal – practical functions such as digestion, immunity, hormonal balance, and thyroid activity are relegated to the background.
Dysglycemia is a condition in which the body loses its ability to maintain a stable blood sugar level. The effects of dysglycemia on adrenal function are among the main causes of many health problems including hypothyroidism. The digestive tract becomes weakened and inflamed from dysglycemia, the immune barrier of the intestine (a high level of cortisol decreases levels of sIgA and prevents the recovery of the intestinal wall), lungs and brain, the adrenal glands leads to exhaustion, creates the conditions for hormonal imbalances, blocks attempts to detoxify the body, fatigue, and impairs the metabolism of fatty acids .
When the pancreas produces too much insulin due to continuous blood sugar spikes, the levels of sugar in the blood fluctuate between highs and lows. And so, energy, mood, and mental processes decline in the subject. So the person slipping through these symptoms, with a poor short-term memory, short-tempered, and if they spend too long without eating they collapse, especially between the hours of 15 and 16. This is what typically happens to people with reactive hypoglycemia. It’s called reactive because the glycemic collapse occurs after 2-5 hours of a meal. The reactive hypoglycemia represents an early stage of insulin resistance, and if left untreated it can lead to the development of diabetes. People with reactive hypoglycemia usually skip meals, consume high-sugar foods, depend on caffeine to “work”, they want sugars and salt during the day, and have serious difficulties waking in the morning and going to bed at night.
Some people are just hypoglycemic, or have a fasting blood sugar getting low. With a diet low in nutrients, adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism are commonly seen.
Hypoglycemia is linked to all forms of hypothyroidism, but the most common is that caused by a lazy pituitary function. The continuous blood sugar spikes stress the adrenal glands, which in response slows the function of the pituitary gland, compromising the health of the thyroid.
Adrenal Stress and hypoglycemia
Adrenal stress normally develops as a result of chronic stress. Stress can be of a chemical, physical or emotional underlying, but is generally the result of all three factors. When the adrenals are exhausted, they lose their ability to produce cortisol. This leads to hypoglycemia seen when the body depends on cortisol to maintain stable blood glucose levels during the day. Cortisol also plays an anti-inflammatory/ anti-allergic role and has immune boosting properties. With exhausted adrenals, the body loses its ability to synthesize all the other hormones that become compromised with the problems that ensue.
Interaction between low cortisol levels, adrenal fatigue, and hypoglycemia
When the adrenals are fatigued for long periods, cortisol production through various stages decreases. In this situation, the liver has more difficulty converting glycogen into glucose. Fats, proteins, and carbohydrates normally converted into glucose cannot be easily converted.
These energy reserves controlled by cortisol are critical to achieving stable blood glucose, especially during periods of stress when insulin levels are increased as a result of a greater demand for cellular energy. Insulin opens the cell membranes to glucose in order to drain more energy to the cells. Without adequate levels of cortisol to facilitate the conversion of glycogen, fat and protein are new supplies of glucose- this increased need is impossible to satisfy.
The problem therefore is not a shortage of glucose in the blood, but rather the fact that glucose cannot reach the cells. In fact, the blood glucose test may be absolutely normal while the symptoms of hypoglycemia continue to occur.
To compensate for this lack of energy, glands pump stress hormones that trigger the liver to release stored glucose into the blood. This situation repeated exhausts the adrenal glands, as well as the hypothalamus and pituitary gland.
People suffering from adrenal fatigue are in great embarrassment when under stress for more glucose, but their adrenal glands cannot produce enough cortisol to generate higher levels of glucose reserves. In the presence of increased insulin and cortisol decreased, blood glucose falls rapidly. When this happens, there is a demand for increased glucose and here occurs the “tragedy”.
Gluconeogenesis, low-carb diets, and cortisol
Cortisol stimulates the conversion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into energy through a process called gluconeogenesis, so that our body has plenty of energy even if the resources of glucose stored in the liver and muscles are exhausted.
Cortisol is a powerful anti-inflammatory. In small quantities it accelerates tissue repair, but in large quantities it depresses the immune system. A prolonged resistant reaction increases the risk of diseases since the continued presence of elevated levels of cortisol overstimulate the individual cells that begin to fail. If this condition persists with no remedy, you get to the stage of exhaustion.
Adrenal Exhaustion and gluconeogenesis
During this phase, lower levels of cortisol and aldosterone are secreted with consequent reduction of gluconeogenesis and hypoglycemia, while sodium and potassium retention is lost. This type of situation counts heavily on adequate amounts of blood sugar and the sodium-potassium ratio, thus the cells function less effectively. As a result, the body weakens. This means that during the stage of exhaustion, the body lacks the essentials to feel good to work best.
When hormones are out of stock, the blood sugar falls as low cortisol levels lead to lower levels of gluconeogenesis. This means that the body is less able to produce the necessary glucose from fat, protein, and carbohydrates stored, leaving us more dependent on food consumption.
The combination of low cortisol and high levels of insulin leads to a slower glucose production and an acceleration in the absorption of glucose into the cells. Hypoglycemia is the result of the fact that the cells do not get glucose and other nutrients they need.
When the energy is not available, all the mechanisms that require energy slow down considerably. This lack of energy combined with an electrolyte imbalance produces a cellular crisis. When energy and electrolytes return and cellular stress decreases, the damaged cell must be repaired or replaced. The reactivation of a regular cellular function involves a series of events that consume energy that use a greater amount of energy than is normally necessary.
Concerning the low-carb diet, ketogenic state, and problems of cortisol, the response of Nora Gedgaudas was:
The symptoms that you describe suggest that it is in the presence of depressed levels of cortisol. This could be due to some viral/ bacterial/ parasitic infection, some particular form of inflammation due to the presence of antigens in the diet, or environmental compounds, or some form of autoimmune process not diagnosed. Chronically depressed cortisol levels almost always produce a state of chronic hypoglycemia, although there is nothing like the “lack of starch.” The so-called “safe starches” can help improve the symptoms but certainly not solve the problem that lies at the base. Since every patient has different conditions, it’s impossible for me to determine the cause, but I can assure you about the fact that whatever the trigger is, it’s not a “lack of carbohydrates.” There is no established scientific literature that can demonstrate the need for carbohydrates in the human diet. Cortisol is in part responsible for the increase of blood glucose in case of need. People with depressed cortisol are not able to increase their blood sugar and then live in a constant state of hypoglycemia, even by consuming a low-carb diet. The problem, however, does not depend on a lack of carbohydrates. Indeed, in these cases, consuming carbohydrates is like putting a Band-Aid on the problem without finding a solution.
It is clear that in the presence of adrenal problems resulting in abnormal production of cortisol, some people find great difficulty in reducing the consumption of carbohydrates. At the same time, however, it seems equally clear that the consumption of carbohydrates masks the underlying problem without solving it. The causes of busted cortisol levels can have multiple roots: excessive stress, unbalanced diet (with excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates ), leaky gut, autoimmune problems, viral infections, food allergies and intolerances, inflammation, overtraining, heavy metal poisoning (i.e. mercury) and more.
Maybe there’s a bigger problem that does not depend on their will, and that there is an inability of medical diagnostics. And until it is resolved, it will be impossible to reduce the carbohydrates.