Definition of Adrenal Insufficiency
Adrenal insufficiency is defined as a reduced ability to mobilize the body's defenses against stress. The body is still able to adapt to stress, but with a limited response.
Definition of Adrenal Burnout
Adrenal burnout is defined as a total inability to mobilize the body's defenses against stress. The body is no longer able to adapt to stress.
The Three Seasons of Burnout
Let's face it. When the going gets tough, we can always retreat to our warm, safe beds. Sleep will temporarily relieve us of all pain and pressure. No wonder everyone is sleeping more these days, why it is almost as much fun as going on vacation! We can escape reality, when reality is not what we want to be!
We are masters of escape, yet we never go anywhere. We are an intellectual society, yet we sometimes feed ourselves without realizing that we are participating in the ancient and primitive art of eating. Ten thousand years ago, men and women ate with ecstasy around a ceremonial fire and savored their meal long afterwards. Today we eat because we feel weak, lightheaded, or we just crave something that we become obsessed with having, such as ice cream. Who doesn't crave something now and then, be it a drink, candy, lobster, coffee or a pickle. We are creatures of habit — creatures who are controlled by habit. Why do we partake in these habits such as smoking, or munching in front of the television set? This connection begins with burnout and often ends in obesity; with many distressing symptoms in between, which have been classified as hypoglycemia.
We live in a tired, tired world. Americans eat junk food, drink, and smoke, not because they have nothing better to do, but because these habits make them feel good temporarily. In a tired, stressed-out world, you will have people who desperately search for sources of stimulation. Remember the California Gold Rush? People went just for the excitement of it. We are evolving into a generation of burnouts. Think about it, how many people have you met who were so full of life and energy that they left you feeling as though you were struck by a bolt of lightening. Most of us barely have enough energy to generate the lighting of a match; let alone the generation of a lightning bolt. There are also those who can barely generate body heat. There are more people in this last category then you can imagine. They are the burnouts. Are you one of them?
Elvis Presley was an energetic person who came across to the public like a so-called lightning bolt. Elvis also went into burnout, probably about the time he came out of the service. He appeared to lack confidence and his uncertainty of many things caused him considerable inner turmoil. His nature was warm and friendly but the constant hounding by photographers and the press forced him to be defensive and cool. He was forced to go against his nature as a human being to give the public what they wanted. His manager drove him at a level that few, if anyone, could maintain without major consequences. A person can only handle so much at one time. The entire world couldn't help noticing the sadness in Elvis's eyes, despite his feed-your-heart smiles. Elvis became so burned-out that he became dependent on stimulants to keep him going at the level expected of him. He had to take pills to sleep, stay awake, unwind, wind-up, decrease or increase his appetite, go to the bathroom, and to stop headaches. He became totally supported by drugs. Elvis became agoraphobic (Abnormal fear of open spaces.) Agoraphobics fear leaving their homes and tend to be hermit-like; which more often then not, accompanies burnout. He retreated to his bedroom and would sleep for periods of up to a week at a time, but never could defeat his overwhelming fatigue. Burnout cannot be cured with rest. Because of his weight gain, we can assume he ate a great deal of food as well. Elvis fought to keep going with drugs, excessive amounts of food and long periods of self destructive retreat; because without such crutches, he would have been overwhelmed with fatigue, symptoms of withdrawal and hypoglycemia. The drugs and obesity served as adaptation mechanisms, which kept him functioning, but his life didn't consist of the kind of energy, optimism, and happiness that comes with vibrant health. Elvis is a perfect example of the tragic outcome that often occurs when one becomes victim to the burnout-hypoglycemia-obesity connection.
Marilyn Monroe also suffered from the burnout-hypoglycemia-obesity connection. The degree of burnout Marilyn suffered from was severe and lifelong. Her burnout began in childhood and mounted until the time of her death. She suffered from extreme bouts of depression, which always accompanies burnout. She too, became agoraphobic, often locking herself in her apartment and going without a bath for days at a time. Although she carried her weight better than most, she still became overweight. Marilyn insisted on having a case of Dom Perignon champagne served during filming or photo sessions, not to mention social occasions. She needed bubbles to make her feel happy. She also needed drugs to help her feel alive. Burnout victims need many stimulants of all kinds to feel alive. Marilyn may or may not have died of a drug overdose, but we do know that she was institutionalized for manic depression. Burnout, together with drug or alcohol abuse, often results in uncontrollable depression.
Obesity is only one side of the coin; the other is anorexia. Burnout, when brought on by copper toxicity, can also be responsible for the shutting down of the hunger appestat, which is located in the brain. Karen Carpenter, the famous singer, also suffered from burnout.
Howard Hughes is another perfect example of burnout. He suffered severe burnout and had to retreat from stress altogether. He weighed approximately 80 pounds when he died. He was found with needle marks up and down his arms. He was agoraphobic and afraid of germs. He needed drugs to help him stay alive. All hypoglycemics need stimulants to maintain any level of energy. Unrelenting stress literally killed him. How many more will be destroyed because of their inability to adequately cope with stress.
Because we live in a society that perpetuates unrelenting stress, most of us will face burnout or adrenal insufficiency eventually in our lifetime. This paper will probe two major problems that are intimately associated with burnout; hypoglycemia, and obesity. Alcoholism and anorexia will also be touched upon. We will explore and explain the real causes of America's most common and deadly trio of health problems.
Burnout: An Adaptation To Stress
Burnout represents an adaptation to stress. When a job or a marriage or life itself becomes too much to cope with, our body rebels against our brain by becoming mentally or physically ill. Illness serves as an adaptation to stress and serves as a signal that warns us to slow down. However, when life in general becomes too much to bear, and drains us of every last drop of energy, a temporary bout of flu will not offer us the leave of absence we need, so our entire system must shut down. By shutting down, our bodies refuse to function under existing conditions. When one goes into burnout, major changes in one's lifestyle must occur if one hopes to recover. If major changes in one's lifestyle do not occur and the burned out individuals are left open to the stresses that caused them to become exhausted in the first place, additional diseases will occur. The burned-out individual, without intervention, will face a fast downhill slide of health and possibly death.
Stages Preceding Burnout
Our society inflicts multitudinous stresses, both external and internal, upon its populace.
"A person's physical health as well as his emotional health is adversely affected by stress. Since we live in times that are extremely stressful, we must learn how to guard our bodies and our minds against the harmful effects of stress. To reduce an individual's vulnerability to stress, the physical and psychic defenses against letting down must be worked through and released..." 1
Different Stages Of Stress
Energy Must Be Mobilized From the Body's Reserves
As Hans Selye has pointed out, "...continued stress has a deleterious effect on the body. It matters little what the stress is; the body reacts to all with a general adaptation syndrome." This syndrome consists of three phases.
- Phase 1 is called the alarm reaction. The body reacts to an acute stress by an outpouring of adrenal medullary hormones, which mobilize the body's energy to meet it. When the stress is a physical insult to the body, the alarm reaction takes the form of an inflammatory process. If this reaction is successful in overcoming the injury and removing the stress, the body quiets down and returns to its natural homeostatic condition. Should the stress continue however, Phase 2 begins.
- Phase 2 is the stage of adaptation. In this phase, the body attempts to adapt to the stress. This involves the adrenalocortical steroid hormones, which are anti inflammatory in their action. However; the process of adaptation also takes energy, which must be mobilized from the body's reserves. Phase 2 is like a cold war, in that the body tries to contain the stressful agent, since it cannot eliminate it. Phase 2 can go on for a long time, but eventually the body weakens.
- Phase 3 is called the stage of exhaustion. The body no longer has the energy to contain the stress and begins to break down." 2
This is translated as fatigue or chronic tiredness, which is probably the most universal complaint in our culture. I interpret it as a sign that many people are on the verge of exhaustion as a result of the continuous stresses to which they are subjected by their chronic muscular tensions." 3
Stress is Countered by Mobilizing Energy
"Stress results from the imposition of a force or pressure on an organism which it counters by mobilizing its energy..." 4
Ability to Mobilize Stress is Not Unlimited
This ability to mobilize energy is not unlimited; it is limited. Our endocrine glands become overworked and eventually fail in their attempt to keep up our energy levels. We then turn to over-eating in a subconscious attempt to keep our energy levels up, to counteract the stresses being imposed upon us. Obesity then results and we try to exercise off the excess weight, which results in an ever diminished reserve of energy.
Burdens are Countered With Energy
"...Burdens weigh on us,...We counter these pressures with our energy..." 5
Loss of Energy and Collapse
"...When we become tired or lack energy, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to stand up. Soldiers who are forced to stand immobile for long periods have collapsed when their energy became exhausted. Collapse also occurs when a person receives a shock, either psychological or physical, that results in the withdrawal of energy from the periphery of the body." 6
Fatigue Gives Birth to Negative and Damaging Emotions
We not only become exhausted physically: we also become exhausted psychologically. We find ourselves unable to stand up for our rights, we become apathetic, submissive, angry, hostile, resentful, frustrated, turned inward on ourselves; in short we are unable to love and be loved. We are fighting for our very survival. Without adequate energy levels, we finally enter into a stage of give-up.
So Little Satisfaction in Life as a Result of Fatigue
"Since chronic fatigue is probably the most common medical complaint today, it is little wonder that there is so little real satisfaction. Many persons are unaware of the low energetic state of their bodies. They move between states of elation and depression, unconscious of the relation of these psychic states to the underlying condition of chronic fatigue. The vital person has a well balanced and stable psychic equilibrium." 7
An individual is technically in burnout when their adrenal gland function becomes so impaired that they have lost their ability to cope with stress. Individuals in burnout, among other things, cannot assimilate their food, or nutrients properly, or draw adequately on glycogen (sugar) reserves in their liver. Therefore they suffer from constant cravings for high energy foods and/or alcohol and from the suffocation of perpetual fatigue.
Burnout Doesn't Happen Overnight
The body, when in a stage of resistance, discloses symptoms to alert us that our health is faltering. Symptoms are actually limits that should prevent us from overexertion or from engaging in a destructive lifestyle, which could result in chronic illness. Burnout occurs as a conglomeration of symptoms; but as a whole, total burnout represents itself as total exhaustion, in which the entire body goes into collapse. Burnout, as we have stated previously, is the result of chronic stress and reflects, and in many cases finalizes, one's inability to cope with stress. When one is burned-out they are unable to get out of bed unless they have something extremely important to do. Burnout victims find it very difficult to function in a world that requires discipline and systematic responsibilities. A burned out individual finds it absolutely impossible to orchestrate his life into anything meaningful or worthwhile.
Burnout is not a mere descriptive term that came off the top of someone's head, but a valid, scientifically recognized health problem, that accurately reflects the health status of an individual whose body chemistry has been severely imbalanced by life stresses.
The Birth of Burnout
Burnout has been with us since the beginning of history. Entire nations, such as Greece and Rome, went into burnout and have never fully recovered their former vitality. The modern concern with burnout represents a new awareness and way of handling an age old problem.
The Physiology of Stress
The Zinc/Copper Conflict:
Zinc is the first nutrient to be lost during stress. Even as we drive to work in rush hour traffic, our zinc reserves become temporarily diminished. Zinc reserves are not easy to replenish, once depleted. Once zinc depletion occurs, the door is opened wide for other antagonistic minerals to slip-in and steal the show, thus creating havoc with various vital homeostatic mechanisms. Once antagonistic minerals, such as copper, are allowed to accumulate, zinc reserves cannot be fully replenished until the antagonistic minerals are substantially lowered. Copper, when accumulated in toxic amounts, can be as harmful to one's health as the toxic metals lead or mercury. Copper, in excess, when combined with a stress-induced zinc deficiency, is notorious for diminishing vital tissue potassium reserves. Potassium requires zinc to be utilized and retained in the body, and when copper is present in excessive amounts, utilization and retention of zinc or potassium is correspondingly diminished.
Who Is Getting Burned Out?
Business executives were first noted to suffer from burnout, for which doctors routinely prescribed rest and relaxation. However, rest and relaxation have little beneficial effects on rejuvenating burned-out adrenal glands. Adrenal glands are not muscles that can be revived by not using them. They are glands that rely on a variety of nutritional factors to sustain or restore their health and function. Well-planned nutritional therapy must be followed by the burned-out individual, along with a total change in lifestyle, if one ever hopes to recover. We have long heard that stress kills and now we are seeing the staggering metamorphosis that slowly changes a stressful person into a burned-out person.
Hypoglycemia: An Early Warning Sign of Adrenal Insufficiency
The modern belief holds that hypoglycemia occurs when one eats too much sugar and the pancreas becomes over sensitized, producing too much insulin, which lowers the blood sugar drastically. This belief has held sway for years. The modern approach to correcting hypoglycemia is the advocation of a high protein diet to be eaten every two hours. In addition, one is advised to refrain from eating sugar and simple carbohydrates for the rest of one's life. How is it that an individual who has always consumed a high protein diet and rarely eats sugar and simple carbohydrates can also be severely afflicted with hypoglycemia?
Diminished Adrenal Activity Results in Diminished Sodium and Potassium Levels
The adrenal glands supply energy and vital assertiveness necessary for any achievement, large or small. Two minerals—which are regulated by the adrenal glands and which play vital roles in energy production—are sodium and potassium. As a result of burnout, the adrenal glands lose their ability to retain adequate amounts of sodium and potassium in the tissues.
The Man in the Jacuzzi Who Didn't Take Warning: A Case History
A young man who was very athletic, exposed himself constantly to stress during football practices. In time, he came to believe that the eating of meat (excessive fat) led to heart disease, and he had heard of football players dropping dead on the field from heart failure. This young man was very misinformed. Because of his physically stressful lifestyle, he should have made a priority of eating lean red meat on a regular basis. Instead, he eliminated all red meat from his diet and as a result became zinc deficient. Red meats are the richest food source of zinc. Consequently his copper level increased, which in turn caused his potassium level to drop precipitously. This young man also refrained from eating table salt (sodium) because he was influenced by the media regarding the dangers of sodium intake with regard to high blood pressure and heart disorders. Normal adrenal gland function is necessary to retain sodium in optimal amounts. Because many of us restrict our sodium intake and because of burnout, we have evolved into a race that has smaller adrenal glands than our more energetic and aggressive ancestors who helped build our civilization as we know it.
This young man sought out a hair analysis because he was troubled by unrelenting fatigue, which was adversely affecting his athletic performance. His hair analysis report indicated extremely low sodium and potassium levels. He was advised to avoid any physically or mentally exhausting activities that would cause him to lose additional sodium and potassium. He was warned to stay away from hot showers or a jacuzzi because excessive sweating would promote excessive potassium and sodium losses. Heart failure frequently occurs when sodium and potassium levels are extremely low or extremely high. He continued to participate in football practices and unwind in the hot jacuzzi, which unfortunately cost him his life. He died of heart failure in a hot water jacuzzi. Adrenal burnout or low sodium and potassium levels are not to be taken lightly.
Adrenal Insufficiency, Burnout and Mental Disorders
When one is in burnout, the resulting zinc loss in the brain results in the takeover of one's primitive brain (emotions) from one's rational (thinking) brain. A diminished ability to think rationally, combined with total burnout can also result in an emotional and/or mental breakdown. Dr. Jack Ward acknowledged that about half of the people he counsels for psychiatric problems suffer from abnormal blood sugar metabolism (hypoglycemia or diabetes), which is quite common in individuals suffering from
adrenal burnout. He has found that approximately 60 percent of his schizophrenic patients, 80 percent of his manic-depressive patients, and 70 percent of his neurotic patients suffer from hypoglycemic symptoms. Increasing zinc levels, lowering toxic copper levels, and replenishing sodium and potassium levels, by enhancing adrenal function, is highly successful in restoring rational thinking, confidence, energy, and overall well-being in these people.
Adrenal Insufficiency, Burnout and Hypoglycemia
Individuals in adrenal burnout lack effective back-up systems to regenerate their energy. As a result, they rely heavily on both simple and complex carbohydrates, sugary foods and beverages and all too frequently, alcohol, to generate temporary energy. Any source of glucose acts as a temporary support system for adrenal burnout victims. However, soon after eating, they again feel the fatigue, dizziness and numerous other symptoms associated with both adrenal burnout and hypoglycemia, so they are compelled to eat again. Often, individuals are misdiagnosed as suffering from primary hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is a catchall term for a wide variety of both physical and emotional symptoms. It is important to note that hypoglycemia doesn't exist as one major problem. Adrenal burnout is the major cause of many symptoms, which have been lumped under the term hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a syndrome resulting from an
adrenal insufficiency as explained below. Regardless of what one chooses to call it, an adrenal insufficiency is the major cause of many of the dysfunctions associated with hypoglycemia, including, obesity, alcoholism, and many other seemingly unrelated addictions.
Adrenal Glands vs the Pancreas
An over sensitive pancreas has long been blamed for over-secreting insulin, which results in hypoglycemia. The finger of blame is pointed in the wrong direction. An exhausted adrenal gland is the principal reason behind excessive insulin secretion, or what has been termed hyperinsulinism.
The adrenal glands and pancreas are physiologically antagonistic to one another. When the adrenal glands are underactive, (low sodium and potassium levels) the pancreas, in an effort to (compensate) maintain energy levels, over-secretes insulin. In other words, the pancreas serves as a back-up system for diminished adrenal activity, but not without serious consequences. An over secretion of insulin results in a bewildering array of symptoms that are commonly lumped under the term hypoglycemia. When the adrenal glands are overactive (high sodium and potassium levels), the pancreas cannot keep up with the demand for insulin. The end result is a syndrome known as diabetes. The solution to correcting both of these prevalent problems is to restore the adrenal glands to optimal functioning, thus normalizing the insulin output of the pancreas.
Fast Oxidation Hypoglycemia
The fast oxidizing hypoglycemic has overactive adrenal glands and an underactive pancreatic secretion. This type of hypoglycemic is very susceptible to eventually developing diabetes. The reason hypoglycemia develops in the fast oxidizer is because they are under acute stress to such a great extent, due to their volatile lifestyle, that they convert glycogen (stored sugar in the liver) too quickly into glucose. They always have a limited supply of glycogen readily available for emergencies; therefore they are often plagued with feelings of hunger. We refer to a deficiency of glycogen in the liver as acute hypoglycemia because when the fast oxidizer is faced with an emergency without adequate sugar reserves, he is faced with an acute emergency.
Slow Oxidation Hypoglycemia
The slow oxidizing hypoglycemic suffers from various degrees of adrenal burnout as indicated by their low tissue sodium and potassium levels. A slow oxidizer has adequate levels of glycogen stored in their liver, but they cannot adequately convert glycogen to glucose. Slow oxidizers cannot mobilize their glycogen from the liver principally because they have weak adrenal glands. As a result, they suffer from chronic hypoglycemia symptoms.
Approximately 85 percent of the population suffer from slow oxidation or relative degrees of adrenal insufficiency. Slow oxidizers tend to be somewhat overweight because they have to eat constantly to supply themselves with immediate glucose since they have difficulty mobilizing glycogen from the reservoirs in their liver. A slow oxidizer can only escape the life sentence of fatigue when their blood sugar (glucose) level is temporarily normal, which is only after they eat a high sugar and carbohydrate meal. The health and functioning of every cell in the body depends upon adequate supplies of blood sugar to a greater or lesser extent.
The brain and central nervous system depend on blood sugar for energy to function normally. Brain cells are continually drawing on the supply of glucose (sugar) in the fluid surrounding them. A continuous flow of blood must move past these cells, and the glucose (sugar) must be replaced as the cells burn it up. If the brain is deprived of sugar, it will program you for intense depression and cause you pain and suffering until you surrender to a candy bar.
The brain and central nervous system are extremely vulnerable to even a temporary deficit in the blood sugar supply. When the brain is deprived of energy, one's mental and emotional processes are detrimentally affected. One may feel weak and shaky, and miscalculations may occur causing one to bump into a wall or cause a traffic accident. Miscalculations most often occur when one is in a sodium/potassium inversion, or when one's sodium level is low relative to his potassium level.
Many individuals who have an adrenal insufficiency problem, together with a copper toxicity problem, suffer from white-outs. A white-out is much like an energy crisis. When an individual experiences a white-out, their vision will be wiped-out temporarily with what appears to be a sudden or gradual burst of blinding white light. A white-out is frequently misinterpreted as a religious experience. One's hearing will usually be temporarily affected, and they will either hear one sound that seems to be amplified or they will hear nothing but the rush of blood or the sound of their heart beat. They usually must sit or lay down immediately until the spell passes.
White-out spells usually occur when the brain is severely deprived of sugar. In such an emergency state, the adrenal glands are forced to kick in and secrete the hormone (adrenalin), which is necessary to convert liver glycogen to glucose. If glucose isn't available in adequate quantities, then the glycogen reserves in the muscles are converted to glucose (sugar) resulting in mild to severe muscle weakness. The sudden surge of adrenalin necessary to increase blood sugar can result in a cold sweat during a white out. The blood leaves the skin to participate in supplying the brain with glucose; therefore, the individual is left extremely pale. Blood supply is removed from all secondary functions to assist in the hypoglycemic emergency. Vision is considered a secondary function during such an emergency and the blood supply to the eyes is diminished, allowing for only the brightness of light to be interpreted. White outs will cease occurring when one's adrenal function is improved.
Burnout and Alcoholism
Highly energetic individuals seldom feel the need to drink alcoholic beverages. They already function at a high energy level and they can be confident and witty without the boost supplied by an alcoholic beverage. Individuals with adrenal insufficiency depend on a fast source of energy, whether it is from glucose-rich foods, or alcohol or drugs, in order to adequately function. Dr. Robert Meier found that 95 percent of the alcoholics he treated, suffered from hypoglycemic symptoms. Alcohol raises the blood sugar level faster than any source of sugar. There is an element of desperation when the alcoholic senses that his blood sugar is falling and many alcoholics become very violent when deprived of alcohol. You may have heard of alcoholics who lose their key to the liquor cabinet and break the doors down rather than wait for a locksmith. Low blood sugar has been blamed for being "the root of much of the antisocial and aggressive personal behavior in our own country." 8 Without alcohol, the adrenal burnout victim must face the feeling of being close to death; a feeling, which goes hand in hand with burnout. In the words of one alcoholic, "Forget who stole my little red wagon when I was three, I need help now!"
Withdrawal-the Severity of Glucose Deprivation
Adrenal burnouts who rely on sugar and simple carbohydrates for their primary source of energy also experience frightful symptoms of hypoglycemia or withdrawal when deprived of sugar. Withdrawal from sugar, alcohol, and even caffeine can be just as severe as withdrawal from heroin or any other recreational drug. The many symptoms associated with drug withdrawal are remarkably similar to those associated with a hypoglycemic reaction. When one is deprived of their artificial source of energy, and glucose is not being adequately supplied to the brain (withdrawal symptoms), then one feels as panicky as one who is trapped under water and cannot breathe. Glucose deprivation, if severe, can result in death, and the hypoglycemia individual goes into a panic when the deprivation becomes severe.
Adrenal Burnout and Anorexia
Adrenal burnout victims, or slow oxidizers, as we have mentioned earlier, are frequently deficient in zinc relative to copper. In other words they are relatively copper-toxic. There is an appestat mechanism in the brain that regulates appetite. This food appestat is principally regulated by a balance between the minerals zinc and copper. When one comes under severe stress, such as before a major event or in the case of many teenagers trying to survive the divorce of their parents, they lose zinc, which in turn, frequently results in a loss of appetite. Although one's appetite may be suppressed, they still require a source of glucose in order to function, and they may often choose alcohol, which is rich in acetates, rather than food to supply a source of energy and confidence. Anorectics frequently choose exercise over food or alcohol as a source of stimulation and energy.
Individuals who eat excessive amounts of food while under stress, do so because that is how they choose to fill their energy needs and they eat regardless of their lack of appetite.
Individuals at an Over-Eaters Anonymous meeting mentioned that they would spend up to half an hour standing in the candy aisle of supermarkets trying to decide what goodies their last binge would consist of. They would sometimes go to two or more supermarkets to avoid the embarrassment of buying too much junk food at one time. However, they always managed to bypass their embarrassment with the firm conviction that tomorrow they would start their diet. These individuals suffered from extreme cravings for sugar and if they did not allow themselves to eat sugary foods, they claimed to experience extreme fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and often they feared they might faint. All of these symptoms quickly vanished when sugar was eaten and the brain was supplied with glucose. These individuals all feared they would become more ill if they were deprived of sugar. They all unknowingly but accurately described typical hypoglycemia symptoms.
What is Your Sugar Limit?
We are going to use a simple candy bar to illustrate what occurs when one ingests an excessive amount of glucose. After eating a candy bar, a percentage of sugar contained in that candy bar passes directly into the blood serum and supplies quick energy. The body, however, is very conservative, and will take a percentage of the sugar contained in the candy bar and store it in the liver in the form of small units of glycogen. Muscle and fat cells will also hoard a percentage of glucose from the candy bar; however, glucose is very difficult to retrieve from fat cells once it is stored, principally due to adrenal burnout.
Retrieving Glucose Supplies From the Liver
The fight or flight hormone epinephrine or adrenalin, which is produced by the adrenal glands, is required to rapidly retrieve stored glucose from the liver cells.
Epinephrine is produced during stress, insuring that all body cells have adequate amounts of energy fuel. Adequate epinephrine cannot be produced nor can glucose be adequately retrieved from the liver cells in those individuals suffering from an adrenal insufficiency.
If there is an extraordinary need for blood glucose and liver glycogen reserves cannot be adequately mobilized, muscle glycogen can be broken down to a form called lactate, which will then enter the blood. However, muscle cells need their reserves of glucose for muscle action. In the event lactate is withdrawn from the muscles, severe muscle weakness may occur possibly resulting in a white out or a black out.
What do Obese People and a Camel's Hump Have in Common?
No, this is not a joke. The camel stores fat in his hump as an emergency source of energy. Obesity can be interpreted as an emergency storage of energy as well. Obese people who suffer from adrenal insufficiency (approximately 85 percent of the population) cannot fully utilize glucose that is stored. After a meal, a certain amount of glucose is stored in the liver. If it is not called upon, such as in the case of individuals suffering from an adrenal insufficiency, glucose is converted into fat and stored in fat cells or adipose tissue. In the slow oxidizer, there is a continual excessive conversion of glucose into fat, which slowly results in obesity. The body naturally stores excess glucose until it can be called upon, such as with the fat in the camel's hump. If the camel does not cross any deserts, he will not utilize his fat reserves. If adrenal burnout victims do not improve their adrenal gland function, they cannot mobilize their fat reserves either.
The Danger of Recommending High Protein Diets
If one has an adrenal insufficiency, they cannot manufacture sufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid necessary for adequate digestion of proteins. Yet, doctors and nutritionists are recommending that individuals who suffer from symptoms of hypoglycemia eat high protein diets. Protein and fats supply a longer lasting source of energy than either sugar or carbohydrates. However, when an individual with an adrenal insufficiency cannot produce adequate levels of hydrochloric acid, they will develop a distaste for meat protein, especially red meat protein. This dislike for meat is a biological necessity and often leads to vegetarianism, which all to often results in further weakening of the adrenal glands.
That Indispensable Craving for Sugar!
Individuals suffering from adrenal insufficiency cannot adequately digest proteins, cannot adequately metabolize fats, which leaves only one food item they can handle - carbohydrates. They usually eat so many carbohydrates that there is little room or appetite left for protein or fat consumption. The excessive intake of carbohydrates actually keeps the individual suffering from adrenal insufficiency functional until normal adrenal function can hopefully be reestablished. High carbohydrate diet, in predisposed individuals, although eventually leading to obesity, actually temporarily serves as an adaptation to a serious energy depletion problem.
Burnout, The Last Adaptation
It is important to realize that adrenal burnout represents an adaptation to a serious problem; a total inability to adequately cope with stress. Burnout effectively pulls one out of the mainstream of life, when stress can no longer be safely tolerated. In other words, burnout saves a person from exposure to further stress. Obesity, odd as it may seem, protects an individual suffering from the inability to convert glycogen to glucose by converting unused glucose energy to fat energy.
Fat provides 2½ times the amount of energy as carbohydrates. Burnout and obesity are symptoms and adaptations to stress and inadequate and improper nutrition. You cannot successfully treat burnout without alleviating much of the stress which caused burnout in the first place, nor can you successfully treat obesity without enhancing adrenal gland function. It is an adrenal insufficiency which is the major cause of obesity in the first place. Treating obesity as a symptom, all to often, results in failure because the body is attempting to adapt to an energy deficiency problem by producing fat, which provides 2½ times the amount of food energy as either carbohydrates or proteins. If one refrains from eating foods high in sugar while suffering from adrenal insufficiency, they are denying themselves of a source of back-up energy even though it is an excellent source of immediate energy, which keeps them functional.
By improving adrenal function, sugar metabolism will be improved, and one will lose their craving for sugar or other immediate sources of energy. Individuals with healthy adrenal function actually develop a distaste for sugar. Individuals with an adrenal insufficiency actually become anesthetized or accustomed to the negative effects of eating sugary foods. A child who has normal sugar metabolism and healthy adrenal glands as indicated by his output of energy, often becomes hyperactive after eating anything sweet. Decrease the amount of stress you are exposed to by increasing your adrenal function and you are well on your way to normal sugar metabolism and increased energy levels.
'Cold Turkey' From Sugar
Who hasn't tried to stop eating sugary foods, who was at one time, or still is, addicted to sugar? Individuals suffering from adrenal insufficiency cannot immediately deprive themselves of the only energy source they can adequately utilize. No sooner does one decide to stop eating foods high in glucose, be it from fruits, junk food or alcohol, they are back inhaling them again. We call these patterns yo-yo dieting. We are not promoting sugar, but we are suggesting that one continue to eat glucose-rich foods (complex carbohydrates) in reduced amounts until their adrenal glands improve and they no longer crave glucose as the mainstay of their diet.
Other Consequences of Adrenal Burnout
Diabetes - When the adrenal glands shutdown or close shop, a severe shutdown of the entire body results. When the adrenal glands are weak, the pancreas runs a mile a minute because the adrenal braking system has been lost. Obviously, the pancreas will become exhausted due to overuse, just like the adrenal glands, and when the islet cell of the pancreas go into exhaustion, diabetes occurs.
Organ Damage and Diminished Hormone Output
When one cannot adequately metabolize fats or proteins, due to exhausted adrenal glands, they cannot adequately synthesize sufficient protein necessary for organ health and optimal hormone production. Protein supplies within the body cannot be adequately replenished and a loss of muscle tone occurs. Zinc is necessary for good muscle tone, but the adrenal burnout victim is deficient in zinc for numerous reasons (copper toxicity, deficiency of glucocorticoid hormones). Muscle protein is broken down and converted to sugar since the weakened adrenal glands cannot adequately convert glycogen to glucose. When excessive protein breakdown occurs in order to supply glucose, protein tissue or muscle is replaced with fat. Burnout victims experience fat buildup in the areas where protein is actively being lost. Since protein is often lost from the liver, fatty degeneration of the liver often occurs. The protein structure of the heart can also be catabolized with resulting fatty degeneration, which makes it all the more important for an individual who is in burnout to start adequate nutritional therapy immediately.
Copyright © 1987 - The Eck Institute of Applied Nutrition and Bioenergetics, Ltd.
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- Alexander Lowen, M.D., Bioenergetics, pp 239.
- Alexander Lowen, M.D., Bioenergetics, pp 231.
- Alexander Lowen, M.D., Bioenergetics, pp 231.
- Alexander Lowen, M.D., Bioenergetics, pp 231.
- Alexander Lowen, M.D., Bioenergetics, pp 226.
- Alexander Lowen, M.D., Bioenergetics, pp 226.
- Alexander Lowen, M.D., Bioenergetics.
- Carl C. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., M.D., Mental and Other Micro-Nutrients