When you hear the words “weight loss,” adrenal glands probably don’t come to mind. You might not even know what they do! These glands are a part of the endocrine system and are rarely talked about. But, when it comes to shedding pounds, they might just be what saves the day.
What Are Adrenal Glands?
On each kidney, there’s an adrenal gland that secretes hormones. The inner portion, or the adrenal medulla, makes adrenaline and noradrenaline. Meanwhile, the outer portion is called the adrenal cortex. This part releases aldosterone and cortisol. Sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone are also produced by the adrenal glands.1
Why Are Adrenal Glands Important?
It’s all about the hormones. Cortisol, aldosterone, adrenaline, and noradrenaline are in charge of numerous body functions. Examples include blood sugar levels, salt and water balance, pregnancy support, and weight gain.2 Specifically, the “stress hormone,” cortisol, is linked to weight.
How Adrenal Glands Affect Weight Gain
When you’re stressed, something called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis gland is constantly triggered. This makes the adrenal glands secrete lots of cortisol, which then binds to fat cells. As a result, an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase is activated. And the enzyme’s job? To turn circulating triglycerides into free fatty acids, or FFA.3 The more FFA you have, the less efficient insulin gets at its job of breaking down fat. The end result is weight gain!4
Stress also sparks emotional eating, where you won’t be able to tell the difference between hunger and emotion or notice when you are full.5 Plus, as cortisol builds up, appetite increases.6 No wonder chronic stress is linked to a bigger waist circumference.7 By getting a hold on stress, you
How To Treat Your Adrenal Glands Well
Stress relief is the name of the game. While easier said than done, it’ll benefit both physical and mental health. Take some time to see what works for you.
1. Meditate Regularly
Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind and body. Focused meditation is particularly useful for weight loss as it reduces cortisol levels.8 An object, such as a candle, can be used for this technique.
Even a short 10-minute session will do the trick. Who knew feeling zen could help you lose weight?
2. Practice Yoga
Yoga is another way to decrease
If you’re new to yoga, take a beginner class or watch online videos at home. Don’t worry if you aren’t very flexible, though. The goal is to stretch in a way that’s comfortable for your body.
3. Try Aromatherapy
Never underestimate the power of lovely aromas. For instance, in a 2016 study, inhaling lavender essence lowered anxiety and cortisol in open-heart surgery patients.10 Another 2015 study found
4. Have Fun
Make time for laughter. Watch funny movies, go to comedy shows, and spend time with loved ones. Laughing not only reduces cortisol but also reduces anxiety and enhances motivation. The brain’s reward system also gets a boost.12
5. Avoid Cigarettes
While people smoke cigarettes to de-stress,
As you can see, stress affects more than just your brain. The adrenal glands control the way your body handles the weight. It’s an excellent reason to make stress management part of your weight-loss plan.
|↑1||Adrenal Glands. National Center for Biotechnology Information.|
|↑3, ↑5, ↑7||Daubenmier, Jennifer, Jean Kristeller, Frederick M. Hecht, Nicole Maninger, Margaret Kuwata, Kinnari Jhaveri, Robert H. Lustig, Margaret Kemeny, Lori Karan, and Elissa Epel. “Mindfulness intervention for stress eating to reduce cortisol and abdominal fat among overweight and obese women: an exploratory randomized controlled study.” Journal of obesity 2011 (2011).|
|↑4||Boden, Guenther. “Obesity and free fatty acids.” Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America
|↑6||Epel, Elissa, Rachel Lapidus, Bruce McEwen, and Kelly Brownell. “Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior.” Psychoneuroendocrinology 26, no. 1 (2001): 37-49.|
|↑8||Pascoe, Michaela C., David R. Thompson, Zoe M. Jenkins, and Chantal F. Ski. “Mindfulness mediates the physiological markers of stress: Systematic review and meta-analysis.” Journal of Psychiatric Research (2017).|
|↑9||Sullivan, Molly, Amanda Carberry, Elizabeth S. Evans, Eric E. Hall, and Svetlana Nepocatych. “The effects of power and stretch yoga on affect and salivary cortisol in women.” Journal of Health Psychology (2017): 1359105317694487.|
|↑10||Hosseini, SeyedAbedin, Alemeh Heydari, MohammadAli Vakili, Shahram Moghadam, and SadeghAli Tazyky. “Effect of lavender essence inhalation on the level of anxiety and blood cortisol in candidates for open-heart surgery.” Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research 21, no. 4 (2016): 397.|
|↑11||Watanabe, Eri, Kenny Kuchta, Mari Kimura, Hans Wilhelm Rauwald, Tsutomu Kamei, and Jiro Imanishi. “Effects of bergamot (Citrus bergamia (Risso) Wright & Arn.) essential oil aromatherapy on mood states, parasympathetic nervous system activity, and salivary cortisol levels in 41 healthy females.” Complementary Medicine Research 22, no. 1 (2015): 43-49.|
|↑12||Savage, Brandon M., Heidi L. Lujan, Raghavendar R. Thipparthi, and Stephen E. DiCarlo. “Humor, laughter, learning, and health! A brief review.” Advances in Physiology Education 41, no. 3 (2017): 341-347.|
|↑13||Cohen, Lee M., Mustafa al’Absi, and Frank L. Collins. “Salivary cortisol concentrations are associated with acute nicotine withdrawal.” Addictive behaviors 29, no. 8 (2004): 1673-1678.|