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HPA-Axis Treatment: 8 Lifestyle Changes to Implement

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Once you’ve recognized the HPA-axis dysfunction in your own body, also known as adrenal fatigue) it’s time to allow for the necessary restoration and rejuvenation to heal. Here are 8 steps for HPA-axis treatment.

HPA-axis treatment

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It’s likely the term “HPA-axis” dysfunction (also known as adrenal fatigue) doesn’t sound all too familiar, but we’ve all certainly experienced the effects of this physiological process. In simple terms, the HPA-axis refers to the interactions between 3 essential organs: the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands. Together these 3 main players are responsible for producing and regulating stress hormones in the body.

Given the hustle-and-bustle society we live in, your body often lives in a constant state of stress. Chronic stress leads to the dysregulation of stress hormones, and furthermore, dysfunction in the HPA-axis. Even if this term is new to you, it’s never too late to support a healthy HPA-axis.

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN HPA-AXIS TREATMENT AND AUTOIMMUNITY 

In regards to autoimmunity and leaky gut, there is a direct and clear connection to the HPA-axis. At the root, autoimmune conditions and gut issues are always a consequence of stress (physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional). When chronic stress overwhelms the HPA-axis, you’re left with chronic disease, like autoimmunity or leaky gut. 

how stress affects the gut and hp-axis dysfunction

Although stress is often referred to as an internal circumstance, it’s important to note that stress can arise internally and externally.

External sources, include:

  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Plastic
  • Refined foods, sugar, and trans fats
  • Parabens
  • EMFs
  • Unfiltered water
  • Endocrine disruptors 

Frequent exposure to these toxic substances, as well as emotional stressors, will create chronic stress within the body, ultimately leading to negative impacts on the HPA-axis.

SYMPTOMS OF HPA-AXIS DYSFUNCTION

Suffering from autoimmunity or gut issues is a tell-tale sign of HPA-axis dysfunction, but there are other common symptoms to look out for, including:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Low blood sugar
  • Insulin resistance
  • Weight gain
  • Sugar or caffeine cravings

Although the term “HPA-axis” might sound complex to understand, these common symptoms prove it to be really quite simple. In fact, most of us are suffering from HPA-axis dysfunction right now. I don’t say this to bring fear, but to shed light on such an essential and chronic issue. 

So, how do you know if you’re struggling with a HPA-axis issue?

Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way to diagnose dysfunction within the HPA-axis. Instead, you have to consider physical and mental symptoms (like the ones listed above), as well as nutrient and hormone balance and overall stress levels.

8 STEPS FOR NATURAL HPA-AXIS TREATMENT 

Once you’ve recognized the HPA-axis dysfunction or adrenal fatigue in your own body, it’s time to allow for the necessary restoration and rejuvenation to heal.

Here’s where you can start:

  1. Prioritizing sleep
  2. Optimizing diet
  3. Stress management
  4. Shifting to balanced workouts
  5. Adding in adaptogens
  6. Avoiding toxins
  7. Supplementing with targeted nutrients
  8. Getting hydrated
SLEEP FOR HPA-AXIS TREATMENT

When it comes to tackling problems with the HPA-axis, prioritizing sleep is essential since it plays a central role in regulating stress levels. Getting sufficient restorative sleep is crucial for maintaining the balance of the HPA-axis. 

Tip 1: Aim for a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night to ensure an adequate amount of deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which helps regulate cognitive function, emotional regulation, and physical recovery. 

Tip 2: Establishing a consistent sleep schedule and aiming to be in bed by 10pm can optimize the quality and duration of your rest, allowing your body ample time for repair and rejuvenation. 

Tip 3: Additionally, creating a conducive sleep environment, free from distractions and avoiding electronic devices past 8pm, can further enhance sleep quality and promote relaxation. 

By prioritizing sleep hygiene and ensuring adequate rest, you can effectively support the health of your HPA-axis and mitigate the impact of chronic stress on your health.

DIET FOR HPA-AXIS TREATMENT

Just like with any health concern, diet plays a critical role in supporting the healing process of the HPA-axis. Focusing on your food intake is one of the best steps you can take to support your HPA-axis. Optimal nutrition is key to maintaining stable blood sugar levels and promoting hormonal balance. To nurture your HPA-axis back to health, prioritize food as medicine and supercharge healing! 

Tip 1: Consume balanced meals with protein, fat, and carbohydrates spaced evenly throughout the day, ideally every 3-4 hours. 

Tip 2: Incorporate whole food sources of carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, sprouted gluten free oats, parsnips, and seasonal fruits. This will provide sustained energy to fuel your body and support adrenal function. Carbs are your friend for HPA-Axis treatment and you want to make sure you have a moderate amount. 

Tip 3: Additionally, it’s important not to shy away from salt. Use high-quality sea salt or pink Himalayan salt to generously season your meals, as these salts are rich in essential minerals that are crucial for maintaining electrolyte balance and supporting adrenal health. 

By nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods and mindful salt intake, you can effectively support the healing process of your HPA-axis. For even more dietary guidance, check out this article that walks you through a complete anti-inflammatory diet for healing. 

STRESS MANAGEMENT FOR HPA-AXIS TREATMENT

Given how closely intertwined the HPA-axis is with stress, managing stress effectively becomes absolutely vital. Whether it’s mental, spiritual, physical, or emotional stress, learning to deal with it skillfully can truly work wonders for the health of your HPA-axis. Ignoring stress only adds to the strain on your HPA-axis, leading to further issues. 

It’s crucial to find ways to address stress head-on. Consider finding stress reducing techniques that speak to you for hpa-axis treatment. 

Tip 1: Incorporate activities like mindfulness, prayer, and intentional breathing exercises into your daily routine. I always recommend adding things like gentle physical activity (more on that in a moment), spending time in nature, and engaging in hobbies or activities you enjoy as these things can provide much-needed stress relief. 

Tip 2: Practice journaling to help emotions in a healthy way and gain clarity on things that you find stressful. Making it a practice to write down your thoughts, gratitudes, and feelings can help reduce the psychological and emotional burden that stress can have. By journaling, you’re able to process complex emotions, get them out of your head, thus leading to decreased cortisol levels and promoting a greater level of peace. For me personally, journaling through my prayers and writing scriptures from the Bible and how it applies to my current situation is always my best medicine for stress!

Tip 3: Establishing boundaries and learn to say “no”. this is a hard one but setting boundaries is essential for protecting your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. By creating these boundaries, you prevent various things like overcommitment and overwhelm. When you create space in your life, you reduce the chronic stress that can dysregulate the HPA-axis. Saying no to unnecessary obligations preserves energy reserves, promotes balance in hormone levels, and supports the body’s ability to manage stress more effectively.

By prioritizing these stress management techniques, you can support your HPA-axis and keep it functioning at its best.

BALANCED WORKOUT FOR HPA-AXIS TREATMENT

Over-exercising often flies under the radar as a significant contributor to chronic stress, quietly burdening the body and exacerbating dysregulation within the HPA-axis. Instead of persisting with strenuous workout regimens, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of scaling back and adopting a more balanced approach to physical activity. 

Tip 1: Always try to go for gentle forms of exercise, both for hpa-axis treatment and supporting autoimmunity. You can try out activities like hiking, walking, bike rides, and pilates. These not only give you a break from high-intensity workouts but also provide an opportunity for rest, nurturing both the body and the mind. 

Tip 2: Focus on recovery for HPA-axis treatment by adding in foam rolling, slow stretching, and intentional rest between workouts. Prioritizing recovery alongside your exercise routine is essential for supporting your body’s repair and regeneration processes and reducing stress on the HPA-axis. Keep in mind, proper recovery is just as crucial as the workout itself in maintaining a healthy balance within your body.

Tips 3: Listen to your body when you’re working out! Pay attention to what it’s telling you, whether that’s fatigue, stress, or discomfort, or even pain afterwards, be sure to adjust your workout accordingly. This is such a great way of honoring your body’s limits and avoiding pushing yourself too hard. 

By prioritizing these low-intensity movements, you can effectively mitigate the risk of overexertion, promote HPA-axis health, and foster a more sustainable approach to your fitness and health.

ADAPTOGENS FOR HPA-AXIS TREATMENT

Adaptogens, true to their name, are remarkable in managing stress. Personally, I’ve found rhodiola, ashwagandha, and licorice to be particularly effective in supporting my own stress and also in the clients I work with. 

Tip 1: Rhodiola can support mental clarity and resilience by regulating neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Its adaptogenic properties help enhance cognitive function, improve mood, combat fatigue, and allow for focus and productivity when stress hits!

Tip 2: Ashwagandha helps to regulate stress hormone levels, particularly cortisol. By reducing cortisol levels, ashwagandha often provides that sense of calm and equilibrium, reducing feelings of anxiety, and serving as a great support for HPA-axis dysfunction.

Tip 3: Licorice contains compounds that support adrenal function, such as glycyrrhizin and flavonoids. These powerful compounds help regulate cortisol levels and the body’s stress response, offering that sustained energy and support for HPA-axis dysfunction.

These potent herbs are available in various forms, such as teas, capsules, and tinctures, making them super easy to incorporate into your daily routine. For me personally, I like to add adaptogens to my coffees, teas, smoothies, and even recipes!

SUPPLEMENTS FOR HPA-AXIS TREATMENT

Nutrient deficiencies and/or imbalances are a sneaky cause of HPA-axis dysfunction. Be sure to test your levels of the following first, and with a practitioners guidance, consider supplementation:

  • Vitamin C: Supports adrenal gland function and helps regulate cortisol levels.
  • CoQ10: Provides energy production support for the adrenal glands.
  • Vitamin D: Plays a role in regulating cortisol levels and supporting overall adrenal health.
  • Glutathione: Acts as a potent antioxidant, protecting the adrenal glands from oxidative stress.
  • B-Vitamins: Essential for energy production and neurotransmitter synthesis, crucial for adrenal function.
  • Selenium: Supports thyroid function which indirectly benefits adrenal health.
  • Magnesium: Facilitates enzyme reactions involved in hormone synthesis and stress response.
  • Sodium: Helps maintain electrolyte balance which is essential for adrenal gland function.

For a one-stop shop for the best quality supplements all in one place, check out my Fullscript supplement dispensary, here

TOXINS TO AVOID FOR HPA-AXIS TREATMENT

Exposure to everyday toxins puts greater stress on the body. Consider toxins in your foods, cosmetics, cleaning products, furniture, clothing, drinking water, and more. As best you can, limit your exposure to common toxins, like parabens, pesticides, herbicides, GMO, and more. I’ve found simple everyday products we often use make a great place to start! 

Tip 1: Swap your laundry detergent and cleaning products for Truly Free. This amazing brand known for its commitment to producing non-toxic, plant-based cleaning products that are safe for both your health and the environment. Their products are free from harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, and toxic additives, making them an incredible choice for those looking to detoxify the home and create a cleaner environment. Truly Free has an array of products that you can trust will support your HPA-axis and reduce your exposure to the harmful substances. 

Tip 2: Swap your skincare. ClearStem is THE #1 skincare line specifically for aging and acne prone skin. Their products are intentionally crafted to be free of pore-cloggers and hormone disruptors, making them a perfect match. Developed by acne specialists, CLEARSTEM formulas nourish your skin while simultaneously calming inflammation, reducing acne, and even reversing acne scars in the safest possible way. As an added bonus, they’re gluten-free, cruelty-free, silicone-free, and toxin-free, making sure that you’re protecting your skin.

If you want to experience the CLEARSTEM glow (yes it is a thing) for yourself, use code “NIKKIYELTONRD” at checkout to save 15% off your purchase! 

Tip 3: Swap your makeup. Consider switching to PRIIA minerale-derm Cosmetics to support your HPA-axis. PRIIA products are non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic, which means that they won’t clog your pores or cause more breakouts. With PRIIA you can feel confident in using products free from bismuth oxychloride, talc, cornstarch, and other pore-clogging or acnegenic ingredients, helping to maintain glowing skin health and reduce stress on your HPA axis.

daily stressors that affect hpa-axis
WATER & HYDRATION FOR HPA-AXIS TREATMENT

Hydration plays a crucial role in supporting the health of our HPA-axis. Adequate hydration ensures optimal circulation of hormones and nutrients, facilitating proper function of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands. 

Furthermore, staying well-hydrated helps to regulate cortisol levels, reducing the impact of stress on the body. Consuming filtered water is particularly important for HPA-axis health, as it minimizes exposure to contaminants that can disrupt hormone balance and add additional stress to the body. 

Tip 1: Add a pinch of salt to your water.

Tip 2: Drink half your body weight in ounces of water.

Tip 3: Filter your water! I recommend the AquaTru system for countertop filtration or the Pur2o whole home filtration system for their exceptional quality and effectiveness in providing clean, purified water. 

With its four-stage reverse osmosis filtration process, AquaTru effectively removes a ton of contaminants found in water, such as lead, chlorine, fluoride, and pharmaceutical residues. In choosing the AquaTru system, you’re not only taking proactive steps to safeguard your health but also supporting the function of your HPA-axis by reducing your exposure to harmful toxins and promoting hydration with the best, purest water.

Similarly, the Pur2o system’s state-of-the-art technology removes harmful contaminants like lead, chlorine, and pesticides, ensuring that every drop of water that runs throughout your home is safe and pure. By installing the Pur2o whole home filtration system, you’re protecting your family from potential health risks associated with contaminated water and supporting the health of your HPA-axis by reducing your exposure to toxins.

These two units provide the highest level of purification, ensuring that you have access to the cleanest and most healthful drinking water possible. Investing in either one of these is a really incredible step towards safeguarding the health of your HPA-axis.

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE  FOR HPA-AXIS TREATMENT? 

As you can now see, HPA-axis treatment is possible for those with leaky gut and autoimmune conditions. Since stress plays a vital role in our day to day lives, it’s no surprise that we all have some level of HPA-axis dysfunction. In my virtual practice, I help women to heal leaky gut to reverse autoimmunity. I find the steps we take to do that will also be the best form of HPA-axis treatment and they both go hand in hand. 

If you are serious about getting the help you need to feel better and reverse your autoimmune disease (yes it is possible to get autoimmunity into remission and feel amazing), then please reach out or check out my programs! There’s so much hope for you along the way and I would love to walk you through this journey to recovery! 

WRAPPING IT ALL UP

HPA-axis dysregulation might not be a topic of everyday conversation, but its significance in shaping our health cannot be overstated, especially in the modern world’s hustle and bustle. As you grow on your journey of nurturing and supporting your HPA-axis with leaky gut and autoimmunity, remember that every small change you make is a step in the right direction!

Whenever you are feeling stressed and out of balance, I hope you will visit this article back again and implement these 8 natural strategies for HPA-axis treatment! How are you going to prioritizing your stress response this week? Let me know in the comments below! 

hpa-axis treatment
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"When it comes to balancing our body, healing the gut, reversing autoimmunity, and achieving optimal health—we are a lot like a car that won’t run right. In order to fix the problem once and for all instead of relying on jumper cables, we must get underneath the hood, run the diagnostics, and replace the battery so that it runs good as new."

-Nikki Yelton, RD

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