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The Basics of Adrenal Fatigue – Why Your Energy is Low
- Adrenal fatigue is more common than you think. In fact, some sources believe that 80% of people around the world suffer with adrenal fatigue symptoms and problems.
- The adrenal glands are responsible for balancing a host of hormones in your system, which can impact everything from your fat-burning processes, to your sleeping patterns.
- The signs of adrenal fatigue can range from constant tiredness, to difficulty getting up in the morning, and the inability to handle stress. Some people also suffer from a weakened immune system, and less common conditions such as dry skin, dizziness, and low blood pressure.
- A host of different factors can cause adrenal fatigue. The most common issue is stress, which we encounter regularly in our everyday lives. However, diet, lack of sleep, exposure to constant environmental toxins, and chronic disease or trauma can all have a role to play too.
- Healing adrenal fatigue often begins with an examination of your diet. Removing caffeine, sugars, and processed foods from your meals can help to prevent excess pressure on the adrenals, allowing them to work as they should. What’s more, foods that support adrenal function like avocados, chicken, and seeds will all help to enhance your health.
- Adrenal fatigue can even be managed with the use of certain supplements like magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, and holy basil.
- Besides diet, it’s crucial to consider ways of managing stress when you’re looking to heal adrenal fatigue. That means getting plenty of sleep, maintaining good relationships, and giving yourself a break.
- It’s important to address the root cause of adrenal fatigue by clearing out pathogens and toxins from your body. I can help you do that in my At-Home program!
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
You may be surprised to learn that Adrenal Fatigue is a common ailment. The reason is simple: it just doesn’t fit into standard accepted categories for disease, so most doctors are either unwilling, or unable to diagnose it.
Despite this, it’s estimated that adrenal fatigue impacts various systems and aspects of our health. In fact, some sources suggest that 80% of people across the globe suffer from adrenal fatigue. For some the problem occurs following periods of severe stress but others get adrenal fatigue as a side effect of trauma or chronic disease. Whatever causes your adrenal problems, adrenal fatigue can lead to several debilitating symptoms that can limit your enjoyment of everyday life.
Research shows that adrenal fatigue can also prompt excess fat storage, making it difficult to lose weight. For those who are new to the concept of adrenal fatigue this article will give you a quick insight into the details you need to know. You’ll discover how your adrenal glands work, the symptoms of fatigue, the causes of adrenal issues, and how you can start healing this issue for good!
Introducing Your Adrenal Glands
The adrenal glands are two thumb-sized organs situated just above your kidneys. They are part of the endocrine system, and may also be referred to as the “suprarenal glands” in some medical circles. Adrenal glands are responsible for producing over fifty different types of hormones, which drive nearly every bodily function. That means that these little glands impact every aspect of your wellbeing.
The adrenal glands work alongside the pituitary gland and hypothalamus in a system called the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis). They are significant in the realm of stress response, as when your brain perceives a threat, it prompts your adrenal glands to release adrenaline, and send blood to the necessary muscles throughout your body. Adrenal glands are also responsible for balancing hormones like:
- Glucocorticoids – Hormones that balance blood sugar levels, helping to manage immune response and food processing.
- Mineralocorticoids – Hormones that maintain blood pressure and manage blood hydration levels.
- Sex hormones – Hormones like testosterone and estrogen.
- Adrenaline – The hormones that affect heart health and ensure that all parts of your body receive the right amount of blood.
Recognizing the Signs of Adrenal Fatigue
As you would probably expect, fatigue is one of the most common symptoms that people experience when suffering with adrenal fatigue. However, it’s not the only sign that you’re suffering from an adrenaline-gland problem. Adrenal fatigue also promotes lower levels of specific hormones and neurotransmitters in your system that can impact almost every part of your body.
The complicated part about adrenal fatigue is that it can affect different people in different ways. Some of the most common symptoms of adrenal fatigue might include:
Difficulty Getting up in a Morning
Often, those suffering from adrenal fatigue wake up feeling extremely tired and foggy, even after a long sleep. This can be caused by multiple factors. Usually, adrenal fatigue sufferers in the early stages of their condition are suffering from significant stress, meaning that cortisol and adrenaline levels are too high to permit for a natural sleeping cycle.
High levels of Fatigue
In the later stages of adrenal fatigue, your adrenals can become depleted and unable to produce the hormones that you need to function normally. This means that everything from adrenaline, to norepinephrine levels are lower than they should be. The lack of these crucial hormones makes it difficult for individuals with adrenal fatigue to lift themselves up and keep moving each day.
Inability to handle Stress
Everyone encounters stress from time to time. When we do, we rely upon our adrenals to release hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine to regulate our response, increase our strength, focus, and awareness. However, when the adrenal glands are exhausted, they can’t release the right number of hormones, leading to lack of enthusiasm, apathy, and irritability.
Cravings for Salty Food
Part of the adrenal gland named “the cortex” produces aldosterone – a mineralocorticoid which works alongside the kidneys to regulate mineral and fluid excretion. When adrenals are fatigued, we produce less of this crucial hormone, which leads us to excrete extra minerals in our urine, leading to cravings for salt and other strange foods.
More Energy in the Evenings
Low levels of cortisol in the body can wreak havoc with your energy levels all throughout the day. However, issues can appear more severe in an evening. In healthy people, cortisol reaches its highest point in the morning, then declines gradually throughout the day. However, some adrenal fatigue sufferers get their cortisol spikes later in the day, often leading to insomnia.
Dependence on Stimulants
If you find that you’re one of those people who is constantly focused on finding your next source of energy, from sugar, or caffeine, then this could be a sign you’re struggling with adrenal fatigue. While plenty of people use stimulants occasionally to help them get through the day, there’s a big difference between a single cup of coffee, and constantly consuming energy beverages.
A Weaker Immune System
Finally, cortisol has as an anti-inflammatory purpose that can assist in regulating the immune system. Inflammation is often a sign that your body is working to fight off an infection, but cortisol stops this reaction from getting out of hand. If you can’t produce enough cortisol, then your immune system may go into overdrive.
Less Common Signs
Besides the most common symptoms, there are plenty of other complaints that can be associated with adrenal fatigue. Some of these are linked to the issues we’ve outlined above, whereas others come on at certain stages of the adrenal fatigue experience. You might also see a handful of these symptoms when you have adrenal fatigue:
- Respiratory problems or asthma
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Dry skin
- Frequent urination
- Extreme tiredness after exercise
- Joint pain
- Loss of muscle tone
- Lines in the fingertips
- Weight gain
- Lower back pain
- Low sex drive
- Low blood sugar
- Low blood pressure
- Numbness in fingers and toes
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue Anyway?
The condition of adrenal fatigue happens when your glands and body are unable to keep up with the amount of stress you experience each day. Sometimes, this issue is misunderstood as an autoimmune disorder, and it can mimic many of the other symptoms associated with common disease and illnesses.
The most common causes of adrenal fatigue are:
- Stress: The number one cause of adrenal fatigue is stress. Stress can appear from various aspects of your life, whether it’s exposure to constant financial worry, love-life problems, or an unreasonable boss. Often, low-grade stress can feel manageable in the short-term, but it has dangerous effects on your health in the long term.
- Diet: We eat more sugar today than we ever have before, and that means our bodies have to work a lot harder at processing the glucose in our system. This means producing more insulin and cortisol, which expends extra stress through the adrenals and pancreas. Another problem is that as people suffer more frequently from issues of obesity, weight also places extra stress on the organs.
- Lack of Sleep: Your body needs restful sleep to repair itself on a day to day basis. If you get less than seven or eight hours of sleep a night, then you’ll be more likely to suffer from adrenal fatigue. That’s why it’s so crucial for people to work at maintaining healthy sleeping habits.
- Pollution and Toxins: Every year, around 2,000 new chemicals are introduced into the consumer marketplace. When we’re constantly exposed to these chemicals, toxins, and pollutants. This exposure start to place additional strain on our bodies and impacts our digestion, immune system, and adrenal function.
- Trauma and Chronic disease: Adrenal fatigue can sometimes be caused by long-term factors like chronic disease. Issues such as asthma, diabetes, arthritis, and more place demands on your adrenal glands that go far beyond the norm. When you suffer from conditions like these for a long time, your adrenals become overworked. Acute conditions of trauma can also have a severe effect on the adrenal glands. Trauma can include accidents and injuries, as well as surgeries and medical procedures.
Simply put, the problem of adrenal fatigue can stem from several different sources. Usually, part of the process for your treatment will involve looking at the factors in your life that might have contributed to adrenal based problems, and devising a plan to reduce exposure to those elements.
How to Heal Adrenal Fatigue with Diet
Typically, the treatment for adrenal fatigue will focus on reducing the amount of stress your body, and your glands have to deal with every day. This means limiting the pressures on your mind and physical self, as well as eliminating exposure to toxins, changing your diet, and making sure that your body has access to all the resources it needs for good, long-standing health.
Most experts believe that healthy adrenal glands begin with a healthy diet. As in every case of chronic illness, it seems that what you eat, and the way that you nourish your body could have a big part to play when it comes to determining how you feel. There are plenty of fantastic foods in the world that are well-suited to support adrenal function. These substances support your energy levels and promote healing so that your system begins working as it should be. However, before you can begin supplementing your diet with the right foods, you need to make sure that you’re getting toxins, and dangerous chemicals out of your system.
The idea is to remove anything from your plate that might impact your adrenals in a negative way. For instance, foods to avoid might include:
- Caffeine: Caffeine commonly interferes with your natural sleep cycle, making it much more difficult for your adrenals to recover after a hard day of work. For many people drinking coffee and sugary beverages can lead to a dangerous cycle in terms of adrenal fatigue. If you need to drink something caffeinated, you should aim to limit your intake, and restrain consumption to the morning.
- Sweeteners and sugars: Sugary foods can place additional stress on the adrenal glands because they force the system to produce more insulin and cortisol. Try to avoid sugary candies, fruits, foods, and cereals, and remember that sugar is an additive in many of the processed foods that we eat today. If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, raw honey or stevia is a great alternative.
- Processed Food: Any food that’s processed, or needs to be cooked in a microwave presents a unique set of dangers for your health. Most of these foods contain a huge number of preservatives that are difficult to digest, placing extra strain on your digestion cycle. Instead, look for natural and whole foods that are easier for your body to digest.
- Hydrogenated oils: Finally, vegetable oils like canola, soybean, and corn oil are all highly inflammatory substances which can damage your adrenal processes. Try to stick to oils that are rich in good fats, like olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil.
Now that you know which foods to keep out of your diet, it’s time to look at the foods that you should start introducing to your system to promote healthy adrenal function. Some of the most effective superfoods for health in the adrenal system include:
- Fatty fish like salmon
- Turkey and chicken
- Cruciferous vegetables (Brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale)
- Himalayan or celtic sea salt
- Seeds (flax, pumpkin, or chia)
- Nuts like almonds and walnuts
- Seaweed and kelp
All of these foods are dense in nutrients, low in sugar, and brimming with healthy fiber and fats.
Another key factor in overcoming adrenal fatigue is making sure that your body has access to the right vitamins and minerals. Though the dietary changes mentioned above can help with this, it’s also sometimes useful to consider supplements when issues with soil depletion and over-farming limit our exposure to natural nutrients.
The vitamins and supplements that you can use to improve adrenal function include:
- Vitamin C, B12, B5, and D3
- Fish oil
- Holy basil
Remember to Banish Stress too…
As important as diet and the right nutrition can be to improving adrenal function, it’s worth remembering that most adrenal fatigue issues come from over-exposure to stress. That means the only way to become, and stay healthy for as long as possible, is to limit your exposure to stress. In other words, pay attention to how you care for your mind and body.
Try some of the following simple tips:
- Get plenty of sleep (at least eight hours a night)
- Rest when you feel tired whenever you can
- Maintain a healthy sleeping cycle
- Eliminate relationships and activities that cause stress
- Find an excuse to laugh every day
- Eat the right foods, and get plenty of exercise to boost feel-good chemicals
- Avoid negative people
- Seek time for yourself
- Get help from a therapist or counselor
Perhaps one of the best things that you can do for yourself if you’re concerned that you might be suffering from adrenal fatigue, is make sure that you’re looking after your physical and emotional needs properly. Sometimes, that means coming to terms with the parts of your life that might be causing you discomfort, and giving yourself a break too.
These days, we frequently hold ourselves to unreasonable standards that are impossible to maintain. If you want to care for your body, and your mind, then you need to be willing to accept that you, like everyone else, are not perfect! Let yourself make mistakes, and find unique ways to cope with the stress that we all face from day to day. From exercising, to having fun with a loved one, there’s something that works for everybody.
Join my At-Home program if you want more information on how to get to the root cause of adrenals that feel like they crash too easily–you could be harboring an infection like parasites or chronic Lyme disease, or you might have heavy metals or other toxins you need to clear out!