Can’t seem to make it through the day or regain your energy no matter what you do? You could be suffering from adrenal fatigue. I’ve seen this condition in both the “unhealthiest” people, and in the “healthiest” people.
Anyone can experience adrenal fatigue at some point in his or her life. Nutrient deficiencies, inadequate rest, a life crisis or too many pressures, can all drain the adrenals of even the healthiest person. I too, suffered from adrenal fatigue in my early thirties. It was exhausting!
Adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system. They produce estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, cortisone, adrenalin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Our adrenals help us cope with everyday stress and survival and are involved in the recovery of chronic diseases, energy levels, and endurance. The quality of our health depends on the optimum functioning of our adrenals.
Symptoms indicating your adrenals may need some TLC:
- Chronic fatigue (lack of energy even after a full nights sleep)
- Lightheaded and dizzy
- Both low and high blood pressure
- Brain fog and forgetfulness (why the heck am I reading this blog?)
- Poor immunity; allergies, colds, slow recovery from infections
- Craving salty and sugary foods for stimulation and energy
- Unexplained hair loss
- Morning nausea (and you’re not pregnant!)
- Decreased sex drive
- Insomnia and/or restless sleep
“When your body is under stress – physical stress from infection, illness, or disease and/or emotional stress – the adrenal glands respond by stepping up cortisol production. Cortisol helps your body deal with stress and curbs inflammation. Without enough cortisol, you may experience increased infections, nausea, and changes in blood pressure and blood sugar. Adrenal gland syndrome results when your adrenal glands can no longer meet your body’s demands for cortisol.”
And, if too much cortisol is circulating in your system, the opposite can happen – you can experience anxiety, restlessness and an inability to sleep.
Many foods, substances, and other factors can exacerbate adrenal stress:
- Refined sugars and simple carbohydrates, soda and sweet drinks
- Pesticides, additives, and artificial sweeteners (endocrine disruptors)
- Excessive amounts of caffeine
- Drug abuse – both prescription drugs and street drugs
- High glycemic dried fruits that can spike blood sugar levels
- Carbohydrate meals without adequate protein and fat to slow sugar absorption
- Candida overgrowth, digestive disorders, cancer and chronic illnesses
- Constantly on “go” without rest
- Pregnancy and breast feeding – adrenal fatigue results if the mother does not eat enough nutrient dense foods and/or iodine rich foods
- Thyroid disease*
*Compromised adrenals puts the body in a state of catabolism (break down). When this happens, the thyroid naturally slows metabolism, leading to hypothyroidism and/or Hashimoto’s. If the adrenals are properly supported, the thyroid naturally balances itself. For more info on Thyroid see Thyroid DVD.
To reclaim our energy it’s imperative to reduce stress, get adequate sleep, and support the body with wholesome foods.
When I was in my early thirties, I suffered with Adrenal Fatigue. My blood pressure was 80 over 50 (yikes!), I was exhausted, and my immune system kept crashing. At that time I was vegan; abstaining from animal protein, animal fat, and any product made from animals. My meals were ALL carbohydrate, all the time: whole grains, beans, vegetables, sea vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fruits. Which seemed pretty healthy to me, but eating that way for a long period of time led to a deficiency in my body. Once the imbalance was adjusted my body began rebuilding it’s energy reserves. It was a good lesson to learn about food the energetics of food.
Adrenal recovery can take anywhere from three months to three years depending on the severity of the condition.
Relax… as long as you are alive and breathing you can improve any condition. We need to learn how to be patient with our beautiful body. It heals at a pace that is not accepted by modern society – slowly.
Some tips to begin your healing process:
- Eat breakfast that includes some protein and fat. Examples: oatmeal with full fat yogurt, eggs with butter and whole grain bread, or grits with greens and sausage.
- Snack on protein & carbohydrates (trail mix, egg salad on sliced daikon radish, turkey roll ups) rather than just carbohydrates (crackers, pretzels, dried fruits, chocolate).
- Eat vegetables and fruits (both cooked and raw) with sea salt to balance sodium/potassium levels.
- Eat protein and fat from naturally raised animals to help support hormone and glucagon production.
- Drink nourishing bone stocks for deep nutrition!
Lifestyle behaviors can support or drain us as well.
Stress-relieving activities like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help.
Avoiding stress producers like unhealthy relationships, or learning how to deal with those people more effectively would be a good idea, too.
Adrenal Fatigue indicates a “deficiency.” Just like your daily diet, your body, mind and emotions may be running on empty. Where do you need to fill up?
Begin asking these questions:
- Is my diet working for me? Am I deficient in any nutrients?
- Does my daily work fill me with energy or does it deplete me?
- Are my relationships with other people, and with myself, in harmony?
- Am I enjoying life and refueling myself with things I love to do?
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Andrea Beaman is an internationally renowned Holistic Health Coach, Natural Foods Chef, Speaker and Herbalist. Named one of the top 100 Most Influential Health and Fitness Experts, she is also a recipient of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Award for Excellence in Health-Supportive Education and a Health Leadership award from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Since 1999, Andrea has been teaching people how to harness the body’s own preventative and healing powers using food, herbal remedies and alternative medicine.