We live in a time where busy is a good thing, almost sought after. A time where anything less than multi-tasking is unacceptable. The problem with that mentality is it creates a lot of stress. It’s stressful to have a full calendar, multiple responsibilities, and a to do list that never seems to end. Stress wreaks havoc on our minds and bodies, and it can manifest into something called adrenal fatigue.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is a syndrome caused by poorly functioning adrenal glands. Despite it not currently being a medically recognized condition, though adrenal insufficiency is, many suffer from the symptoms. When our stress levels rise, the adrenals produce hormones, such as cortisol. In times of chronic stress, the adrenals keep up this response and continue to tell the body it’s an emergency. If cortisol levels remain elevated in the body it can affect proper functions, such as sleep, digestion, immune function, and the production of essential hormones. Cushing’s syndrome, an adrenal disorder, is caused when there is too much cortisol in the body. Inversely, if overworked adrenals can’t make enough hormones, that can lead to another adrenal disorder, Addison’s disease. Adrenal fatigue is caused when the adrenals can no longer meet the demands of stress and maintain homeostasis in the body, usually due to over-stimulation.
What are the Signs?
If your adrenal glands can’t handle the demands of stress, you may experience some of these symptoms:
- Chronic tiredness or tiredness without reason
- Trouble getting out of bed, even with enough sleep
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Trouble completing a task or staying focused
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Salty or sweet cravings
- Feel more alert and awake after 6PM than the rest of the day
- Have a hard time bouncing back from illness
- Frequent Anxiety
- Reduced Sex Drive
- Numbness in hands
- Trouble losing weight or weight gain
What to Do?
If you suspect you have adrenal fatigue or any adrenal disorder, you should discuss your symptoms with your doctor. There is evidence to suggest that changes in diet and routine can help alleviate symptoms of adrenal failure.
Go to Bed by 10:30 PM
Getting your body’s sleep rhythm back on track is important and can help reduce many of these symptoms. Circadian rhythms, also known as out body clock, are where this tip comes from. It’s believed that natural melatonin is released in the evening, specifically at between 8 PM and 12 AM, peaking at 11 PM. If you’re in bed by 10:30, you’ll be more likely to benefit from melatonin, a natural hormone in our bodies. Going to bed early is also more likely to give you necessary REM sleep and restorative sleep, which will help you to feel rested.
Time You Meals
Just like with circadian sleep rhythms, our bodies and the release of cortisol follow a pattern driving our appetite as well. Eating at regular intervals helps to regulate cortisol levels, which is crucial when it comes to combatting adrenal fatigue. Cortisol peaks around 8 AM and slowly tapers off. Eating a larger meal in the morning is inline with this, and helps support natural cortisol levels. It’s best to eat within the first hour of waking up, and then eat a small snack between well-spaced meals.
Eat the Right Stuff
Weight gain is a secondary symptom of adrenal fatigue. This is due to not only the physical fatigue, but also the excess levels of cortisol in the body. It may be hard to avoid the sweets if you’re experiences this common symptom from adrenal fatigue. However, opting for a sugary snack or treat is only going to lead to a spike in blood sugar and a crash afterwards. That’s not what you need when you’re already experiencing a lack of energy. Also, try to limit caffeine as an artificial energy booster, or at the very list, not in the 8 hours before bedtime.
As for the salty cravings associated with adrenal fatigue, it may be worth giving into. With increased levels of cortisol, another hormone drops; aldosterone. This hormone regulates blood pressure and low levels of it can translate to low blood pressure and an electrolyte imbalance. Overall, a diet of whole and unprocessed foods has been successful for some dealing with adrenal fatigue, along with other lifestyle changes. Avoiding inflammatory foods may help alleviate symptoms as well as staying hydrated.
Get Enough Vitamin B
As someone who experienced a vitamin B12 deficiency, I can tell you it affects energy. Getting enough of this vitamin is important to combat the symptoms of fatigue. Taking a complete vitamin B supplement can help feed the adrenals. especially B5 and B6.
Make sure you’re getting enough nutrients all around. A deficiency in magnesium, for example can exasperate poor sleep symptoms. Vitamin D, which most people are deficient in, selenium, and zinc are also important nutrients to consider.
Do Your Best to De-Stress
Since stress is the underlying cause of adrenal fatigue. it’s important to try and get to the root of the problem. You may not be able to eliminate all, or even any of the stressors in your life, but you can try to cope with them differently. First, see what stressors can be removed from your life and make any necessary changes to do so. Changing how you cope with stress can help your body deal with it better. Consider taking up yoga or meditation to help relax you and your mind. Other forms of exercise may also be helpful to cope with stress, but it’s important not to over exert yourself and add more exhaustion.
Give it Time
When the natural rhythms or your body and your hormone levels are out of whack, it can take time to get thing back in order. With the help of your doctor and making the above adjustments to your life, you can see some changes in the symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue. It may take weeks, it may take months to see a complete shift to feeling back to normal, or better.