What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is a stress-related condition that occurs when the adrenal glands function below their optimal levels. The adrenal glands are small, rounded glands on top of each kidney. They are essential for life, as they secrete hormones that prepare the body to respond to stress (Wilson, 2014).
The adrenals are our “fight or flight” glands (Bauman, 2015). They perform several vital roles in maintaining health. Their most important function is to control the body’s response to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol, noradrenalin, and epinephrine. The adrenal glands also produce other hormones like DHEA, pregnenelone, progesterone, and testosterone.
Adrenal fatigue (hypoadrenia) is the result of repeated overstimulation of the adrenal glands for a long period due to chronic stress. Over time the adrenal glands may no longer be able to adequately respond to stressful situations.
Signs and Symptoms
Constantly feeling exhausted is one of the most common symptoms in Adrenal Fatigue. Other symptoms include feeling very tired in the morning and wide awake at night, inability to handle stress, cravings for salty foods, a weakened immune system, disruption of healthy sleeping patterns, digestive and thyroid issues, and low sex drive.
Restoring Adrenal Health
Stress increases our bodies’ need for energy, and nutrients are burned up much faster when we experience stress (Wilson, 2014). Actively choosing foods that aid and support recovery is the foundation for any healing process.
When it comes to adrenal health, a blood sugar balancing diet with a focus on high quality proteins and fats is crucial (Bauman, 2015). Fats and proteins are important for the formation of hormones, neurotransmitters, and enzymes necessary for the restoration of adrenal health.
Foods to add
- Green tea or matcha tea as a replacement for coffee
- Healthy fats – avocado, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, nuts (Brazil nuts) and seeds
- Clean protein – wild caught fish, pasture raised eggs, free range chicken, grass fed beef, nuts, broccoli, quinoa, beans, hemp seeds, kale, and spinach
- Pink Himalayan salt – a better choice for salt as it is unprocessed and contains 84 trace minerals
- Fermented foods – sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir for better digestion
- Leafy greens – spinach, kale, romaine, arugula, collards, dandelion greens, and fresh herbs are high in magnesium, vitamin C, iron and chlorophyll
- Seaweed – contains iodine and other minerals that support the adrenal gland
- Low sugar fruits and citrus fruits and colorful veggies – provide us with fiber, sweetness, flavor, and essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes
Foods to avoid
- Coffee – coffee is a stimulant and stimulates the adrenals to produce cortisol and adrenaline
- Soda, energy drinks – caffeine and sugar overwork the adrenal glands
- Refined sugar – causes blood sugar spikes and provides no nutritional value
- Processed foods – these foods are void of nutrients and make the body work harder to process all the chemicals, trans fats, toxins, and preservatives
- Table salt – has been stripped of all its minerals, is mostly sodium chloride, and contains anticaking agents
- Any food you’re allergic to – eating foods you’re allergic to triggers the immune response which results in inflammation and creates stress in the body
Adaptogens are a unique group of herbs used to improve the health of the adrenal system. They help strengthen the body’s response to stress, enhance its ability to cope with anxiety, and fight fatigue.
These herbs restore overall balance. They can be strengthening and/or relaxing, depending on the body’s needs. When taken daily as a tea, tincture, or extract, these herbs may help improve your mental functioning. Examples of adaptogenic herbs include ginseng, holy basil, ashwagandha, rhodiola, licorice, and maca.
- Balance the blood sugar by eating regularly throughout the day.
- Sleep 8 to 9 hours per night. Try to be in bed by 10 or 10:30 pm.
- Journal both positive and negative thoughts to get them out of your head. Write three things you’re grateful before bedtime to end the day on a positive note.
- Moderate exercise – walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi daily.
- Meditation and breathing. Even 5-10 minutes per day is beneficial! Breathe deep whenever you are feeling stressed.
- Recognize perceived stress and learn to let go.
When the root cause of adrenal fatigue is addressed, (which are the stressors in your life), the adrenals can heal and begin to function normally. By changing our diet, lifestyle, and how we manage stress, adrenal fatigue can be reversed.
Adrenal Fatigue Solutions: Various Articles, www.adrenalfatiguesolution.com
Bauman, E. et al (2015): Therapeutic Nutrition, Part 1, Penngrove, CA: Bauman College
Mayo Clinic: Adrenal Fatigue, FAQ (2014). www.mayoclinic.org
Murray, M. et al (2012): The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 3rd Edition, Atria, New York
Wilson, James L. (2014): Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Smart Publications
World’s Heathiest Foods: www.whfoods.com