Are you waking up tired even after a good night’s sleep? Do you crave sugar like nobody’s business? Do you have to use toothpicks to keep your eyes open around 3pm? Do you suffer from low grade anxiety or depression? If you are a woman, are your cycles all over the place or possibly having trouble getting pregnant? Low libido? Digestive complaints? Wow, this list could go on and on…
Have you ever heard of adrenal fatigue? If you hangout with anyone in the alternative medicine community, otherwise known as the “crunchy” or “granola” people, you have most likely heard the term. But do you really understand what is going on and what you can do about it? If you don’t know the term at all or you think cheese burgers should be at the top of the food chain and water should only be used to shower with and not as a beverage, please read on, you probably have adrenal fatigue and could really benefit from getting your s**t together (I mean, doing a couple things to help take care of your health).
Couple important points: adrenal fatigue is NOT a medical diagnosis. It is a term for the gray area, the in-between: where you are not a 100% healthy nor can you take a pill for a diagnosed medical condition. It simply means your adrenals have been overloaded and will inevitably lead to health concerns in the future. HOWEVER, if you address your lifestyle with the suggestions below, you can do something about those future health concerns.
Why are you suffering from adrenal fatigue? I have found the number one cause of adrenal fatigue to be stress! NO brainer right?! And not very helpful right?! Let me try to explain this vague term “stress” and even better, give you a couple things to do about it! I give almost every new patient the following analogy: we are born with a “stress glass” (in more scientific terms: how our hormones via adrenal glands in combination with our nervous systems handle stress). Now, we don’t get to pick the size of the “stress glass”, this is left up to genetics. Some people are born with a shot glass and some people get a gallon jug. We are constantly filling our “stress glass” with, well you guessed it, stress. In the forms of physical trauma, poor posture, excess sugar, household chemicals, negative thoughts, mental/emotional stress, processed foods and so much more. Our bodies handle these stresses unbelievably well, that is, until our “stress glass” starts to run over with these burdens. Then our bodies start compensating to handle the excess stress. This will eventually lead to “adrenal fatigue” as our adrenals become over burdened. Soon after, we will start to experience the symptoms mentioned above and more.
Below are ten easy steps to help combat adrenal fatigue but remember, if you have any major medical diagnoses, concerns about the advice given, or your symptoms stay the same or get worst please seek professional help.
- Drink more water! Water should be filtered and consumed in-between meals to keep from diluting stomach acid and therefore the breakdown of consumed foods.
- Add a pinch of sea salt to your water or drink mineral water. The minerals provided by doing this will make it easier on your body to absorb water! A common problem when the adrenals are not functioning optimally.
- Eliminate processed sugar from your diet. Don’t argue, just do it! Blood sugar balance and adrenal fatigue go hand-in-hand. You can’t fix one without fixing the other.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently. Again with the balancing the blood sugar and adrenal connection. Eating regularly keeps blood sugar balanced. These meals should be mainly vegetables, meat protein, and healthy fats (in that order).
- Three to four days a week add a quick five-minute high intensity exercise program to your schedule around 7am. This is the time of day our cortisol (a major hormone produced by the adrenals that helps regulate our energy output and indirectly effects our wake/sleep cycles) should be the highest. The high intensity exercise will help spike your cortisol, therefore “retraining” the body to produce the most cortisol when it naturally should.
- Try to get regular, un-interrupted sleep. The more sleep you get before midnight the better. This is tied into the whole cortisol deal of when it should be highest and when it should be lowest (ie somewhere between 9pm and 12am).
- Participate in activities that help increase oxygen and decrease stress such as gentle yoga, meditation, qigong, prayer, deep breathing etc. Increased oxygen can help regulate the hormone production done by the adrenals.
- Seek alternative therapies to aid in healing. Chiropractic, massage and acupuncture are all great ways to help eliminate all kinds of stress from your “stress glass”.
- If you are going through any major life changes and under a huge amount of mental/emotional stress please seek the help of counselors. Journal or talk with friends/families. Remember, emotions can easily manifest themselves in all kinds of physically ways in our body. Find healthy ways to help ride your body of negative thoughts and emotions.
- There are several supplements and herbs that can aid in adrenal fatigue. As always, it is best to ask a professional before taking any of these products. B vitamins, vitamin C and zinc are cofactors in many of the hormonal cascades produced by the adrenals. Herbs like ashwagandha, ginseng, astragalus, eleuthero, schizandra, tulsi, and rhodiola can help aid the body is regulating cortisol levels and decrease the effects of daily stresses.
Well there you have it! I hope at least a couple of the things mentioned above are easily doable for you and hopefully something you haven’t tried before. Please be kind and patient with yourself as you heal. Our adrenals do not become fatigued overnight and neither will they magically heal overnight either. The more over-run your adrenals are, the longer it may take to heal them and the more lifestyle adaptations will need to be applied. Best of luck in emptying that glass of yours!