Have you ever woken up weary-eyed, looked at your alarm clock, and wanted to crawl back under the sheets, still feeling tired, despite the 9 hours of sleep? Can’t seem to regain your normal energy, no matter what you do or how many doctors you visit?
The easy, relaxed lifestyle experienced by our ancestors no longer exists – and we’re not even aware of how much stress we’re under. The problem? Our lifestyles have changed, but our bodies haven’t.
There is hope!
The result you are looking at is Adrenal Fatigue (technically called Hypoadrenia), commonly referred to as “the glands of stress”. The purpose of your adrenal glands is to help your body cope with stresses and survive, along with secreting more than 50 hormones necessary for life; some known as epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), progesterone and testosterone. Since they produce so many essential hormones, the adrenal glands are responsible for many of the functions we need to stay alive and healthy, including:
- Energy production – carbohydrate, protein and fat conversion to blood glucose for energy
- Fluid and electrolyte balance
- Fat storage
Of the 50 necessary hormones secreted, cortisol is extremely important for keeping our body systems in balance, as well as protecting our cells. Besides normalizing our blood sugar levels and regulating our blood pressure, cortisol also controls the strength of our immune system, which affects our susceptibility to infection and cancer.
Fast-paced, high-stress, fear-based lifestyles, added to poor nutrition, low-calorie diets and lack of quality sleep, are a perfect recipe for adrenal burnout. Studies have proven there is a link between high cortisol levels and storage of body fat, particularly “visceral” abdominal body fat. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only answer to excess body weight; high levels of cortisol are merely one contributing factor to storage of abdominal fat, not the primary cause.
With that in mind, it has been known for over half a century that 80% of those suffering from adrenal fatigue also have a number of symptoms of low thyroid, such as weight gain, even when eating the right foods. Unlike the adrenals, that have many functions, the thyroid has one major function: to control the rate at which energy is produced in the individual cells of the body.
The connection between these two major endocrine glands means they act simultaneously. If your adrenal fatigue has a thyroid component, it is necessary to strengthen and restore both glands for full recovery to take place.
Adrenal fatigue can be overcome, and energy restored. As with so many problems, recovery starts with making the right diagnosis.
Even with an absolute flood of health books in the last decade, adrenal fatigue has been one of the most prevalent yet rarely diagnosed conditions. Most “conventional” doctors being unaware that the problem exists, it leaves patients with diagnoses that include Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia or their “congratulated” low blood pressure.
Assessing your own stress levels can be difficult. Even if you don’t feel stressed, you may have contributing stressors in your life, or as Dr James Wilson likes to call them, “energy robbers”.
You can check yourself for Adrenal Fatigue by the symptoms you are experiencing; the severity and frequency of the symptom will give you an idea of how your body is coping with your level of stress:
- Morning fatigue – seems to lift by 10 am even if you’ve been awake since 7am
- Afternoon low between 2pm – 4pm
- Decreased tolerance or patience
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Decreased libido
- Increased PMS
- Sugar or salt cravings
- Frequent sighing
- Increased allergies
- Mild depression
- Dizzy spells upon standing
- Lack of energy or motivation
Excessive stress, the key ingredient to adrenal fatigue, can be from many sources. Nutritional depletion, a common cause; harmful substances, such as environmental toxicity from air, water and food, along with exposure to heavy metals; over-the-counter medications, or chronic infections, may weaken our body’s overall ability to eliminate toxins, further weakening the adrenals.
Optimal adrenal health is one of the major keys to happiness and enjoyment in life. With that in mind, it’s important we encourage recovery to a healthy lifestyle, and eliminate the most common dietary energy robbers, such as caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Even though stimulants are attractive to one with adrenal fatigue to provide a temporary energy source, elimination is essential for recovery.
The road to recovery can be long, depending on your symptoms and how well you choose to eliminate and change habits, which act as a burden to your body. A healthy lifestyle including clean eating and dietary supplements, including herbs such as Liquorice, Siberian Ginseng and Withania, not only help speed the recovery, but are known specifically for their restorative effects of the weakened glands.
- Magnesium (400mg –600mg daily)
- Vitamin B5 (up to 1500mg daily)
- Vitamin B6 (50 -100mg daily)
- Wholesome food choices
- Adding sea salt to your diet to replace table salt
- Adequate sleep – retiring before 10pm
- Moderate Exercise
- No block-out blinds (wake to natural light)
If you feel you may have an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) working alongside the adrenal fatigue, you may find 500mg Taurine daily, Selenium and Iodine also effective for your overall road to recovery.
It is important to rest, be happy and enjoy the things we do very little of: sleep in, laugh, be grateful, eat foods our body needs, and eat an abundance of whole foods just like nature intended us to.