Do you feel constantly tired after a good night of sleep? Do you find yourself drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks to help you feel energized throughout the day? Do you crave sweet and salty foods? Believe it or not these are common symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
The adrenal glands secrete precise and minute amounts of hormones when your body needs them. This also means that if you are under constant stress, whether, physical, environmental or emotional, your adrenal glands can become depleted.
In a society where we are plagued by poor diets, stress and long work hours, it’s no surprise that an estimated 80% percent of adults suffer from adrenal fatigue. Sadly, fatigue is such a common complaint that many doctors can miss the mark on this and simply attribute it to overwork or stress.
The mighty power of the adrenal glands
The adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys. No larger than a walnut and weighing less than a grape, these tiny glands have a major impact on every tissue, gland and organ in your body. While these glands are tiny, they have a tremendous impact on your energy levels and the way you think and feel.
The hormones the adrenals secrete influence all of the physiological processes in your body. They affect how your body uses carbs and fats, and the conversion of proteins and fats into energy. They also affect how your body distributes stored fat, regulates blood sugar, as well as cardiovascular and gastrointestinal function.
In addition the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant hormones secreted by the adrenals also help to minimize allergic reactions to foods, alcohol, drugs and environmental allergens.
Adrenal fatigue can often be preceded by severe infections, such as bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses. The more frequently illness occurs the more stress is created on the body and the more likely it becomes that the adrenals will become depleted.
Signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue
|Difficulty getting up in the morning
||Craving salty or sweet foods
|Continued fatigue not relieved by sleep
||Increased effort to get through the day
|Lack of energy/ Lethargy
||Difficulty handling stress
|Decreased sex drive
||Lengthy recovery time after illness or injury
|Light headed if standing too quickly
|Lack of interest or enjoyment with life
||Symptoms worsen with skipped meals
|Increased PMS symptoms
6 self-help tips for adrenal fatigue
It’s always important to remember that healing takes time. Your adrenals didn’t become depleted overnight, so you’re not going to get better overnight either. Lifestyle changes will be required to regain your health.
1. Healthy foods: Avoid processed foods whenever possible. Focus on whole, fresh organic foods. Make every bite count. When snacking don’t fill up on chips, instead focus on a protein rich snack to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
2. Sleep: Try to keep consistent hours for your sleep time. Be sure to avoid TV and electronic devices for an hour or so before bedtime.
3. Avoid sugar and stimulants: Sugar may give you the quick boost you need, but after your blood sugar level drops you feel more tired than before. Consider eating protein based foods that will nourish your body long term.
4. Reduce stress: Everyone is dealing with stress on some level. It’s important to have some type of outlet for your stress. Consider exercise, meditation, gardening, long walks or some other stress free activity you enjoy.
5. Supplements: Nutritional supplements play an important role in recovering from adrenal fatigue. You should talk with your healthcare practitioner about what suits your needs best. Choose organic, whole food supplements when possible. Some of the more important supplements to consider for adrenal fatigue are vitamin C, E, pantothenic acid, niacin, B6 and minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
6. Herbs: Six herbs worth considering for adrenal support include:
- Ashwagandha: Considered a great tonic herb and adaptogen.
- Ginger root: This adaptogen helps regulate cortisol levels, normalize blood pressure and heart rate.
- Gingko leaf: This powerful anti-oxidant helps to protect the adrenals, brain and liver from free radical damage.
- Korean ginseng: More suitable for men, than women. Helps increase cortisol levels.
- Licorice root: Supports adrenal function
- Siberian ginseng: Good for both men and women. Helps support and rejuvenate adrenals.
By Elisha McFarland N.D.
Guest writer for Wake Up World