What is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is a condition caused by overstimulation of your adrenal glands. This condition is typically caused by continuous high physical or emotional demands placed on an individual. When the adrenal glands cannot keep up with the demands of chronic stress, they become fatigued which can lead to numerous symptoms.
Exhausted adrenals have trouble regulating correct amounts of cortisol in the bloodstream. For example, the amount of cortisol in the bloodstream is typically higher in the morning to get you up, and lower at night to induce relaxation and sleep. In someone who has adrenal fatigue, the opposite could be observed causing anxiety and trouble sleeping at night, and issues waking up early in the morning.
While adrenal fatigue is common, most will not recognize the subtle symptoms staring them in the face. Common symptoms include:
- Sleep Disturbances
- Muscle or Loss
- Weight Gain
- Decreased Sex Drive/Libido
- Chronic Fatigue
- Hair Loss
- Hormone Imbalance
- Autoimmune Conditions
- Brain Fog
- Sugar Cravings
Today, it is so easy for the average individual to become consumed by chronic stressors and forget time to let go and relax. Our bodies are designed to handle short or temporary stress pretty efficiently. In the modern world, stressors are rarely temporary. We are typically dealing with stress that is constant and relentless. It is essential to deal with these issues correctly and incorporate stress-reducing nutrients and activities into everyday life to counter adrenal fatigue.
You may be familiar with your adrenal glands because of their signature role in producing the fight or flight response during high-pressure situations. Your adrenal glands are two thumb-sized organs that live just above the kidneys. While it is true they are responsible for the fight or flight response, they have many other functions that help you function throughout the day. In fact, the adrenal glands are responsible for the production of 50 hormones that regulate every bodily function.
One of the functions of adrenal glands is their responsibility to release and regulate cortisol levels in the blood. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is responsible for waking you up in the morning, increasing focus, regulating blood sugar, helping reduce inflammation, and even aids in the creation of memories. Cortisol is absolutely necessary for normal bodily function, but issues arise when levels are higher or lower than optimal.
Your adrenal glands react and release hormones in response to stress. When considering chronic stressors, it becomes clear just how easy adrenal fatigue can set in. If your adrenals are constantly being stimulated to produce additional hormones, you may experience high levels of adrenaline hormones such as cortisol at times you should be winding down, and low levels when threats are present.
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
There are many things that lead to adrenal fatigue and it is impossible to stay away from all things that have an impact on your adrenals. The best way to combat this condition is to take preventative steps to reduce the causes below, and takes proactive steps to improve habits that lead to healthy endocrine function. Listed below are the most common causes of adrenal fatigue
- Chronic stress
- Irregular or inadequate sleep schedule
- Major life events such as losing a loved one, changing jobs, or an injury.
- Environmental toxins (especially in food)
- Poor diet
- Chronic pain (emotional and physical)
- Consistent and prolonged negative thinking
Getting Over Adrenal Fatigue
Ok, so you think you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue but what do you do now? Luckily, making some simple changes is often all it takes to start feeling better. The top recommendations are listed below.
Those who participate in strenuous exercise know the extreme importance of adequate sleep for recovery. After breaking down and fatiguing muscles, the fastest route to recovery includes a high protein meal and sleep.
It is no surprise that one of the best ways to combat adrenal fatigue is sleep. Most suffering from the condition have irregular or insufficient sleeping schedules. Simply getting on a sleep schedule with at least 7 hours of sleep each night will be the most beneficial method to combat adrenal fatigue.
What you eat directly impacts your bodies ability to recover and renew fatigued muscles and organs. During stressful times, if you are not supplying your body with adequate nutrients to replenish depleted resources it is quite literally impossible to recover from stress.
In addition to supplying adequate nutrients to your body, eating fewer toxins and stimulants such as caffeine will reduce the load placed on your endocrine system. For optimal health, significantly reduce process foods, caffeine, sugars, and hydrogenated oils.
Adaptogens are a class of herbs known to aid in the rejuvenation of proper adrenal function. The name stems from the ability of the herbs to adapt to the body’s needs and stimulate or downregulate the production of hormones.
In short, adaptogen herbs can act as a crutch to help you get back on your feet if you are struggling with adrenal fatigue. Try some of these popular adaptogen herbs being used by others:
- Licorice root
Find a hobby
No matter how trivial it may sound, getting out and letting lose is one of the best ways to combat stress. If your adrenal fatigue is most likely coming from strenuous activity, then resort to a more relaxing hobby such as going for walks or golfing. If stress is getting the best of you, a workout routine can do wonders. Sometimes just taking your mind off of chronic stressors is enough to make a dramatic difference in your life. Below are some hobbies that have helped me combat stress in recent years.
- Establish a workout routine
- Walk each night
- Participate in sports
- Lose yourself in a good book
- Go for drive with no specific destination