Chances are, if you’re on this page, you’re experiencing the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue and you’re wondering why, what it means, and how to heal from it.
Whether this is a new finding for you, or you’re continually looking for more information, you’re not alone. Its estimated that 80% of North Americans suffer from some form of Adrenal Fatigue, with the majority of it caused by our schedules, too much stress, lack of sleep and lack of overall wellness.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome is when your adrenal glands (two small thumb-sized organs just above your kidneys that produce over 50 hormones) stop functioning properly. Your adrenal glands are what provides your body with adrenaline and are key to how to deal with stresses in life. They are essentially built for the ‘fight or flight’ response in your body, when the adrenaline triggers your brain, heart and muscles to be ready for action. Adrenaline, when pushed to your body then dampens non-essential functions like digestion and the immune system – parts not needed for immediate ‘action’.
When your body is run down and in a consistent state of stress, your adrenal glands can’t keep up and tend to fire more often which leads to sleepless nights, lack of energy during the day and essentially become ineffective. Normally, your body releases a larger amount of adrenaline when you wake up every day, giving you the energy in the morning, and then continues enough throughout the day to keep you awake and alert. When your body is too stressed, it fires more often with less, giving you a lack of energy, sleepless nights and an overall ‘blah’ feeling.
The ‘over-stressed’ issues that can cause adrenal fatigue include the following:
- loss or injury of a loved one
- exposure to environmental toxins
- extended stress due to a harsh work environment, financial issues, relationship problems, etc
- poor diet over time
- consistent lack of sleep
What are the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?
When the adrenal glands don’t function properly, it can effect your entire body. From a lack of energy throughout the day to emotional or mental depression, the symptoms are found everywhere. Here are some of the basic symptoms that you could experience:
- fatigue immediately after waking up, even after a full night’s sleep
- decreased sex drive
- muscle weakness
- joint pain and inflammation
- enhanced allergies
- depression and irritability
- sleeplessness, or trouble falling asleep
- cravings for sugar and salt, especially at the end of the day
- a need for caffeine throughout the day, just to function
- weight gain
- inability to handle stress
- weakened immune system – you find you get sick easier
- poor circulation
- dryness even when drinking enough water
- dark circles under eyes
How Gluten Intolerance/Sensitivity Affects Adrenal Fatigue
For those of us with a gluten intolerance, it has been shown in research that we’re more susceptible to adrenal fatigue (1). It makes sense since when you have gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease, the body reacts badly to triggers (like wheat or other foods), and would have a harder time dealing with physical or mental stress. Since your body is under more stress and your immune system may not be up to par, getting adrenal fatigue is a lot more common.
This is especially true if you get ‘glutened’ when you’re gluten intolerant, as your body goes into emergency mode and if you can’t calm it or heal it fast enough, there is a higher chance of some form of adrenal fatigue.
How to recover from Adrenal Fatigue
Recovering from adrenal fatigue isn’t an easy thing. Since it could have been affecting you for months before it got bad enough that you notice it, it could take a long time to heal from it. Overall treatment includes removing any stresses from your life, eliminating any toxins – food and environmental, and eating a healthy adrenal-friendly diet.
Recovery could take from a few months to a couple years, but with the proper diet and de-stressing, you should see results within a few weeks.
Here’s some suggestions to heal from adrenal fatigue:
One key to stopping the adrenal malfunction is to clear your life of stresses. This includes mental and physical. Pay attention to your body and see what stresses it, and remove them or find a way to ease them. This could include:
1. Get a full night’s sleep – aim for at least 8-10 hours, go to bed early if you need to get up early. Your body needs to heal and sleep is essential for that.
2. Rest when you’re tired. If you have a day off, take a nap. If you have a few free hours, lay down and read. Do things that let you rest throughout the day.
3. Do something fun every day – anything that makes you happy or lets you laugh.
4. Minimize work stress – say no to extra jobs, separate yourself from those at your office that create stress, or even get a new job that you love.
5. Eat on a regular schedule – if you skip meals your body becomes stressed.
6. Take time for yourself – find a hobby you enjoy, read a book, find a park on a warm day and just relax.
7. Exercise – even minor exercising can help – go for walks, take a class, etc.
8. Remove the negative people around you – if people are not positive, then they can hurt, so its worth to remove them from your life.
9. Try yoga, tai chi, meditation or breathing exercises, even just on your own in your home.
2. Modify Your Diet
As with many of issues your body may face, a healthy diet is essential to fixing it, and adrenal fatigue is no different. Eliminating foods that stress your body and including more nutrient-rich foods will help heal from adrenal fatigue.
1. Eliminate caffeine – Your body needs to rest and fix itself, and overstimulating it with caffeine doesn’t help. Fully remove coffee and soda from your diet for at least 2 weeks – replace with healthy smoothies or energy-boosting green superfood drinks like my go-to drink powder: Amazing Grass.
2. Stop using processed sugars – Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup stimulate your body and produce an overall negative impact to a healing body. Stay away from processed sugars and foods containing them (which unfortunately includes most cereals, candy, breads, condiments, etc).
3. Stay away from processed foods – Almost anything that is preserved for shelf-life contains oils, preservatives, sugars and fillers that hinder your body’s health. Stick with fresh produce, healthy meats and foods that don’t have a full page list of ingredients on the box.
4. Focus on fresh and healthy – Foods with high amounts of nutrients and good fats are what will help you heal. Fruits, veggies, lean meats and superfoods like avocados, coconut oil, brussel sprouts, seaweed and Himalayan Sea Salt.
Along with a healthy diet, your body needs help to heal. While eating healthy is a great start, sometimes you just need more and these supplements will help:
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3
- Licorice Root
It won’t be instant, but you CAN heal adrenal fatigue and reclaim your energy and life! Keep in mind what you’ve just read and start your path to healing now.
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