As a Holistic Nutritionist, I'm getting asked about a rather new phenomenon called adrenal fatigue more and more frequently. It doesn't surprise me one bit.
It seems to me that pretty much everyone is stressed out these days. Don’t get me wrong, a little stress is okay and we need it – it's just when it starts to creep in and take over our life that it one ends up with adrenal fatigue and you really start to suffer, along with the people around you.
Cortisol is one of the main hormones that the adrenals produce. The adrenals also produce other hormones such as DHEA, androstenedione, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
Cortisol gets us up in the morning and keeps us sharp and able to handle our day. Problems begin to occur when we expose ourselves to chronic stress over long periods of time. Do any of the following describe you?
When we are in this chronically stressed state, it is only a matter of time before we start to experience the negative health effects of this. For example, I know when I am on the limit because I can’t sleep, my moods change, I get night sweats, I get irritable and I don’t want to talk to anyone!
These are the early warning signals that you badly need take a 'chill pill' and begin to support your adrenals with rest, nutrition and proper supplementation.
The adrenals are the stress glands (they sit right above our kidneys) and work with all the other glands, especially the thyroid. Because they work together as a team, both need to be in good working order to maintain homeostasis (balance) within the body. Unfortunately, stress is the culprit for many disorders because it can block many other processes from happening in the body.
This is because during stress the body goes into “fight or flight” and enter our natural preservation mode storing fat, shutting down any other non-life threatening processes in order to survive. Over time, this nonstop state of “fight or flight” leads to a mountain of health problems.
So how do you know, beyond your intuition, if you have significant adrenal stress? I've compiled a comprehensive list below. You may experience some or all of these if you have adrenal fatigue. Use it as a starting point but know that you may have other symptoms not included in this list.
When you are in a chronically stressed state, a cascade of hormonal changes begin to take place which often result in thyroid and estrogen dominance issues. These in turn lead to additional health problems. It really is like a snowball rolling downhill. Unfortunately, your health is the snow ball.
Living in a state of chronically elevated cortisol levels is a recipe for disaster. Research now correlates chronically elevated cortisol levels with the following:
If you're living with adrenal fatigue, the last thing you likely want is something else to do or worry about. Ignoring the issue will only lead to greater health challenges and a rapidly declining standard of living. You must begin to deal with your adrenal fatigue. So let's get started.
Health starts with nutrition. Treating adrenal fatigue is no different. Here is what I recommend:
Increase your intake of vitamin C, magnesium, and pantothenic acid during times of stress.
Food sources of magnesium include: brown rice, beans, nuts, seeds, and sea vegetables such as kelp (the highest source).
Food sources of pantothenic acid include: brewer's yeast, organ meats, legumes, and eggs.
When your adrenal glands are fatigued, cortisol levels drop lower than normal. This makes it more difficult for your body to maintain normal blood sugar levels. As a result, people with adrenal fatigue tend to also have low blood sugar. If you have adrenal fatigue, when you eat is almost as important as what you eat. Low blood sugar is in itself a stressful situation that further drains your adrenals. Therefore, avoid letting your blood sugar levels drop too low by eating natural, high-quality food at frequent, regular intervals. This will make a difference to your adrenal health as well as to your energy level
Bee Pollen - take 1 tablespoon 1-3 x per day
• Royal Jelly - take 1000 mg 2-3 x per day
• Maca - a Peruvian root that is very effective at supporting and healing the adrenals. I recommend Ultimate Maca by Brad King. Maca is an adaptogen. According to Brad, an adaptogen is a substance which brings the body to a heightened state of resistance to disease through physiological and emotional health. Adaptogens help increase the body’s natural resistance to environmental stresses. Maca is one of the most powerful adaptogen plants known.
AdrenaSmart by Lorna Vanderheaghe. I highly recommend Adrenasmart along with Bee Pollen and Royal Jelly during adrenal recovery and during stressful times. Adrenal recovery can take anywhere from 3 months to over 1 year, so be patient. Take Adrenasmart in the afternoon with a protein snack. 2-4 caps per day. Start with 1 or 2, and see how you feel because it is very potent. A 150 lb adult can start with 2 caps per day.
Some people find that they have symptoms of low thyroid as well as adrenal fatigue. This is very common because the two go hand in hand. High cortisol (from the adrenals) can block thyroid hormone and result in symptoms of low thyroid (cold hands and feet, depression, no energy, hair falling out, night sweats, infertility and more) In this case, use the product ThyroSmart.
Sleepsmart by Lorna Vanderhaeghe - I recommend Sleepsmart during the first stage of adrenal recovery. Sleep is most affected by fatigued adrenals; specifically the lack of falling sleep or disrupted sleep. Sleep will also help heal the adrenals. So the first stage is to give some extra (non-habit forming) natural sleep aids such as the herbs and nutrients found in Sleepsmart. Take 1 per day before bed.
Adrenal fatigue is a serious issue facing thousands and thousands of people today. Unfortunately, I've met people with complete adrenal failure, a point they're reached after many years of not supporting their adrenal glands with proper nutrition, supplementation and rest. It was not a pretty picture!
Don't forget to do some stress relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, going for a walk in nature, read a book, enjoy a vacation, dance, play with your children, laugh, go to the spa...you get the idea. A positive change in attitude and lifestyle is key to a long healthy life, and healing the adrenals.
So do yourself a favor and take some of my recommendations to heart - your adrenal glands will thank you.