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.
How Stress Effects Us
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.
It gets us up in the morning and keeps us sharp and able to handle our day. The problem is when we have too much stress from things like traffic, road rage, deadlines, kids, lack of sleep, over-exercise, overwork, financial worries, relationship stress, family stress, the go-go-go lifestyle, perfection/high expectations and the type “A” personality, and doing too much or just not saying “no."
When we are in this state, it is only a matter of time before we start to experience the 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!
Luckily these are the early warning signals to take a “chill pill.” (these are the times that you need to follow some of the suggestions below including dosing up on your Bee Pollen and Royal Jelly)
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 the body goes into “fight or flight” and the body will go into natural preservation mode storing fat, shutting down any other non-life threatening processes in order to survive. But over time, this non stop state of “fight or flight” leads to uncomfortable symptoms, lowers quality of life, disease, and lack of zest for life.
For example, in this state:
Symptoms of Adrenal Stress
Symptoms of overworked and under active adrenals can include:
Research now correlates chronic elevated cortisol levels with: memory problems, breast cancer, poor sleep quality, depression, infertility, blood sugar problems, decreased DHEA, fat accumulation, compromised immune function, bone loss and heart disease, Alzheimer’s, inflammatory conditions, osteoporosis.
Stress compromises hormone production leading to problems such as: PMS, menopause symptoms, decreased libido, infertility and exhausts the adrenals.
What to Eat to Treat Adrenal Fatigue
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
Super Food Supplements That Fix Adrenal Fatigue
• 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.
Supplements That Support the Adrenals and Handle Stress
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.
Vitamins and Minerals That Support the Adrenals
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.