Tired, washed out and exhausted, even when you had enough sleep? Feeling tired, weak and incapable of doing things? Could you be suffering from adrenal fatigue?
What are the adrenals?
The adrenals are like two caps on top of the kidneys which play a key role in the endocrine (hormonal) system. They produce more than 50 different hormones, such as adrenaline (epinephrine), noradrenaline, cortisol, progesterone and testosterone. These hormones are involved in energy production, water-salt balance, blood pressure, metabolism, heartbeat, liver function, the immune system, blood sugar level, fat storage and dealing with stress.
When we’re under stress, the adrenals should react by releasing adrenalin and noradrenalin to cope with physical danger, typically called the ‘fight or flight’-reaction. Whenever the ‘danger’ is gone, the adrenals make sure that the hormone levels are back to normal. Cortisol is produced in this situation and the release of DHEA is suppose to ‘un-stress’ the body.
And, who isn't faced with stress these days? Work, family, pressure from friends and our eating pattern put us under constant stress. This stress on the mental, physical and emotional levels, ensure that the adrenals are constantly overloaded with the amount of hormones they have to release. When these processes are prolonged, the adrenals can become exhausted; adrenal fatigue. We start to feel tired and are not able to cope with whatever comes our way any more.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue
Because the adrenals play such an important role in the endocrine system, the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are expressed in various forms. This long list makes it more than clear that the right balance of hormones is crucial to us.
- Appetite for salt
- Sleeping disorders
- Unstable blood sugar
- Excessive thirst and urge to urinate
- Varicose veins
- Bad digestion
- Heart disorders
- Behavioral and memory problems
Some other symptoms are
- Mood swings
- Low energy level
- Painful bodyparts
- Low bloodpressure
- Anxiety attacks
- And many more…
What to do if you're suffering from adrenal fatigue?
Change your nutrition! When you have adrenal fatigue, the time you eat becomes very important. You need to keep the cortisol in your blood at the right level. If you don’t have the right amount of cortisol in your blood, it’s hard for your body to keep the right glucose levels. The result of this could be hypoglycemia.
People with exhausted adrenals often tend to choose the foods and drinks which give them energy at the expense of the adrenals, such as fast food, soft drinks and coffee. The fats in fast food are the wrong fats, the carbohydrates are often refined and the nutritional value is low. This way they withhold their body of the nutrients it needs more than ever, to function and recover. And this will make the adrenals more and more exhausted.
Eat immediately when you get up, to refuel your body. This is not the time for intermitant fasting.
Eat a strict Paleo diet, with enough protein, healthy fats, unrefined carbohydrates, vegetables and enough fruits. You may choose to experiment with increasing your carbohydrate intake in the form of things like pumpkin and sweet potato.
Stress is a huge factor, with sufferers of adrenal fatigue simply truing to do it all. When trying to heal, it’s really important to reduce stress, and take time out to meditate and relax.
Have you suffered from adrenal fatigue? What helped you to heal? Please share your stories and tips in the comments below, and help someone out!