With holistic health practitioners and an increasing body of Medical Doctors leading the way, more and more health care professionals are acknowledging the existence of adrenal fatigue and the subsequent affects it has on our overall health.
It’s important to remember that the adrenal glands, though less than the size of a walnut, produce some of the most vital compounds in our body. One of the most important compounds produced are the hormones our body uses to adapt to stress. However, when the adrenal glands are over worked or over stressed adrenal fatigue can set in, which causes several consequences for our overall health.
Unfortunately, there are no tests that diagnose adrenal fatigue. Diagnosis is made by observing these symptoms:
(1) Feeling tired all the time- You wake up tired, even after what should have been a good night’s sleep. You nap, but never feel like you’ve had enough.
(2) Low libido.
(3) Craving for salty and sweet foods
(4) Dizzy or light headed while getting up quickly from sitting or prone positions.
(5) Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms.
(6) Mood swings that were uncharacteristic earlier in life.
(7) Often spacey, or foggy thinking, even memory loss.
(8) Hormonal imbalance and/or depletion.
(9) Constant muscular tension leading to hypertension and high blood pressure. Inability to relax completely.
(10) Autoimmune issues: constantly catching colds or allergic reactions.
Belly fat: a common sign of adrenal fatigue
Adrenal imbalance causes a number of issues, including an expanded waistline. The science behind it is quite interesting. Normally when we feel begin to feel hungry, our blood sugar drops and the brain sends a message to the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol activates glucose, fats, and amino acids to keep our body fueled with energy until we eat. Cortisol maintains blood sugar levels, and insulin helps our cells absorb glucose. When we have long-term stress, both insulin and cortisol remain elevated in the blood, and the extra glucose is stored as fat–mostly in the abdomen.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Scientists have discovered that fat cells actually have special receptors for the stress hormone cortisol, and there are more of these receptors in our abdominal fat cells than anywhere else in our bodies! In addition, scientists have shown that belly fat is actually an active tissue, acting as an endocrine organ that responds to the stress response by actually welcoming more fat to be deposited! This is an ongoing cycle until we take steps to correct this adrenal imbalance. How do we do that?
Eat well for healthy adrenal glands
What you eat matters. Although it sounds ironic, if you want your body to believe that it is not in danger of starving to death, you need to eat healthy food at regular intervals. Since cortisol helps regulate blood sugar, keeping glucose levels balanced will take some of the stress off the adrenal glands. Three nutritious meals and two healthy snacks spread out across the day will keep our adrenal glands steady.
When you eat matters. Our natural circadian rhythms can help us know when our bodies need nourishment and fuel. Cortisol’s cycle complements our body’s own rhythms, although is highest in the morning and declines gradually throughout the day. When we eat we elevate our cortisol, so it’s ideal to consume larger meals earlier in the day, which also helps our body prepare itself for restful sleep at night.
Have healthy foods on hand. It may be easy to reach for sweets and caffeine for quick energy, but these actually backfire on us, dropping our blood sugar levels rapidly. Reaching for micronutrient-rich foods, such as lean protein, healthy fats, fresh fruits and vegetables, garlic, and ginger will more adequately support adrenal functioning.
Supplement your daily diet. Adrenal expert, Shawn Talbott, PhD, says, “When it comes to dietary supplementation for stress adaptation and cortisol control, the first line of defense appears in the form of a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral supplement.” The benefits of a daily multivitamin enhance many of the functions in our body.
Rebuilding your adrenals
You can feel well again, but it does take time.
-Eat organic, healthy natural foods.
-Sleep at least 8 hours a day.
-Eat Regular Meals
-Avoid junk and processed foods
-Eat A Lot of Vegetables Daily
-Take Calcium and Magnesium Supplements
-Adding Sea Salt to your Diet
-Take B-Complex Supplements
-Take Licorice Root Extract
Pace yourself to heal
Our fast-paced world is never unplugged. We rarely have time to disconnect from technology, our cell phones, the Internet, email, and even television. And our adrenal glands notice! Instead of being tired, wired, and overeating, consider slowing down and restoring balance to your adrenal glands, and your life. You may think that by moving fast you will lose weight, but in fact, when stress levels are high and our adrenals are working overtime, we will stay in a perpetuating cycle of adding pounds. Here’s how we can learn to pace ourselves.
Sleep. Many of my patients complain of being tired all day then having trouble sleeping at night. They are in an upside down circadian rhythm, which affects cortisol levels, causing irregular sleep patterns. You can correct these by eating less food late in the day, turning off all technology including television, by 8 p.m., and by trying to be in bed and asleep by 10 p.m. The goal is to have at least eight hours of sleep, so our bodies can rest and regulate our hormonal cycles.
Exercise. Our adrenals respond to stress, even if we think it is positive. Exercise is positive, and can help us reduce stress, but only if it does not make us feel tired. When we are exhausted, our adrenals are already working hard, and exercise can put added strain on them. The goal is to keep your heart rate under 90 beats per minute when working out. If you don’t regularly exercise, walking 15 minutes once or twice a day after meals, outside in fresh air, makes our adrenal glands, and our mind and body, very happy.