Could it be Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal FatigueAdrenal Fatigue

If you’re struggling with these symptoms, it could very well be adrenal fatigue…

  • That tired but wired feeling
  • Feeling tired through your day, no matter how much sleep you get; particularly morning and afternoon
  • A tendency to startle easily
  • Low threshold for stress
  • Depression, anxiety, mood swings and easily irritated
  • Excessive mood responses after eating carbohydrates such as pasta, breads and sugar
  • A craving for salt, fat and/or simple carbohydrates
  • Cravings for sugar, sweets, candy and/or chocolate
  • Intolerance to alcohol
  • Poor or disturbed sleep; if you wake regularly between 3am – 5am, this is generally a sign of adrenal exhaustion

along with:

  • Weight gain …is stress making you fat?
  • Excessive sweating or perspiration from little activity
  • Lower back pain and/or knee weakness or pain
  • Muscle tension and weakness.
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • A suppressed immune system
  • Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
  • Muscle twitches
  • Sensitivity to light, or difficulty seeing at night
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness, or light-headedness on standing up
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dry, unhealthy skin
  • Chronic infections
  • Premature aging
  • Lack of libido

How can you tell if you have adrenal fatigue?

Well, your day might look a little like this: After a full night’s sleep you wake up feeling tired and groggy, you maybe hit the snooze button a few too many times, then literally have to drag yourself out of bed feeling groggy and tired.

Then it’s on with your day. A caffeine fix is imperative …you literally can’t get going without it, and then more caffeine and sweet treats fuel you through your day. Too exhausted to even think about making the effort to get a healthy lunch, you rely on a sandwich; white bread of course, and then it’s 3pm and you really need that sugar fix.

It’s been a tough day hasn’t it, so what better way to pick your self up, than with a glass of wine (or two, or even three sometimes).

Then at night, you’re exhausted, but you can’t sleep (believe it or not, we actually need energy to sleep).

Sound familiar?

According to James Wilson, author of Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. ‘It is their job to enable your body to deal with stress from every possible source, ranging from injury and disease to work and relationship problems. Your resiliency, energy, endurance and your very life all depend on their proper functioning.’

So what are the adrenal glands …and where are they?

Both the adrenal glands and the thyroid are part of the endocrine system which is why when looking at adrenal health, it’s important to look at health of the thyroid too. The adrenal glands are the triangle-shaped endocrine glands that sit above the kidneys.

What do the adrenals do?

They secrete more than fifty hormones and are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response via output of cortisol and adrenaline which enable the fight or flight response.

They also have a number of other functions, which including helping to stabalise blood sugar levels, maintaining the immune system’s inflammatory response, converting food to energy, keeping blood pressure and volume normal by maintaining the balance of sodium, potassium and water in the body, and controlling blood flow to the muscles and brain.

Hmmm kind of important aren’t they …so all the more reason to be kind to them.

What upsets them?

  • Overwork; physical and/or mental, emotional
  • Negative emotions like anger, fear, anxiety, guilt and/or depression
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Too much exercise
  • Working the night shift or going to bed really late (light-cycle disruption)
  • A trauma to the body, eg, surgery, trauma or injury
  • Chronic inflammation, infection, illness or pain
  • Severe allergies
  • Toxin overload; chemicals, cigarette smoke, pesticides, airborne toxins, household cleaners, over-the-counter and prescription medications

If this is the case, it’s likely that cortisol levels are too high, and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) too low (both are produced by the adrenal glands). DHEA production is optimal in our twenties, and we produce less of it as we get older, hence why adrenal fatigue is often associated more strongly with middle age and beyond. Stress actually reduces production of DHEA, which is why it’s so important to get to the root cause(s) of what’s stressing us out too.

Natural Ways to Support the Adrenals…

Make sleep a priority, preferably being in bed by 10pm (Grandma was right, every hour before midnight is worth two after midnight!). Rest is essential to help your adrenals get stronger and they definitely need their beauty sleep!

Food is powerful too and never underestimate how much our diets affect our stress levels …and our ability to cope with stress. Our adrenals help balance blood sugar levels, so food and drinks that contain sugar, including artificial sugars like aspartame, caffeine, alcohol are all stimulants which cause the adrenal glands to overwork.

  • Learn how to relax.
  • Slow down.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Take a walk.
  • Include a meditative practice into your day.
  • Lower your expectations of what you can achieve in a day.
  • Chew your food.
  • Laugh more.
  • Spend time in the garden or a park; nature has a way of putting things in perspective.
  • Don’t check your email before 9.30am in the morning.
  • Stop checking your email every five minutes.
  • Try just checking it once an hour (if it’s important they’ll call!).
  • Avoid obvious pressure(s).
  • Take a really deep breath every 15 minutes.
  • Stop worrying about things that haven’t happened yet.
  • Spend time with a pet (preferably a gorgeous one like Munch) …even if means taking a friend’s dog for a walk.
  • Go have an aromatherapy massage.
  • Add something to this list. You get to pick.
  • Request a test re thyroid function from your doctor

If you’d like some support to upgrade and clean up your diet to support your adrenals, and/or your wider endocrine system, please get in touch.

Nutritional Therapy, Kensington LondonAbout The AuthorSarah Lantry runs Attitude to Food, a Nutrition and Health Consultancy in Kensington, London. Sarah is a qualified Nutritional Therapist with clients across London and the Home Counties.

Find out more about Sarah’s work by visiting her GoToSee profile page here


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