Adrenal fatigue syndrome is a mild form of adrenal insufficiency caused by chronic stress. The theory is that your adrenal glands are unable to keep pace with the demands of perpetual fight-or-flight arousal. As a result, they can’t produce quite enough of the hormones you need to feel good. According to this theory, blood tests aren’t sensitive enough to detect such a small decline in adrenal function – but your body is.
Can you say yes to many of these questions on a regular basis?
Do you have difficulty awakening from sleep in the morning, often hitting the snooze button multiple times?
Do you need coffee to get going in the morning? and to keep going throughout the day?
Have you recently gained weight, especially around the middle?
Do you have more difficulty dealing with stress and deadline pressure than you used to?
Do you have a lack of interest in sex?
Do you frequently feel lightheaded upon standing quickly?
Do you struggle with poor memory or “brain fog”?
Do you feel like you get every cold and flu bug that is going around, that your immune system is shot?
Do you feel especially tired in the mornings and again in the afternoons between 3-5 pm?
Do you feel the need to snack or eat frequently to maintain a normal blood sugar level?
Do you crave salty foods?
Do you feel extremely tired between 7-10 pm but get a second wind if you stay up later?
If you are female do you struggle with PMS: heavy bleeding, moodiness, fatigue during menstrual cycle? If you are male, do you feel like your stamina, energy and ability to maintain muscle are decreased?
Do you frequently have pain in the upper back or neck with no apparent reason?
Do you notice improvement of symptoms when stress levels are lower, such as during a vacation or time away from work?
If your answer to several of the above questions is yes, you may be headed toward adrenal fatigue, if you aren’t already there. If you want to consider some lifestyle changes, treatment for adrenal fatigue involves reducing stress on your body and your mind, avoiding negative thinking, and replenishing your body with healthy food and positive thoughts.
- Adrenal Fatigue Diet
In every case of adrenal recovery, diet is a huge factor. There are a number of foods that support adrenal function. They help replenish your adrenal energy so your system can come back to full health. Removing hard-to-digest foods will also reduce the load on your adrenal system.
* Caffeine can interfere with your sleep cycle and make it hard for your adrenals to recover. If you must drink coffee or a caffeinated beverage, then have a limited amount in the morning before noon.
* Sugar and sweeteners include high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. The adrenal glands are put under a lot of stress by rapidly shifting blood sugar levels. One of their functions is to keep our energy steady and stress levels down. The endless need for the adrenals to ‘help out’ with the fluctuating blood sugar levels taxes the adrenal system.
* Processed foods generally contain ingredients that the body does not recognize as food. The body uses a lot of energy trying to unsuccessfully digest them.
* Hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils like soybean, canola and corn oil are highly inflammatory and can lead to adrenal inflammation. Use only good fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, organic butter or ghee.
Next, you want to add nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest and have healing qualities. Some of the top superfoods for adrenal health include:
- Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.)
- Fatty fish (e.g., wild-caught salmon)
- Chicken and turkey
- Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
- Seeds, such as pumpkin, chia and flax
- Kelp and seaweed
- Sea salt (in moderation!)
- If you are already experiencing adrenal fatigue, taking some supplements may help. As you know, I am a big fan of getting your nutrients from real food. However, sometimes you need some extra help.
Thus, certain adrenal-boosting nutrients may be needed to help improve your adrenal function, such as:
- Holy basil
- Fish oil (EPA/DHA), cod liver oil is also a good source of Vit. D3
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3
Taking these supplements in their whole-food form could greatly improve your symptoms of adrenal insufficiency.
- Adrenal Fatigue Stress Reduction
The last and most important key to restoring your adrenal function is to notice what your stressers are and to avoid or minimize them as much as possible.Pay attention to your body! It will let you know when you want to consider doing life differently.
- Rest as much as possible; stop when you feel tired.
- Sleep 8-10 hours a night.
- Avoid staying up late and stay on a regular sleep cycle – ideally, be in bed before 10 p.m.
- Laugh and do something fun every day.
- Minimize work and relational stress.
- Eat on a regular food cycle, and eliminate caffeine and sugar.
- Exercise (moderate exercise and walking can help; move even if you only have 10 minutes).
- Associate with positive rather than negative people and engage in positive rather than negative self-talk.
- Take time for yourself (do something relaxing).
- Seek counsel or support for any traumatic experiences.
See my past newsletters on stress management for more tips.