Recently I have seen an increase in the number of people in clinic showing signs of Adrenal Fatigue. It appears to me that this 20th Century condition has come about due to so many people trying to fit so much into their day and being perfect at everything they do. From being the perfect mother/father, a successful employee or employer whilst maintaining a busy social life. There is a new saying 'FOMO' Afraid Of Missing Out, having to say yes to everything, in case you miss our or are not invited again. If that was not enough we seem to spend our spare time driving the kids to various activities that they have chosen or as parents we feel they should be doing or we all seem to be frantically checking our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts (I am sure there are more) for the latest gossip or to see how wonderful everyone's life seems to be! There is a another saying that is not so new "burning the candle at both ends" and how true that is today. What happened to having some time to yourself every now and then and living in the moment. I feel exhausted just thinking about fitting it all in...
Cortisol is a steroid hormone made by the adrenal glands and is produced in response to any stressful 'flight-or-flight' situation. Cortisol is both good and bad. It is needed to help regulate blood pressure and cardiovascular function, as well as to regulate the body's use of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. In short cortisol is a good guy, but if levels circulating in our body remain, too high, then cortisol can damage tissues and organs and in the long run causes the adrenal glands to get extremely tired. But it is not just stress from our environment that can cause the adrenals to work hard. The way we eat also affects our cortisol levels, for example lots of workers do not even have time to have a proper lunch break or make their own lunch so it is very easy for them to just pop out and grab a 'Meal Deal' and eat it at your desk or not eat at all so that they can leave work on time. This unhealthy eating can put the adrenal glands under pressure due to blood sugar levels crashing, causing the body to have a stress response. As you can begin to see, being stressed, constantly busy and not eating the right foods or at the right times can cause the adrenals to work overtime, in the long term leading to Adrenal Fatigue.
fAdrenal Fatigue is a stress -related condition that occurs when your adrenal glands, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland are functioning below their optimal level. One of the most common symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue is strangely enough fatigue. But there are other symptoms that you may experience.
Adrenal Fatigue leads to lower levels of hormones and neurotransmitters, changes that can affect every single part of your body. Here are some signs and symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:-
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- High levels of fatigue each day
- Inability to handle stress
- Cravings for salty foods
- Higher energy levels in the evenings
- Overuse of stimulants like caffeine
- A weak immune system
Note: If you wake up regularly between 3am and 5am, this is a sign that your adrenal glands are struggling.
There are many things you can do to reduce the negative affects of stress on your body, which can help you stay healthier.
Foods to avoid:
- Alcohol, caffeine, sugar and artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, which are all stimulates that cause the adrenal glands to overwork.
- Reduce refined and processed foods
- Don't eat in a rush
Foods to include:
- Balancing your blood sugars is one of the most important areas to work on - try and eat every 3 hours and always include some protein with every meal.
- Liquorice tea helps to support the adrenal function
- Eat oily fish to increase levels of Omega 3 to help reduce inflammation caused by stress hormones
Of course there are lots of things you can do to try and decrease the amount of stress in your life from time management, yoga, mediation and even just taking time out to walk in the park. There are also lots of herbs that can support the adrenals and these can be discussed during a consultation and recommended if needed.
High stress levels can affect many body systems for example, we are more prone to osteoporosis if the adrenal glands are overworking, because too high levels of cortisol will prevent the proper build up of bone. The reproductive system is especially susceptible to stress, and can cause your periods to stop or to become irregular (Dr Marilyn Glenville).
There is a test we do in clinic that measures cortisol levels called 'Adrenal Stress Test', it is a saliva test and can be carried out at home. It will show if your adrenals are struggling and out of balance. These can be ordered through B Nutrition.
As you can see, stress and the adrenals are very closely connected and can cause problems throughout the body. However, Adrenal Fatigue can be treated and over time with the right nutrition and lifestyle changes your adrenals will function at a better level and your energy levels will improve. For more nutritional advice on Adrenal Fatigue or any other condition please click here to send us an email to make an appointment.
Wishing you good health