Adrenal fatigue has become an increasingly common diagnosis in our fast-paced, always-on world, but most people have never heard of it before. This can make it hard to know what adrenal fatigue is and how to treat it.
Adrenal fatigue occurs when our adrenal glands aren’t able to produce enough cortisol and other hormones that help us manage stress, which can lead to several symptoms. Although the exact cause of adrenal fatigue isn’t well understood, there are lifestyle changes we can make to help address the symptoms naturally, including what nutrition to use to promote adrenal health.
Those who are prone to adrenal fatigue may experience chronic stress or high levels of stress that lead to a condition called adrenaline depletion. Adrenaline, which is produced by our adrenal glands and released into the bloodstream, helps keep us alert and energized when faced with stressors throughout the day. However, if these stressors - or high levels of physical or emotional strain- continue over time, it can take a toll on our health and eventually lead to an exhausted adrenal system.
The adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys, produce hormones that are required for our stress response. The most famous of these is cortisol, but the adrenals are also responsible for producing DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, adrenaline, and dopamine, which communicate with the rest of the body.
Adrenal fatigue is not a condition of the adrenal glands alone. Our stress response system is complex! Adrenal dysfunction is a problem that involves the whole system, which includes our brain.
Adrenal fatigue exhibit itself in three different phases. The first stage is triggered by a protracted stimulus to the adrenal glands, which can cause a spike in cortisol levels in the bloodstream. At this phase, the production of other critical hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen will be impaired. This eventually will throw into kilter the normal functions of our immune system and even our metabolic rate.
The second stage of adrenal fatigue is characterized by a decrease in cortisol and DHEA levels. We may start to experience symptoms like depression, insomnia, anxiety, weight loss, recurrent infections, and impaired memory to mention a few.
Phase three of this condition occurs once the adrenal glands have become completely incapable of producing cortisol. Ultimately, we will start suffering from chronic fatigue, which can make us unable to execute day-to-day activities and work-related tasks.
One of the biggest issues with adrenal fatigue is that when we start to experience the early warning signs of too much stress - feeling more tired than usual, rather than taking a step back and allowing our bodies to rest and heal, we find ways to push forward. Our deadlines, responsibilities, and schedules offer no give. So, when we start to feel overtired, we fuel ourselves with more coffee, more sugar, whatever gets us through the day. If we have trouble sleeping, we take something to get us through the night, or we simply stay up and operate on less sleep and more caffeine. Unfortunately, all of these coping mechanisms that we use to deal with fatigue and stress just add to the burden and worsen the problem.
To truly get our energy and our life back, we need to find ways to reduce stress and heal our adrenals. The good news is that it is possible and it is achievable! But there are no shortcuts.
We need to eat our first meal within an hour after we wake up in the morning so that we prevent our blood sugar levels to drop precipitously.
Say "NO" to processed foods. Consumption of processed foods adds stress to our body because our body has a hard time processing them. By removing them, we’re supporting our adrenal glands in returning to their natural state.
Say "YES" to fresh air. Fresh air is a great form of stress management and relief. Get out in nature. Take in slow deep breaths and relax.
Lack of sleep is a big stressor on the body. By not getting enough sleep, our cortisol levels will rise and our adrenal glands will work overtime. More sleep will reduce cortisol and stabilize our adrenal levels.
Do only low-impact exercises like walking, Pilates, gentle yoga, or stretching. High impact exercises put a strain on already fatigued adrenals, making it harder for the adrenals to repair themselves.
Caffeine is one of the biggest culprits of adrenal fatigue, as it causes our cortisol levels to rise, forcing the adrenals to pump out too much cortisol, leading to even worsening of adrenal fatigue.
Hydration is very important for the endocrine system. Without the right amount of water, the body can’t transport the necessary nutrients and hormones to the cells properly. To keep our adrenal glands healthy we need to make sure that we’re consuming about half of our body weight in ounces of filtered water per day.
It is extremely important to consume at least 6 servings of organic green leafy vegetables, as well as purple and orange veggies. They contain antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which contribute to the health of the adrenal glands.
Consider taking B vitamins, such as B5, because it can help balance hormones and reverse symptoms of adrenal fatigue in the body.
Magnesium supports the health of the adrenal glands, balances hormone production levels, and lessens the effects of adrenal fatigue.
Dipping our body in a relaxing Epsom salt bath a few times a week will relax us and decrease our stress levels, reducing the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to adrenal fatigue. Also, when we’re stressed, the first mineral our body burns through is magnesium - this is why so many people are magnesium deficient! We can replenish your magnesium levels by using at least one cup of Epsom salt per bath.
When we are suffering from adrenal fatigue our body burns through nutrients at an increased rate. Therefore, it is important to replace these nutrients by increasing our intake of certain vitamins and minerals.
A vital nutrient for many bodily functions, vitamin C is used by the body to produce cortisol and regulate hormones, so increasing our intake is beneficial for relieving symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Meanwhile, vitamin B plays a vital role in energy production, mood regulation, and adrenal function.
In terms of minerals, zinc regulates cortisol levels, while protecting cells from free radical damage caused by toxins as well as improving immune function. Magnesium also is extremely important for adrenal fatigue since the mineral fights inflammation, increases energy levels in the body, reduces stress, and improves sleep.
While we take vitamins orally, the pills are broken down in the stomach and digestive tract, and we only absorb about 30-50% of the dosage listed on the bottle. The intravenous (IV) method will deliver nutrients directly to the cells via the bloodstream, bypassing the above steps. The people who most need IV supplements are the ones who have the hardest time absorbing them. Malabsorption and other GI problems are very prevalent in our society today due to poor diets and the use of prescription medications.
The ability to administer nutrients by IV or will ensure a consistent and high dose of delivery to the cells.
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