By Maddie Santiago
We all live busy lives, whether it’s working, studying, chasing the kids around, or any combination! Feeling wiped out is a normal reaction to a full schedule. Relaxing and getting a good night’s sleep should help you recover. However, if you feel like you just can’t seem to stop feeling exhausted, no matter how hard you relax, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue.
What are Adrenals?
Adrenals are an important part of the body! They are glands located above the kidneys. They produce steroid and catecholamine (adrenaline) hormones otherwise known as the body’s 3 main stress hormones: cortisol, DHEA and epinephrine. Although we automatically think that stress is bad, not all of it is. Some stress is important for the body to function and react to different situations.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is exactly what it sounds like; the adrenals are tired and overworked. When this happens, the adrenals aren’t producing hormones adequately. This may be caused by any number of stressors that may be emotional or mental, biochemical, or physical. Adrenal fatigue causes an imbalance of hormones. Common symptoms include: excessive fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, very high or low blood sugar levels, chronic inflammation, insomnia, sugar cravings, headaches, intolerance to alcohol, and food sensitivities or allergies
Some symptoms or causes of adrenal fatigue can trigger other symptoms. Because of this, people may have a whole host of different symptoms due to one underlying cause. Adrenal fatigue can be dangerous as it can be the cause OR effect of more serious conditions. When adrenal glands aren’t functioning properly, your immune system can weaken as well. This may CAUSE you to be more susceptible to other conditions, like autoimmune diseases. On the other hand, adrenal fatigue can be the EFFECT of another more serious condition that triggers the adrenal glands to over produce. A common example of this is when someone has poorly managed their pre-existing diabetes and then develops adrenal fatigue because of it.
What should I do about it?
The adrenals help our bodies manage stress, but you can lend them a hand. We can’t do much about the presence of negative external stressors, but we can try to change the way we react to it and try to take the time to relax. Yoga, meditation, relaxing, or coloring are some great ways to destress and relax. Remember that not all stress is bad; our bodies need stress, but excessive amounts can be harmful.
Some stress is inevitable, but we can control our diets, which can be a factor in biochemical stress. A good healthy diet can minimize biochemical stressors and support the adrenals. If you’d like your diet to help your adrenals, focus on eating high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and organic whole foods. Avoid excessive sugars, grains, caffeine, alcohol. This is very similar to the Paleo diet, which you can learn about here. As for supplements, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-Complex, herbal adaptogens, and adrenal gland extract may be able to help.
While diet may not be the cause of your adrenal fatigue, it’s definitely a good place to start. Food is medicine! Try and learn about any possible food sensitivities you may have. A helpful way to do this is to keep a log of what you eat and how you feel every day, so you can spot any correlations.
Listen to what your body is trying to tell you, make sure that adrenal fatigue doesn’t cause other more serious problems and make sure to check if it’s the effect of a serious problem. If you feel like you just can’t stop being tired, or have experienced any of the symptoms above, keep up with a healthy diet and find ways to relax. If you expect adrenal fatigue, have a talk with your doctor!