Could It Be Adrenal Fatigue?

by Simla on July 6, 2011

Author’s note and disclaimer:  This information is provided for educational purposes only. The recommendations included in this informational article are not to be construed as medical advice and do not take the place of medical advice. You should seek medical advice and continue to consult with your existing medical practitioners as needed.

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Feel like you wake up tired, stay tired, then dip even more around 3-4 pm, push through the evening, then gratefully fall into bed? (And maybe even have trouble falling or staying asleep despite all that tired-ness?)

Cringe at the thought of giving up your coffee, for fear that you’d fall flat on your face?

Are you a slave to sugar and/or salt?

How about that Starbucks run or candy dish in the office you can’t resist around 3-4pm?

All of the above are linked to the health of your adrenal glands.

What if it I told you you can reverse all of that and become the master of your energy relatively easily with just a few changes in your daily food and self-care habits?

Why Should I Care About My Adrenal Glands?

In short:  because they’re tiny but have a huge job to do; because they are easily depleted by our fast lifestyles; and, because with tired adrenals, you get a lot of things you probably don’t want, including:  fatigue; weight gain; inability to focus; cravings; weakened immune system; sleep disorders; hormonal and mood imbalances.

Translation:  you feel fat, tired, irritable, down, rushed and yet unproductive, and have a bunch of annoying things going on in your body.

Sound familiar?

Personally, it took me 20 years of workaholism and perfectionist/overachiever tendencies and years of Nescafe and daily double-to-quadruple venti lattes to come down with severe adrenal fatigue at the age of 32, resulting in the need to sleep up to 20 hours a day for several months. Today, I am the master of my steady levels of energy, which give me so much more fuel for the non-perfectionist/non-workaholic life I now choose to lead. It’s a nice place to be. I share that not to brag, but to show you it’s entirely possible.

And What Are The Adrenal Glands, Anyway?

Your adrenal glands look like little triangular peanuts, with one situated on top of each kidney. They serve many functions, including but certainly nowhere near limited to:

See? They deserve more respect than you’re likely giving them.

The Many Faces of Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue can run the gamut from very mild to life threatening. It’s safe to say that if you have a demanding, busy life and/or career, with some emotional stress thrown in, you have some level of adrenal fatigue.

Not sure? See if some of the common symptoms and effects of adrenal fatigue apply to you:

Adrenal fatigue can also contribute to autoimmune conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and hypothyroid conditions, and lead to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome if left untreated.

Why is Adrenal Fatigue Often Under-Diagnosed?

Conventional medicine has only two formal diagnosis codes for adrenal imbalances, one for each of the two extremes on the spectrum of adrenal function: (1) Cushing Syndrome, when you are exposed to or produce too much cortisol, the body’s natural stress hormone or when you are exposed to too much cortisone, the synthetic version of cortisol often prescribed as an anti-inflammatory medication; and, (2) Addison’s Disease, when adrenals can no longer produce enough of their own hormones. Both can be life threatening. Not what we’re talking about here.

The problem is that most people fall somewhere in between, in the large gray zone on the spectrum of adrenal function. There are no conventional medical tests or even diagnosis codes or treatments in conventional medicine for this type of “invisible” adrenal fatigue. Appropriate lab tests and treatment protocols do exist in alternative medicine, however.

For now, however, I’m going to share with you easy steps you can take through your personal food and self-care habits to begin reversing any signs of adrenal fatigue.

Top 5 Ways to Begin Reversing Adrenal Fatigue

  1. Sleep has no substitute. You must rest if you are going to help your adrenals get stronger. That means going to bed every night by 10 p.m. and getting an ideal 8 hours of sleep per night. Make this a priority and stick with it. Your adrenals need their beauty sleep! Increase your sleep in 15 minute increments until you are at your 8 hours.
  2. Eliminate refined sugars and processed carbs such as white breads and pastas, candies, and baked goods. Sugar and simple carbs (junk!) put major stress on the adrenals.
  3. Eat clean animal proteins including ghee (clarified butter) in moderation as well as organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, beans and gluten-free whole grains.
  4. Quit the coffee/caffeine habit and drink plenty of fresh filtered water every day.
  5. Do NOT skip meals and be sure to have a strong, balanced breakfast with at least 10-15 grams of protein, whole grains, and healthy fats within 90 minutes of waking up. Healthy fats include Omega 3 fats such as from avocados, nuts and seeds, and wild fish, as well as moderate amounts of organic saturated fats such as from clean animal foods and 1-2 teaspoons of ghee (clarified butter) daily.

Remember: love your adrenals and they’ll love you back.

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Simla Somturk Wickless, MBA, CHC, CNE, is the founder of Delicious Health LLC. Simla is a health, nutrition, and balanced living coach whose mission is to transform Busy Bodies into healthy, Balanced beings TM. Simla loves working with women entrepreneurs, professionals, and autoimmune clients to help them double their energy, tame their stress, get to their natural weight without dieting, and take back control of their health to live intensely pleasurable and impactful lives. Learn more  at www.EnjoyDeliciousHealth.com or www.DeliciousHealthBlog.com.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jacqueline September 8, 2011 at 7:46 pm

This article has a very good table of the “adrenal spectrum” from Cushings to Addison’s with lists of symptoms. Has been very helpful to me…scroll about halfway down: http://www.womentowomen.com/adrenalhealth/adrenalhormonedysfunction-symptoms.aspx

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