What Is It & How to Fix Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue... have you heard of it? Are you wondering if you have it?
Adrenal fatigue happens when your adrenal glands get fatigued and stop functioning correctly to give you the energy you need. It’s funny because a lot of us naturally gesture toward our throat or thyroid when we talk about adrenals, but they are actually two small glands located on top of each kidney that produce hormones (including sex hormones and cortisol). So they’re in your back!
When the adrenals start malfunctioning, you start reaching for that extra cup of coffee, and another, and another, and...you get the idea. In the beginning stages you can be both wired and tired (a hair-pulling ping pong between not getting your racing brain to slow down and being so exhausted you don't know how to keep your eyes open). But then, you progress to simply crashed - which is where many of the women I see find themselves.
There comes a point where you are so tired, so crashed, that getting through the day feels like its going to take a miracle and you'd rather do anything besides get out of bed.
Knowing what causes adrenal fatigue can help you heal it - and avoid it all together! So even if you're not crashed yet, if you know you have stress going on right now this blog can help you from needing a health practitioner in the future!
It's well worth your time to keep your adrenals happy and healthy.
Integrative doctors and practitioners believe that an episode of acute stress or a period of prolonged, chronic stress can cause adrenal glands to become overloaded and ineffective. Note: A standard general practitioner will not give you this diagnosis, nor recognize it. Research and most doctors will term it Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis Stress. But holistic practitioners (including me : ) chose to use a more user friendly name with adrenal fatigue! This is a whole other blog topic :)
So.... how stressed are you?
Are any of the following true about you?
These are believed to contribute to adrenal fatigue by creating stress on your body:
Stressful experiences like death of loved one, divorce or surgery
Exposure to environmental toxins and pollution
Prolonged stress due to financial hardship, bad relationships or work environment, and other conditions that entail feelings of helplessness
Negative thinking and emotional trauma
Lack of sleep
Poor diet (including crash diets and inconsistent nutrition) and lack of exercise
Reliance on stimulants like caffeine or energy drinks
But can stress really cause extreme fatigue? Yes, it absolutely can. One study found that the chronic, long-term stress students had experienced when prepping for medical exams at the end of their educational careers had effected the students’ cortisol awakening response. By limiting this surge in cortisol that naturally occurs every morning when you wake up (which helps you feel alert), stress inhibits your ability to wake up fully, no matter how much sleep you get. You feel groggy and tired and life gets HARD.
There are three phases of adrenal fatigue.
3 Phases of Adrenal Fatigue
Where Are You? Thriving or Surviving
What Your Body Needs:
Nourishing Adrenal cocktail recipe
To reverse the damage and start healing the dysfunction, an important thing to do immediately is start making sure your adrenals have the nutrients they need to perform well. And that starts with the nourishing adrenal cocktail recipe.
This drink is simple (only 4 ingredients), but it’s the perfect blend of fat, protein, and carbs.
I've had clients experience great success at balancing their adrenals and regaining energy by incorporating this drink into their daily routine. It works because it provides the nutrients that you're frequently missing if you're stressed (stress makes your body use certain nutrients faster than you can eat them in food) and makes it easier for your adrenals to produce the hormones you need for balance and energy.
To reverse the damage and start healing the dysfunction, an important thing to do immediately is start making sure your adrenals have the nutrients they need to perform well.
Where to Start Basics: Adrenal Imbalance
Once you start incorporating the adrenal drink, here are some additional, important changes you can make to help your body find balance again. Don't tackle them all at once. Just read the list and find the one that resonates with you the most - then start there. After you've successfully incorporated that change into your lifestyle, make another change!
Basic Supplements for Adrenal Support
I recommend that clients take supplements to help their body heal because, again, the levels of stress you are under are burning through nutrients faster than you can eat them! If taking supplements, you must be working with a healthcare practitioner to monitor if you should keep taking them on a regular basis and in what amounts.
Maca for Adrenal Support
One additional superfood I recommend to help support your adrenals and energy levels is maca.
Maca is a root that is native Peru and grows at ridiculously high altitudes (11,000 feet and above!). It is an adaptogen, which means your body gets to use it the way it needs too. Adaptogens are most commonly known for helping your body deal with stress and feel its best. They either help your body calm down or rev it up, whichever it needs. It's cool that nature makes compounds that are so...adaptable! :)
Maca also gives your body nearly all essential amino acids and free fatty acids, significant levels of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C, and minerals iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium, a high concentration of protein (that is bioavailable), glucosinolates, and unique acids called macaenes and macamides, which seem to help balance hormones in both men and women.
Maca has a lot of possible benefits!
But in order to use maca safely you really need to know the quality of the maca you are taking. Read more about maca quality and why you should use it here.
Above all, if you're tired, or wired and tired, STOP accepting that it's "just the way it is." It's not. You were made to thrive and feel amazing. There are so many simple changes that can support us all on our journeys to feel our best.
Jennifer Klotz, MS, LDN, RDN