Let’s talk about adrenal fatigue. This is a true epidemic in our society due to the pressure to succeed in all categories of life and to look great while doing so! We work hard, play hard and spend more hours in our day working than we do relax and enjoying each other. Between the pressures of life and the food we have come to know as “healthy”, it is no surprise that most of us are walking around exhausted and dependent on stimulants like coffee, sodas, and sugar.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
This is our body’s reaction to us asking too much of it. Each time we wake up and drink our morning cup of coffee, the adrenal glands kick in and produce the hormones known as corticosteroids. Cortisol levels typically are at their peak in the morning when we wake up and then taper off at night to help us begin our sleep cycle. Caffeine and sugar increase our cortisol levels. Once we begin our work day and our stress levels rise because of deadlines, a difficult boss, co-worker or customer, etc and more cortisol is produced to help the body manage these stressors. Now after a hard day of work, we hit the gym or the trails and we push our bodies to the max asking more from our adrenals. Or perhaps we lead a life of low stress that includes meditation, gentle exercise, and pretty good diet, however, we have an unknown food intolerance that causes bloating, joint pain, fatigue, brain fog and dis-ease. Or perhaps we have an injury or an accident that called for surgery….All of these incidents and lifestyles can lead to adrenal fatigue or worse exhaustion. Sounds hopeless? Not at all!
What are the symptoms?
Chronic fatigue, menstrual abnormalities, insomnia, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, depression, rapid aging, obesity, and stress. Waking up after a full 8 or more hours of sleep and you’re still tired or not being able to fall asleep until the wee hours of the night are both symptoms that your adrenal glands are stressed.
How do I prevent this?
The good news is there’s a lot we can do to avoid this adrenal catastrophe! We can test for adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, and food intolerances to get a clear picture of what’s going on. We can work with a doctor and nutrition expert to guide us through diet and supplements to support our adrenal health. A twofold approach is necessary for maintaining adrenal health.
A clean diet void of food intolerances, fried and processed foods, and low in sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and gluten not only help your body run like a freshly lubed engine but also gives your adrenals a break and allows them to produce enough hormones at the appropriate times, rather than all day long! If you can maintain a diet rich in plant nutrients, healthy fats & proteins, and organic fruits and vegetables along with probiotic-rich foods like fermented cabbage (think sauerkraut, kimchi) your gut will thank you with a balanced gut flora and strong immune system. When your gut is healthy and balanced, your adrenals don’t have to go in overdrive. This diet will also reward you with a sharper, more relaxed mind and sustained energy rather than brain fog, sugar spikes and crazy energy.
Laugh more, dance more, love more, and do what you enjoy more! Managing your stress through meditation, practicing your spirituality, talk therapy, self-care (massage, acupuncture, craniosacral work, yoga, time away) and moderate exercise is important not only for your sanity, heart, and bones but also for your overworked adrenals. Take some time to listen to your favorite music and go for a walk or perhaps you play an instrument or used to dance and sing? Tap into the things you used to do before life got hectic! Unplug from your electronic devices and plug into your loved ones or nature.
Lastly, here is a delicious ‘Adrenal Cocktail’ Recipe you can try at home to perk up your adrenals. We love drinking this between 2-4pm (right when you are craving your Starbucks or a chocolate chip cookie!)
2 oz orange juice
2 oz coconut milk (from a can, full fat)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Pink Salt
2 TBS collagen
1/2 tsp (1gram) vitamin C * optional
1 TBS MCT oil *optional
Stir, shake over ice or blend and enjoy!
Orange Juice – High in vitamin C which will nurture your adrenal glands
Coconut Milk – High in fat to help to stabilize the adrenal glands, and stabilize the stress response in the body.
Pink Salt– Your body can excrete more sodium and when your adrenals are taxed, they are less efficient at modulating sodium, potassium, and magnesium that are critical for function.
MCT Oil: Medium-chain triglycerides, a form of saturated fatty acid that has numerous health benefits that include boosted cognitive function, and support with weight management.
Vitamin C: This powerful antioxidant vitamin is directly involved in the production of cortisol in your adrenals
Collagen: Healing to the gut, and supportive to bones, tissues, skin and nails.