Do you often feel inexplicably exhausted, finding it hard to get going every morning and get through the day? Do you rely on that strong morning java to get you moving? Adrenal Fatigue could possibly be the cause. But what exactly is Adrenal Fatigue? What causes it? What can be done about it?
What is the function of the adrenal glands?
The adrenal glands, also called suprarenal glands, are triangular shaped endocrine glands that are located right above the kidneys. The adrenal glands are extremely important because they produce over 50 hormones that are absolutely necessary for us to be able to live healthy lives. Here are a few of the essential functions of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands:
- Secretion of corticosteroids, including cortisol and adrenaline. These are secreted in response to stress, whether it is an emotional stress, repetitive ongoing daily stress, or stress from a physical crisis. This is our ‘fight or flight’ response mechanism.
- Producing energy: hormones help our body convert protein, fats and carbohydrates into energy
- Maintaining balance of fluids and electrolytes
- Fat storage
- Production of cortisol, which has a number of functions: it regulates blood pressure, normalizes blood sugar, and plays a role in controlling the strength of the immune system
What exactly is Adrenal Fatigue?
When the adrenal glands are not functioning at their optimal level, or become tired and unable to deal with stressors, it can result in a feeling of continual exhaustion, which is often referred to as Adrenal Fatigue. While some people have few symptoms, besides incredible fatigue, other people experience many symptoms. Thyroid problems and adrenal exhaustion often go hand in hand. Here are some symptoms that could be related to tired adrenal glands:
- Extreme sweating or perspiration, without a lot of activity
- Body aches
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Unexplained weight loss
- Low blood sugar
- Heart palpitations
- Poor night vision or sensitivity to light
- Low stamina, especially for stress
- Low immune function – chronic infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, yeast)
- Low blood pressure – consistently
- Poor sleep – sleeping enough hours but not feeling rested
- Brain fog or difficulties with concentration
- Lack of libido
- Allergies to food or environment
- Negative response to thyroid hormone
- Poor digestion
- Craving salty and sweet foods
There seems to be a controversy between conventional medicine, and holistic medical approaches when it comes to diagnosing Adrenal Fatigue. Although we often hear the term ‘Adrenal Fatigue’, I was surprised to learn that it is not a medically accepted diagnosis in conventional medicine. According to the Mayo Clinic “The term often shows up in popular health books and on alternative medicine websites, but it isn’t an accepted medical diagnosis.” They go on to say “…the medical term adrenal insufficiency, or Addison’s disease, refers to inadequate production of one or more of these hormones as a result of an underlying disease”. Blood tests and other special tests can determine if the adrenal glands have inadequate hormone production.
What causes Adrenal Fatigue?
- Lifestyle factors such as poor diet (junk food), lack of sleep, excessive caffeine, smoking, and not taking time to relax
- Excessive amounts of stress
What can we do to support our adrenal glands and/or help heal Adrenal Fatigue?
Since the adrenal glands are extremely important for many functions in our body and for our immune system, it is very important to seek medical advice if you suspect your adrenal glands are not functioning properly. There are a number of lifestyle changes that can be made to support our adrenal glands:
- Eat regular, healthy meals including plenty of unrefined carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins and healthy oils.
- Avoid eating refined, processed foods that have no nutritional value (junk food)
- Minimize the stress in your life, including your exposure to negative people
- Add some fun into your life every day; laugh!
- Get enough sleep and find time for relaxation or meditation
- Minimize the amount of caffeinated beverages you drink
- Drink plenty of clean, filtered water
- Quit smoking
- Get regular exercise
- Taking vitamin supplements could also help: Vitamins E, C, and B complex (especially B6 and pantothenic acid), calcium and magnesium
Need support around making changes in your diet and lifestyle, with the goal of supporting your adrenal glands and increasing your energy level? Health coaching can help! Contact me.
Copyright © 2014 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved