Adrenal Fatigue: I Had It, Could You?

shutterstock_110224622Adrenal fatigue is becoming a pretty common thing these days. In a world that pumps out equal amounts of stress and caffeine, our natural “fight or flight” triggers are in constant GO mode. Our primal instincts, and the accompanying hormones designed to get us out of some big messes, are now being put to the test on a daily basis. Let’s face it, we live in stressful times, and even if you think you live a mindful lifestyle, you too can find yourself with adrenal fatigue.

Our adrenals, which are little glands that sit atop the kidneys, are responsible for producing cortisol (otherwise known as the “stress hormone”). You have probably heard of cortisol as also being responsible for the muffin-top epidemic. That’s because excess cortisol causes us to gain weight, especially around our middle region. The release of cortisol is the response to a primal mechanism which tells our bodies that something is seriously amiss. But, when stress becomes part of our daily lives, we are programmed to respond in survival mode, which means that when too much cortisol is in demand, we will be left with all sorts of symptoms – weight gain being only one of them.

Some of the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:

  • excess fatigue
  • the need for caffeine just to “keep up” with daily demands
  • cravings for sugary or salty foods
  • dark circles under eyes
  • feeling overwhelmed and depressed
  • low sex drive
  • weight gain in places that aren’t typical for you
  • allergies
  • respiratory issues
  • overall sense of being “unwell”
  • aches and pains
  • diagnosed with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, or hypoglycemia
  • feeling “blah”, no zest for life

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, and use the all-too-common aids like sugar, caffeine, or other drugs to get you through the day, this is a wake up call! Adrenal fatigue will only get worse using the band-aid approach.

So, How to Fix It?

There is no quick fix, however, with a multi-faceted approach, healing will happen, and recovery will be in sight.

  • make sure you are providing solid nourishment for your body with lots of fresh foods. Your body needs quality fuel to heal.
  • substitute caffeine for an alternative (try my recipe for my Morning Cup of “Mo”).
  • steer clear of sugar – there is never an argument for more sugar – ever! By switching to stevia, raw honey and dates as sweeteners, you will be improving your health in more ways than you can imagine.
  • if you exercise a lot, take it down a notch – walk rather than run, try Rebounding, take a yoga class, give yourself the gift of slowing down a bit. Keep in mind, if the stress is reduced, so too will your pant size. You won’t have to push your body so hard to maintain a healthy weight.
  • get plenty of good quality vitamin C, it is great for healing the adrenals.
  • REST! make sure you are getting plenty of sleep at night, aim for 8 hours – more if you can. It is in times of rest that our body restores natural function and hormonal balance. The more rest you can give your body, the faster you will see improvement.

It’s easy to get hooked on all the wrong things when we are feeling tired, defeated and overwhelmed. This is when most of us resort to “comfort foods”, but the reality is that those foods are causing more harm than good, especially in situations where the body is struggling to maintain balance. This is the best time to tend to our bodies as though they are small children. Feed them good nutrient-dense food, encourage naps, and be tender with them.

The bottom line is that if we don’t ever give our bodies the opportunity to rest and recharge, we will continue to experience adrenal fatigue on some level. We have to ditch the crutches (caffeine, sugar, alcohol, etc.) and give our bodies what they longing for. Through a few lifestyle changes, you can regain your energy and zest for life. It’s time to THRIVE once again!