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Adrenal Fatigue 101

Adrenal what?

Before we dive into how to treat them, let’s go over (at least briefly) what the heck your adrenal glands actually are! Your adrenals are very small triangular-shaped endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys. Their main role is to regulate the stress response in your body and they are also incredibly important for a healthy immune system. As they are essential for proper thyroid function, balancing hormones, maintaining a balanced weight, stabilizing emotions and controlling cravings, these little guys carry quite the punch when it comes to overall wellbeing!

Adrenal fatigue, to put simply, is when your adrenals slow down and eventually burn out. It often goes unnoticed or misdiagnosed, and yet so many of us in today’s world are experiencing some form of stress on our adrenals.

How does it happen?

Adrenal fatigue is an often misdiagnosed illness, and one that most people haven’t heard about. It is usually caused by physical, emotional and or psychological stress. Even infections, injuries, and environmental stress can take a toll on the adrenals. If the glands aren’t in an environment to recover and replenish, adrenal fatigue often occurs.

As the pace of life speeds up and our daily habits consist of coffee overload, sleep deprivation, high work and life stress, consumption of sugar and refined carbs, smoking, oh and more coffee, our adrenals eventually slow down and lead to burn out. What used to be a rare health issue, adrenal fatigue has become drastically more prevalent.

Do I have it?

Without playing doctor and listing the long and varied list of symptoms that ensue when adrenals are burnt out (but we’ve given you a general list below), it is suffice to say that majority of us at least experience some level of high stress. You can test for adrenal fatigue through a saliva test done with your doctor or naturopath, but treating your body with calming herbs, rest and nourishing foods is never a bad idea for all of us! Since they are pretty much the key regulators of your body, re-balancing these guys may just be the ticket to solving your unexplained health challenges, or general low energy.

Here’s a list of some of the signs and symptoms that could be an indication that you’re experiencing adrenal fatigue or full on burn out. Do note that a complete list can be very extensive and varied. Adrenal fatigue manifests itself in many different ways from person to person.

  • Trouble sleeping at night but wanting to sleep during the day
  • Craving excess salt and sugar
  • Lack of sex drive and general lack of love for life
  • Feeling overwhelmed and confused
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Blood sugar irregularity
  • Lack of concentration
  • Respiratory issues
  • Low blood pressure
  • Aches in sinuses, lower back and temples
  • Recurrent cold or flu
  • Unexplained change in body shape

Simple ways to help you heal your adrenals

Fear not! We can in fact restore the adrenals back to health. With a change in lifestyle and a lot of patience, we can nurture them enough to feel great again. Depending on how serious the case, it could take a big shift in your daily lifestyle (for the better that is). But whatever the level of severity, these easy and simple techniques are perfect for all those that experience stress in their lives, adrenal issues or not!

+ Cut the crap. All the processed, sugar-filled junk food needs to go.
+ Nourish. Instead, begin nourishing your body with quality organic foods, an abundance of nutritious vegetables and whole foods.
+ Start decreasing your coffee habit. Caffeine will only put more pressure on your adrenals and drain the body of its nutrients.
+ Move in a way that feels good. As we need to decrease stress, this also means physical stress. Quit those intense ‘no pain no gain’ workouts and focus on exercise that nurtures the body such as yoga and hiking.
+ Protein. Be sure to include it in every meal.
+ Carve out ‘me time’. Each and every day, be sure to unwind and do something that makes you happy and feel nurtured.
+ Supplement. Take a high quality Vit C, B complex, Vit E and magnesium.
+ Get lots of rest. Have a cut off time for bed and stick to it.
+ Cut the negativity. This means people, work, and environment. Focus on what is good and if you need to, learn to walk away from what is draining your energy rather than fuelling it.

Stress at times can be unavoidable. But there are ways in which we can actively choose to limit our stress in life – by eating a healthy, whole foods diet, getting enough rest, limiting caffeine and alcohol and taking much more nourishing time and activities for ourselves. All of these things can greatly impact our lives and simultaneously help heal potentially fatigued adrenal glands. If you do feel as though you have adrenal fatigue and these tips are only getting you so far, we highly recommend that you speak to your naturopath to assist you in your path to healing.

Stay tuned for our next article on how to heal your adrenals with adaptogenic herbs!