Fighting Adrenal Fatigue

Feeling tired and worn out all the time seems to be an epidemic issue in our country. We’ve gotten so fast paced and busy and don’t take a break to disconnect from it all. It used to be that the phone hung on the wall and people knew it was hit-or-miss whether they’d reach you when they called. Now we’re rarely away from our phones and if we text or email we expect an immediate response.

No Quick Fix

When fatigue sets in, we turn to coffee and energy drinks or look to other quick fixes and stimulants to give us the boost we need to get through another day. Our busy schedules have us grabbing fast food because it’s the only thing we have time for in between appointments, sports, school functions and other responsibilities. We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul – these habits create a health deficit, add extra pounds around the middle, and bring on nutrient deficiencies. Sooner or later it all catches up to us and we feel blindsighted when disease hits.

Adrenal Fatigue

Whether you wake up tired, feel tired mid-afternoon, or are tired all day then get a burst of energy at night, it’s all sides of the same issue – adrenal fatigue. I like to use a rubber band analogy when it comes to adrenals: healthy adrenals get stretched and pulled on under stress and recover during times of rest, as opposed to adrenal fatigue where stress and overwork keep stretching and pulling on the adrenals until they stop recovering and stay stressed out.

Have you ever met someone who says their back went out when all they did was bend over? The root of this is in adrenal fatigue. The ligaments also fall under the rubber band analogy, and when stressed adrenals use the nutrients the ligaments need to be “stretchy,” they lose that stretch and then muscles spasm trying to hold things in place. I’ve seen chiropractors have a lot of success when they supplement for adrenal stress in these individuals while doing adjustments to hold everything in place.

Fatigue Fighting Strategies

1.  Cutting out caffeine and other stimulants is essential to healing the adrenals and getting your energy back. These are called stimulants because they stimulate the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, which is one of the body’s main stress hormones. High cortisol levels put the body into fight-or-flight mode, which increases heart rate, causes fast, shallow breathing, and raises blood pressure. We mistake this hyper-vigilance for a boost in energy, but the reality is we are wearing out our adrenals by making them work so hard.

2.  Sugars and alcohol (which is like a concentrated sugar to the body) need to be eliminated when healing the adrenals. When blood sugar rollercoasters up and down, it triggers a rise in both insulin and cortisol, which stresses both the adrenals and the pancreas. Eating regular small meals rich in protein is essential to keeping blood sugars stable. If you know blood sugar is an issue for you, consider a serving of good quality whey or plant-based protein powder both first thing in the morning and last thing before bed to help you stabilize sugars.

3.  If your stress and fatigue go beyond normal lifestyle issues and into disease, I recommend testing and supplementing. I’ve rarely met a person dealing with a major disease who didn’t have adrenal fatigue. It seems like if the disease doesn’t get to you the fight against it will. This is when it’s important to test and see when cortisol is either too high or too low and supplement accordingly. An Adrenal Stress Panel is saliva testing that coordinates to your body’s Circadian rhythms, the natural patterns of cortisol production that happen throughout the day and night. Based on the results, you can make diet and supplement modifications that may help you get your energy back. The best adrenal supplements contain the vitamins and minerals the adrenals need, amino acids and adaptogens to help with stress response, and glandular extracts to support endocrine function.

4.  Unplug your bedroom and get a good night’s sleep. Exposure to EMFs can produce nearly 20 different kinds of stress hormones. Turn off your cell phone or charge it outside of your bedroom, turn off your WiFi router at night, and disconnect all appliances (including the TV) in the bedroom. Keep your bedroom dark and cool, and commit to 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If falling asleep and staying asleep are issues for you despite these techniques, then supplementing with melatonin may be a good next step.

5.  It helps to think of energy like you think of money and put yourself on a budget. You only have so much energy to spend throughout the day, so choose activities that are unavoidable or meaningful to you, and build up a savings for when you have a particularly stressful or busy time coming. When stress hits, it helps to practice yoga, do deep breathing exercises, and strengthen your spiritual connection through meditation and prayer. Mild exercise like walking also helps calm an overactive stress response and can help aid weight loss.

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