My Experience with adrenal fatigue. ‘A constant state of fight or flight.’
Fatigue and insomnia, digestive tract upsets, irritability and anxiety, prefer being alone, fluctuating blood pressure that is sometimes too low, perfectionist tendencies, difficulty relaxing, cravings for salt, head, neck and shoulder tension, loss of hair, and diminished sex drive.
These are all symptoms of adrenal fatigue and what I experienced roughly 2 years ago when I was in the midst of my near adrenal burn out. What was most concerning for me was the rate at which my hair was shortening, my intense episodes of random anxiety, my inability to properly digest my food and my frequent insomnia. These are the symptoms of ADRENAL FATIGUE, or more bluntly, adrenal BURNOUT.
So what exactly is adrenal fatigue?
The adrenals are glands that produce stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine in response to stress. The adrenals also produce aldosterone which helps regulate blood pressure. The adrenal cortex also releases small amounts of male and female sex hormones.
Norepinephrine increases heart rate and blood pressure, triggers the release of glucose from energy stores so we have more glucose as energy in the blood during times of stress, increases blood flow to skeletal muscle, reduces blood flow to the gastrointestinal system, and inhibits gastrointestinal motility. This is why you can not DIGEST FOOD properly when you are in a state of stress and may experience ongoing constipation. Adrenaline from the adrenals triggers our body’s fight or flight response.
If there are constant demands of stress placed on the body including physical (too much exercise!), mental, emotional, environmental, even dietary stress, this keeps our body in a constant state of “fight or flight” while releasing an excess amount of adrenocortical hormone into the blood stream. If the stress persists, this results in exhaustion of the adrenal glands glands.
Many people also experience either significant weight gain (espeically around the mid section) or significant weight loss during periods of adrenal fatigue. This is due to the imbalances in blood sugar and cortisol in the body.
So what can you do if you think you are on the verge of adrenal burnout?
1) LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS MUST ALWAYS be #1 priority. You can take all the vitamins and adaptogenic herbs in the world and still be adrenally fatigued if you don’t remove as many stressors from your life as possible. Remember, stressors can be physical, dietary, emotional and environmental.
Stress management techniques such as mediation, adequate sleep, mindfulness and moderate exercise, less often until adrenal balance is restored will also help.
2) Next, include adrenal supporting nutrients. These include vitamin C, B5, potassium, B12, vitamin E, and choline. I recommend a high quality multivitamin as opposed to supplementing with these individual nutrients to avoid imbalances.
3) DIET - Remove refined carbs and sugars. These negatively impact the adrenals, as do caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and sugar.*
4) Include adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, Rhodiola and maca to increase the body’s resistance to stress, lower cortisol and nourish the adrenals.
If you're looking for help to create a diet and supplement plan that nourishes your adrenals, I would be happy to help! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org today :).