The Under-Diagnosed Disorder that May be Ruining Your Life

exhausted, tired, adrenal fatigue

Do you feel exhausted, weak or unmotivated, regardless of how much sleep you get?

Have you seen doctors and had lab tests to try and figure out why you are so fatigued, only to be told that you’re perfectly healthy?

If you answered yes to either, you may have adrenal fatigue; a debilitating condition that is wildly under-diagnosed and rarely treated!

What Exactly is Adrenal Fatigue?

Your adrenal glands are responsible for producing and regulating a variety of important hormones, and they play a vital role in the production of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine and adrenaline.[1] Our modern lives subject us to countless daily stressors; stressors that our caveman ancestors did not have to deal with. Waking up to a jolting alarm clock, fighting traffic, meeting deadlines, irregular sleeping and eating schedules, overtraining at the gym, overpacked schedules, and financial worries are just a handful of stressors that strain your adrenal glands. These daily stressors put your body in a state of fight-or-flight, and your adrenal glands react by releasing extra cortisol and adrenaline in order to prepare you to ‘fight or flea’ the perceived threat. Overtime though, your adrenal glands become exhausted, and your hormones depleted, leaving you feeling like your running on an empty tank.

Adrenal fatigue is an endocrine condition that is so common that some alternative health practitioners are now referring to it as ‘21st Century Stress Syndrome.’ Although adrenal fatigue is estimated to effect millions of people worldwide, conventional medicine does not yet recognize it as a distinct syndrome, so a check-up with a traditional MD will typically not result in a diagnoses.

Recognize Any Of These Common Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms?[2][3]

  • chronic, long lasting fatigue
  • unrefreshing sleep and trouble getting up in the morning
  • sugar cravings
  • salt cravings
  • racing thoughts (especially at bedtime)
  • daytime exhaustion and a surge of energy closer to bedtime
  • lack of ambition
  • low energy
  • excessive reliance on caffeine
  • decreased memory and concentration
  • brain fog
  • depression
  • dry skin, hair and nails
  • worsening of allergy symptoms
  • a shortened fuse
  • constipation
  • decreased sex drive

Factors That Increase Your Risk for Adrenal Fatigue[4]

  • shift work
  • a history of severe emotional trauma or prolonged stress
  • perfectionistic personality
  • overtraining
  • working a job where your feel trapped or powerless
  • a thyroid disorder
  • acute or chronic infections
  • a high sugar and/or refined carbohydrate diet
  • alcohol or substance abuse

Adrenal fatigue should not be taken lightly and it is unlikely to go away on it’s own. If left untreated, the following consequences may arise.

Personal Consequences Of Untreated Adrenal Fatigue

  • personal productivity declines
  • patience decreases
  • relationships suffer
  • job performance declines

Possible Physical Consequences Of Untreated Adrenal Fatigue

  • a compromised immune system
  • blood sugar disorders
  • elevated inflammation levels and increased risk for inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • weight gain, especially around the mid section, and consequently, increased risk for diseases such as heart disease and diabetes

If you identify with the above symptoms and risk factors, you should consult with your healthcare practitioner, or book a one-on-one consult with one of our Holistic Health Experts. In the meantime, the following food and supplement recommendations can help jump start your recovery and help you start feeling more like yourself again.

Adrenal Gland Nourishing Diet

Start by cutting out all sugar, refined grains, alcohol and caffeine — these substances put unnecessary stress on your adrenal glands. Use the 80/20 rule, and try to make 80 percent of your diet wholefoods based, with plenty of whole grains, nuts and seeds, healthy proteins (fish, fowl, eggs, organic processed meat, legumes etc.), and at least 6 servings of brightly colored vegetables a day.

Eat within half an hour of waking up and have 3 small snacks and 3 small meals a day, so that you’re eating something every 3 hours. Try to consume a combination of healthy fats, protein and whole grains with each meal, in order to balance out your blood sugar levels.[5] Don’t eat sweet fruits on their own, because they will spike your blood sugar, and try to limit starchy and sugary vegetables and fruits, especially bananas.

Sodium is essential for proper adrenal function but you should avoid processed table salt, and instead, nourish your adrenal glads with Himalayan or Celtic sea salt. Healthy fats are also important, and required for the production of hormones. Good examples include olive oil, real butter, coconut oil, avocados, walnut oil and grapeseed oil. Finally, identify any potential food sensitivities and be sure to eliminate them from your diet.

Supplement Recommendations for Restoring Adrenal Health

Ideally you would get all the nutrients you need from your diet. Unfortunately however, our soils are depleted of vital nutrients, and if you have adrenal fatigue, there is a high likelihood that you also have poor digestive function, so the nutrients you are consuming aren’t being properly absorbed. As such, you may require the addition of supplements, at least for a few months, in order to strengthen your adrenal glands and hasten recovery. A few helpful supplements to discuss taking with your healthcare provider include:

  • Vitamin C (it is required for the production of cortisol in your adrenal glands, and it will also help boost your immune system)
  • B-complex (essential for the production of energy, for reducing fatigue and for the creation of certain adrenal hormones)
  • Magnesium (a very common deficiency in America; low magnesium levels can cause fatigue and depression and supplementing may help reduce stress levels by promoting relaxation and enhancing sleep)
  • Ashwagandha and or Licorice Root (adaptogenic herbs that helps regulate cortisol levels)

Research and References:

[1] J Nov Physiother. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 May 9.  J Nov Physiother. 2013 Feb 16; 3(125): 11717. doi:  10.4172/2165-7025.1000125. Overtraining, Exercise, and Adrenal Insufficiency
[2] J Nov Physiother. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 May 9.  J Nov Physiother. 2013 Feb 16; 3(125): 11717. doi:  10.4172/2165-7025.1000125. Overtraining, Exercise, and Adrenal Insufficiency
[3] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Adrenal Insufficiency and Addison’s Disease 
[4] J Nov Physiother. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2013 May 9.  J Nov Physiother. 2013 Feb 16; 3(125): 11717. doi:  10.4172/2165-7025.1000125. Overtraining, Exercise, and Adrenal Insufficiency
[5] Adrenal Fatigue Center. Adrenal Fatigue Diet.