What is Adrenal Fatigue?
How do you know if you have it?
What do you do about it?
I decided to create this blog post because I was diagnosed a good while back with Adrenal Fatigue and Chronic Insomnia. This is how I’ve managed to get on top of it. Am I now 100%? Not totally. But in a much better place than where I started. My years of study in the menopausal field has included Adrenal Fatigue, so this is my personal experience and culmination of how I interpret the medical information. I must mention, one of my favourite books and authors is ‘Adrenal Fatigue’ – The 21st century stress syndrome. By James L. Wilson N.D. PhD. Much of what I present here is an interpretation of this fabulous work combined with my own experience with AF.
About 80% of women suffer from Adrenal Fatigue.
It can be something that’s simply ‘annoying’ and we are told to ‘live with it’.
OR, it can be so severe that it becomes debilitating.
Our Adrenals are those two little plum sized glands that sit directly above our kidneys. They’ve been called ‘The Little Napoleons’ of the body because they control everything especially in a woman facing menopause!
So what is Adrenal Fatigue or ‘Hypoadrenia’?
Our adrenals are super finely tuned to continually release precise levels of hormones for the needs of our body. Our adrenals are our stress and emotion centres. However when we face continual stress, emotional upheaval, illness, chemical disruption from the environment, sugar level irregularities or food sensitivities along with a multitude of other modern day upsets, then our adrenals can be seriously affected.
So Adrenal Fatigue (AF) is literally the fatiguing of these very small but powerful glands. Extreme symptoms of AF can lead to full blown syndromes like Chronic Fatigue, Autoimmune disorders, Insulin resistance to name a few. Some doctors recognise AF but unfortunately many don’t until they become the syndromes mentioned above.
So do I ‘catch’ Adrenal Fatigue or is it something that just develops?
AF can occur in a number of different ways.
- It can creep up slowly.
Constant stresses throughout our life that we never really recover from can lead to AF. Stresses like emotional upsets, illnesses, accidents or even bouts of flues or infection or constant exposure to chemicals and slowly create a ‘creep up’ of AF and then we find ourselves at 40 or 50 with a level of fatigue that we can’t shake.
- It hits us fast.
A major shock. E.g. death of a loved one or a serious injurious accident that is tough to recover from can bring AF on.
- It’s there from birth.
We can even be born with weak adrenals making us susceptible to physical and emotional stress with a weaker resistance.
In my case it was a culmination of lots of stresses over the years that I never really dealt with. I’d brush so much aside thinking it was a normal part of life. Emotional upheaval, relationship dramas, single parenthood and the accompanying stresses, illness etc. Over time as these stresses crept up my body went into overwhelm and menopause became horrendous.
What are some signs and symptoms of AF? (source: ‘Adrenal Fatigue’ – The 21st century stress syndrome. By James L. Wilson N.D. PhD.
Have you noticed two or more of the following symptoms?
- Difficulty getting up in the morning and feeling fatigued during the day. You wake up at the third alarm and still take a good half hour or so to feel ‘awake’.
- You crave salty foods. I was told to drink more water but put a quarter teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt into my water bottle.
- Everyday tasks seem like they take increased effort. Walking up a set of stairs, walking to the carpark from the shopping centre, hauling groceries wreck you.
- Decreased sex drive. Or rather, your sex drive has gone and driven off into the unknown.
- Emotional reactions to stress are amplified. Like the time you blew up at Aunt Ethel after the fifth criticism of your weight. Or 5 years after the death of someone close you still crack up at the mention of them.
- That last flu took 4 weeks rather than 4 days to recover from.
- Light headed when you stand up. Sometimes you feel like you’re going to pass out when you get up off the floor or a chair – this is not just a blood pressure issue.
- Mild depression or a feeling of anxiety that won’t shake
- You just don’t feel like doing fun things any more. It’s easier to stay home.
- You drive yourself with colas, snackfoods, sugar and caffeine just to feel better. Especially if your meals are skipped or inadequate.
- Thinking is fuzzy, memory a little poorer and you can’t focus your thoughts. You lose track easily and need to read paragraphs a few times to ‘get it’. You’ve forgotten that person’s name again!!!
- Decreased tolerance. People seem way more irritating than ever. You wish there was a ‘BS’ button on facebook!!!
You don’t have to present with ALL of the above to diagnose AF and at the same time one of these symptoms does not mean you have it. But if, with a few of these you find yourself agreeing, then collectively it could suggest AF is present.
Of course if symptoms bother you, go see your physician for appropriate blood and hormone tests.
If there’s a book worth getting it’s this one!!!! Best advice about Adrenal Fatigue and written in easy to apply language.
5 Keys to feeling a whole heap better.
- The food you take in will determine how you feel and how you age. Your body and all of its workings are totally dependent on the nutrition it takes in. What we eat, absorb, assimilate and digest literally becomes a part of us. Nutrients that are crucial: Co enzyme Q10, Magnesium (got chocolate cravings? That’ll be a shortage of magnesium), Vitamin C, B group vitamins, Vitamin D, essential fatty acids. Lots of leafy greens, fish, oils and good quality fats.
- Foods to avoid (or at least cut right down): caffeine, sugar, alcohol, dairy, refined carbs. These are ‘inflammatory foods’.
- Movement – One of the worst things an adrenally fatigued person can do is overexercise. Pounding it out at the gym, going hard with a PT and driving your heart until it’s pounding will exacerbate AF. Exercise that is fun and still works the body (brisk walking, dancing, swimming) is ideal for cardio but resistance exercise that incorporates stretch, flexibility, balance and weight lifting (like yoga) is ideal. Exercise decreases depression and feelings of low self worth. So when you’re feeling frustrated, head out for a walk.
- Mindfulness. Deep breathing and meditation has been proven to be the only practice that brings our nervous system from fight, flight or freeze to relaxed. Adrenals need to feel relaxed and destressed.
- Environment. Chemicals from pollution, car exhausts, sprays, pesticides, cleaning equipment, fuel, dry cleaning, fabrics, carpets, food additives and chemicals in our drinking water are all areas that increase AF. Being aware of our environment and doing our best to reduce the external stresses will help.
- Sleep. Most AF sufferers have poor quality sleep. So think about going to bed at regular hours between 9 and 10pm when your cortisol levels are starting to drop. Keep your room dark and cool with no computers, iphones or blue light. Here’s something you mike like – our adrenals do much of their healing between the hours of 7am and 9am. So if there’s any chance that you can sleep in til 9 or later, your adrenals will love you.
The Supplements that I simply can’t do without and here’s why I take them. I only recommend pharmaceutical grade product and only what I would take I’d suggest a client take.
- Usana’s Cellsentials the perfect mix of balanced and formulated antioxidants and minerals. These filled in the gaps that my diet simply didn’t.
- Coenzyme Q10 – Usana’s CoQ100. CoQ100 is specifically for the mitochondrial engines. Your energy spark plug. Helped to eliminate my foggy brain.
- Fish oils – Usana’s ‘Biomega’. No mercury, no metals to make things worse. Just pure omega 3 oils.
Would you like to try them for yourself? If so, head along to http://www.rollbacktheodometer.usana.com
It’s because I personally have lived with Adrenal Fatigue for many years and have pretty much conquered it – to about 90% success – I do believe I can help you find a way to feel better within yourself and live the ‘kick ass’ life you’d love to live.
Would you like to talk or ask some questions about Adrenal Fatigue? Would you like to try the same nutritional protocol I take that has helped me immensely? Call or email any time for 30 minute chat over zoom or meetup at a café.
My method of working with clients with Adrenal Fatigue is fun and effective. Would you like to try one of my classes?