Adrenal fatigue seems to be everywhere these days. I read articles about it online, see Facebook posts, listen to podcasts; but what is it and why should I care?
Adrenal fatigue is a fatigue caused by overworked, or poorly working, adrenal glands. It frequently occurs in individuals who are under a lot of mental, emotional or physical stress. Who isn’t under a lot of stress these days? This is why we are hearing so much more about adrenal fatigue recently.
The adrenal glands are directly affected by stress. Stress has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive issues and a number of other health conditions. Stress can create imbalances in blood sugar and our hormones, which can negatively affect our immune system. You are probably familiar with the “fight or flight” response. Your adrenals produce certain hormones in a response to stress and are responsible for the “fight or flight” response. When a stressful situation arises the adrenal glands cause a rise in blood pressure, send the blood to your extremities, cause an increase in heart rate, suppress your immune system and increase your body’s blood clotting ability. The “fight or flight” response is only meant to last for a short period of time and after the stressful event we are meant to relax and recover. Unfortunately, too many people today are too stressed out and never get the opportunity for their adrenal glands to rest or recover. We are constantly living in “fight or flight”. Over time as we continue from one stressful situation to another our adrenal glands become overworked, start to shrink and eventually become exhausted.
When the adrenals become exhausted and you are experiencing adrenal fatigue your immune system becomes suppressed, leading to more colds and/or allergies. Digestive issues such as indigestion, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome may occur due to less blood being supplied to the digestive tract. The body’s increased ability for blood clotting leads to an increased risk of heart disease.
If you are under a lot of stress and feel you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue what can you do? Do not worry as this will only cause more stress. First, look at where you can eliminate some of the stress you are experiencing. Could you delegate some of your duties at work or at home? Could you take a little time for yourself each day? You could reduce stress levels by going for a walk, doing yoga or meditating, just to name a few ideas. Second, make sure you are properly fueling your body. Eat plenty of real quality foods, decrease your sugar intake, and do not skip meals.
When working one-on-one with nutrition clients I have them take a nutritional assessment questionnaire to help determine nutrition and lifestyle recommendations. One of the sections addresses adrenal support. The following are examples of some of the questions that are asked in the adrenal section:
- Are you a “night person”?
- Do you have a hard time falling asleep at night?
- Do you have a hard time waking up and getting going in the morning?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
- Do you get headaches after exercise?
- Do you clench or grind your teeth?
- Do you crave salty foods?
- Do you salt foods before tasting them?
- Do you often yawn in the afternoon?
- Do you experience afternoon headaches?
- Do you tend to need to wear sunglasses?
- Do you feel week or dizzy?
If after answering these questions, you believe you might be experiencing adrenal fatigue and would like to take the adrenal health section of the questionnaire or if you would like to take the entire questionnaire, send me a message.
Jamey, NTP, CPT