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Girl, give your adrenals a break

Are you feeling tired all the time? Are you gaining weight and can’t seem to lose it? Do you feel burnt out in the morning but energized all night long? No, this isn’t a drug ad, and you probably don’t need to take any medication anyway. You may just have adrenal fatigue.

What are your adrenals?

Your adrenal glands are similar to your thyroid glands, in which they are responsible for the production and spread of hormones throughout your body. These hormones (including cortisol) help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress, and other important functions. So you can see why your adrenals are so important, and why it’s vital to keep them healthy!

The adrenals sit on top of your kidneys. My husband found out that he had adrenal fatigue when our holistic doctor identified a problem with his kidneys, which she then root-caused as a deeper problem with his adrenal glands.

Introducing: Cortisol

Cortisol is best known as the “stress hormone”. It’s the hormone that is responsible for your sleep/wake cycle, handling stress, burning fat, increases blood sugar, and so much more. Think of it as your body’s built-in alarm system. It’s essential for your body… but it’s essential that it fluctuates throughout the day. Too little of it is bad; too much is bad, too. In times of high stress, your adrenals will produce cortisol, which then keys up or shuts off different systems of your body. This is the basic idea of “fight or flight”. For example, cortisol will trigger the shut down of your digestive, reproductive, and immune systems, and even your growth processes, while it will bump up your heart rate and sensory awareness. Ideally, after the danger passes, your cortisol levels should go down.

What is adrenal fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is when your cortisol levels don’t go back down because your adrenals sense (either correctly or incorrectly) that you are in a constant state of stress. Basically, the adrenals are sitting on the alarm button. With your body essentially being in a state of panic all the time (even if your mental state isn’t), the effects are really bad on your body. It can lead to symptoms like:

  • Being tired or fatigued to the point of having trouble getting out of bed

  • Experiencing poor sleep

  • Getting energized as the day goes on (into the late hours)

  • Feeling anxious, nervous, or rundown

  • Craving salty and sweet snacks

  • Having digestive issues

  • Frequent headaches

And remember, just because these symptoms are common does not make them normal.

These symptoms may be indicative of another illness, such as fibromyalgia or hypothyroidism. But if you’ve been tested by a doctor regarding these symptoms and they can’t find an issue, you may feel bleak about your future (“Will I feel like this forever?”). It’s important to always rule out disease or illness through medical testing before attempting to “fix” yourself.

Left untreated, it can lead to Cushing’s Disease:

  • Fullness and rounding of the face

  • Added fat on back of neck (so-called "buffalo hump")

  • Easy bruising of the skin

  • Purplish stretch marks on the abdomen

  • Excessive weight gain, most marked in the abdominal region, while the legs and arms remain thin

  • Red cheeks

  • Excess hair growth on the face, neck, chest, abdomen and thighs

  • Generalized weakness and fatigue; wasting of muscles, most noticeably in the upper thighs. You may have difficulty getting up from a chair.

  • Menstrual disorders

  • Decreased fertility and/or sex drive

  • High blood pressure that is often difficult to treat

  • Diabetes mellitus, often severe

  • Mood and behavior disorders; some patients have psychiatric disorders that require hospitalization

Causes of adrenal fatigue

  • Prolonged periods of stress, whether good or bad (moving houses, changing careers, school, change in relationships, death of a loved one, etc.)

  • Unsafe/uncertain living conditions (emotional or physical abuse, improper housing, financial struggles, etc.)

  • Ingesting overstimulating drinks (regular consumption of energy drinks, coffee on an empty stomach, etc.)

  • Malnourishment/hunger (not eating enough food, eating junk food, not getting enough nutrients in your diet)

  • Exposure to toxic environments

  • Lack of sleep

  • Chronic pain

  • Too much/too intensive exercise

How to fix adrenal fatigue

First and foremost, you need to identify what is stressing you out. Is there trauma that hasn’t been dealt with? Are you undergoing a stressful time at school or work? Are you simply filling your body with excess caffeine, adrenaline, and junk food?

Once you’ve identified the source of stress, you need to deal with it. That may mean something as simple as eating breakfast with your morning coffee, or it may be much more difficult, like leaving an abusive situation. Either way, your safety and health are much more important than whatever it is you’re giving up.

Some other, simpler ways to repair your adrenals include:

  • Drinking “adrenal cocktails” during the midday slump for a boost of naturally energizing vitamins and minerals

  • Eliminate toxins in your environment (soaps/shampoos, cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, and even certain fabrics can all be toxic)

  • Avoid caffeine, excess sugar, and processed foods

  • Add nutrient-dense, REAL foods into your diet

  • Eat every 3-4 hours

  • Develop a good system for handling day-to-day stress (journaling, prayer, exercise, gratitude, etc.)

  • Take an adrenal support supplement (always check with your health practitioner first!)

Fixing adrenal fatigue is the exact same process as fixing everything else: develop a healthy mindset, detox your body and environment, and fortify your body with nutritional foods.

Seeing a holistic practitioner can help with providing herbs and supplements for repairing your adrenal glands, which may speed up the process.

When it comes to fertility, you need to feel safe.

While my husband is the one who has adrenal fatigue (it’s multiple coffees on an empty stomach, I swear), it’s especially important for women to make sure their adrenals are functioning properly. Remember when I said that increased cortisol will turn off your reproductive system? In many cases, women may be having prolonged stress over not getting pregnant - which, in turn, is only raising their cortisol levels and reducing their chances of conceiving. Ultimately, the healthiest, best situation for a woman who wants to become pregnant or is pregnant is feeling safe.

So, how do you feel about adrenal fatigue? What are you going to implement in your own life that will help heal your adrenals? Let me know below!


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