Could Adrenal Fatigue be why you are so exhausted?

  • Are you constantly tired but can’t explain why?

  • Do you feel overwhelmed by stressful situations?

  • Do you find yourself lacking in the strength and vitality that you used to enjoy?

  • Do you struggle to get out of bed in the mornings even after a long sleep?

If so, there is a good chance that you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. Adrenal Fatigue is a stress-related condition that occurs when your adrenal glands, hypothalamus and pituitary gland (together – the HPA axis) are functioning below their optimal level.

Your adrenal glands control your body’s response to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol, DHEA and epinephrine, which are used to regulate your heart rate, immune system, energy storage and more.

When the adrenal glands are overstimulated for a long period of time, they begin to weaken. Typical causes of Adrenal Fatigue include long term stress from jobs, relationship problems or even chronic disease. Eventually, the adrenals weaken so much that they are unable to respond adequately when we need them.

The most common symptom of Adrenal Fatigue is fatigue, but this is quite different from the regular fatigue that you might be used to. Adrenal Fatigue sufferers experience difficulty getting out of bed each morning, even after a long sleep.

There is one exception though – many Adrenal Fatigue sufferers get a boost in their energy levels late in the evening, a phenomenon which is related to their disrupted cortisol cycle.

They also report a general lack of enthusiasm, difficulty ‘lifting’ themselves for important occasions, and an inability to cope with stressful situations. When the adrenals become fatigued, they lose their ability to produce stress hormones – the ones that we use for our ‘fight-or-flight’ response.

Other symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue include a lowered immune system with more colds, craving for salty foods, low blood sugar, respiratory complaints, allergies, low sex drive and weight gain.

To effectively care for your adrenal glands, you must eliminate as much stress from your life as possible while at the same time maximising your stress-fighting capabilities.

As we have learned, this is the time to get serious about beating the stress and exhaustion head on!

It is time to practice self-love and self-care, to be the curator of your day and to get back to optimum health.

The food you eat is your first line of defense against Adrenal Fatigue. The advantage of creating an adrenal-supportive diet plan is that it does not involve a trip to the doctor or naturopath, will likely cost you no more than your regular diet, and will have a host of other benefits for your health too. As well as following all the nutritional tips above, those with adrenal fatigue should pay particular attention to the following:

  • Eat less sugar as it is controlled by cortisol, so when you eat too much you are indirectly affecting your adrenal glands. It also spikes blood sugar levels leading to sugar cravings.

  • Eat a good amount of healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, activated nuts and seeds, grass-fed butters, organic goats cheese.

  • Eat breakfast. The importance of breakfast for Adrenal Fatigue sufferers cannot be overstated. When we sit down at our breakfast tables we have been fasting for approximately 12 hours. Our bodies need fuel, and the need the right kind of fuel that is going to last us through the morning. At breakfast you should be eating a high quality source of protein combined with a small amount of high quality carbohydrates. A vegetable omelette or two poached eggs with blueberries would be two good examples. A healthy breakfast smoothie packed full of healthy fats would be another.

  • Ditch the coffee. Why? Caffeine stimulates your adrenals. Not a good thing. Why? Because your adrenals will become depleted over time. Instead choose herbal teas which come in a wide variety of flavours. Or I like a turmeric latte or matcha latte. Yum!

  • Eat whole foods that comes from the earth, organic where possible - at the very least for the ‘dirty dozen list’, and use it as a fuel source.

  • Eat Superfoods like seaweed, fermented drinks like Kombucha, and bone broth.

  • Beware of Allergies and Intolerances. These matter because they prevent our bodies from absorbing and using the nutrients they need, as well as promoting inflammation and interfering with our sleep/wake cycle. Food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances prevent the gut from digesting and excreting our food properly. This is why diarrhoea, constipation and other gut problems are frequently the first signs of an intolerance. They also prevent us from optimally digesting all the nutrients in our foods, leaving us weakened and low in energy. They can also promote inflammation in the gut, which triggers a release of histamine (along with its classic signs of sneezing and coughing). Lastly, by preventing us from digesting our food properly they can also promote the growth of unhealthy bacteria in our gut, weakening our immune system even further.

If you feel that you may be suffering from the symptoms of adrenal fatigue I recommend you have your condition assessed by an experienced medical practitioner. You can also book in to see Amy in her clinic, where she regularly treats women for stress-related conditions.