Have you ever felt tired throughout the day with no real explanation for it? Does it take you hours after waking to finally get that boost of energy you’ve been waiting for? Do you feel overly stressed with absolutely no patience or tolerance to deal with it?
If so, you may have adrenal fatigue.
What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is not a disease or illness, but more of a syndrome that is a result of several signs and symptoms your body may be experiencing. Unfortunately adrenal fatigue, specifically, is not a commonly recognized syndrome by many doctors, which is why it’s hardly ever presented as a diagnosis for the symptoms you may be experiencing.
So what exactly is adrenal fatigue?
Well first, we need to look at what the adrenal glands are, and what role they play in the body.
Adrenal glands are small glands that sit atop each kidney and are responsible for producing very important hormones from sex hormones to cortisol, with the most commonly understood hormone being adrenaline.
These small glands are what give you that “fight or flight” response when faced with dangerous or stressful situations, and they pump out the appropriate hormones to help your body get through whatever it needs to in order to survive.
When we are under a lot of stress, whether it be emotional, mental, or physical, our adrenal glands help send out the appropriate levels of anti-stress hormones our bodies need to handle the situation, but if we have too much stress, our glands can get burnt out.
Adrenal fatigue occurs when your body can no longer handle the high amounts of stress being put on it, and the glands themselves just aren’t able to keep up with the demand. When your adrenal glands can’t keep up with the stress in your life, they stop being able to regulate your stress hormones properly, and end up leaving you exhausted.
Factors that can contribute to adrenal fatigue are:
- Stressful situations like job loss/change, death of a loved one, moving, divorce, or surgery
- Exposure to environmental pollutants and toxins
- Long-term stress due to financial hardships, bad relationships, poor work environment, or depression
- Constant negative thinking, or emotional trauma
- Poor sleep quality, or lack of sleep
- Lack of exercise and poor diet
Most Common Symptoms Of Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue usually occurs in two stages: an early stage where your glands can still produce cortisol and other stress hormones, but are at risk for being completely fatigued, and a later stage where your adrenals are completely exhausted, and can’t produce adequate hormones to maintain proper function in your body.
No matter what stage you’re currently in, you’re more than likely going to experience these six common symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
1. Constantly Tired Even After Adequate Sleep
If you feel constantly tired and exhausted, even after a full night’s rest, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. Excessive sleepiness, exhaustion, and fatigue is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of adrenal fatigue, and it can severely affect your day.
If you find yourself having a really hard time getting out of bed in the morning, and caffeine just doesn’t seem to perk you up anymore, you could definitely be suffering from the effects of adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue can also affect your quality of sleep by raising your cortisol levels in response to stress, and preventing your body from going through its natural sleep cycles. So if you find that suddenly you’re not able to get that good night’s sleep you used to in the past, it could be a sign of having adrenal fatigue.
2. Full-Body Fatigue
Along with feeling tired after waking up, adrenal fatigue will, well…make you feel fatigued. When your glands can’t keep up with the stress in your life, they can’t properly send out adequate amounts of hormones any longer to keep your energy up. This results in feeling sluggish and fatigued throughout the day, everyday, to the point that it may severely impact your ability to function at work, or in social situations.
3. Inability To Handle Any Stress
We all deal with stress differently each day, and some stress is more severe than others, but when you lose the ability to handle any type of stress at all, adrenal fatigue may be the culprit.
When our adrenal glands are functioning properly, the appropriate amount of hormones get pumped out into our bodies to help us deal with stressful situations more efficiently, but if you find that you’re snapping at people, or getting frustrated, irritable, and angry at every little thing, it could be a sign that your adrenal glands are fatigued.
4. You Crave Salty & Sweet Foods
One of the hormones our adrenal glands produce is called aldosterone, which works with our kidneys to help regulate fluid and mineral excretion. When our adrenals are fatigued, they produce less aldosterone which results in our kidneys flushing out too many important minerals our bodies need, right out in our urine.
We end up losing the ability to maintain proper levels of important minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which result in cravings for salty and sweet foods. If you find that you’re suddenly reaching for a bag of potato chips and a bar of chocolate, you could be suffering from adrenal fatigue.
5. Evening Energy Boost
I realized I was suffering from adrenal fatigue when I would be completely exhausted for the first half of the day, but then suddenly in the evening, I felt better than ever. Adrenal fatigue means that your stress hormones, like cortisol, are out of whack, and instead of giving you a boost of energy in the morning, then gradually wearing off as the day progresses, adrenal fatigue will cause the opposite to happen.
If you wake up and feel totally exhausted for the first half of the day, then suddenly get a boost of energy in the evening, you very well may have adrenal fatigue.
6. Your Immune System Is Weakened
We all know how strong of an impact stress can play on our immune system, as it’s very common to feel rundown after a very stressful situation, but when you suffer from adrenal fatigue, it makes it even harder to bounce back from an illness.
Cortisol plays an important role as an anti-inflammatory for your body, and when we experience an illness, our adrenal glands kick into gear and secrete this hormone to help keep the infection from getting out of hand.
When your adrenal glands are fatigued, your cortisol levels could be way too high, which means your body’s immune system can’t properly function the way it should, and can leave you susceptible to all types of disease and illness. Getting your adrenal glands back on track is imperative to your immune function, and protecting you against any future illness.
Other Signs & Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
Depending on what stage your adrenal fatigue is in, you could be experiencing a handful or more of the following symptoms which usually correlate with one or more of the above symptoms. Here are some of the other commonly reported symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
- Asthma, allergies or respiratory complaints
- Body aches and pain
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Dry skin
- Extreme tiredness an hour after exercise
- Foggy thinking/lack of concentration
- Frequent urination
- Joint pain
- Lines in your fingertips
- Loss of muscle tone
- Low blood pressure, which can lead to lightheadedness
- Low blood sugar
- Low sex drive
- Lower back pain
- Numbness in your fingers / Poor circulation
- Racing thoughts
- Weight gain
How To Repair Adrenal Fatigue, Fast
If you’ve discovered that you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue, your first question will likely be how to fix it. There are three main steps you need to take to start repairing your adrenal glands, and get them back to functioning at full capacity.
Step 1: Diet
Diet plays a huge role in almost everything you do, and this is especially true for adrenal fatigue. There are two crucial steps when it comes to diet and your adrenal glands and they are eliminate toxic foods, and replace them with adrenal gland supporting foods.
Foods To Avoid:
- Caffeine – Caffeine is a stimulant and can interfere with your sleep cycle, thus making it difficult for your adrenals to heal and recover. Avoid caffeine as much as possible for several days, but if you must have caffeine, drink only a small amount in the morning before noon.
- Processed Foods – Processed foods should be avoided at all times, but especially during adrenal recovery. Because processed foods are loaded with artificial ingredients, fillers, and chemicals, it can be very taxing on your body and adrenal glands to try digesting and breaking down these “foods”. Ensure that you’re eating plenty of organic whole foods like grass-fed meats, organic vegetables/fruits, and wild caught fish.
- Sugar & Sweeteners – Sugar is terrible for your body, but it can be hard to avoid when it’s added into most processed foods, including bread. Try to avoid as much added sugar as possible including high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, candy, sweets, cereals, etc. If you must use a sweetener, try raw honey or stevia as a natural replacement.
- Vegetable Oils – Vegetable oils like canola, soybean, and corn oil are highly inflammatory to the body, and can lead to adrenal inflammation. Only eat healthy fats likes avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, or grass-fed butter.
Foods To Include:
- Raw coconut/coconut oil
- Wild caught fish
- Turkey and chicken
- Grass-fed beef
- Almonds and walnuts
- Pumpkin seeds, chia, and flax
- Seaweed or kelp
- Sea salt or Himalayan salt
Eating a variety of these foods, and avoiding the foods that are toxic to your body, will help you overcome and recover from adrenal fatigue quickly.
Step 2: Supplements
If you’re already eating a proper diet full of organic fruits/vegetables, wild caught fish, and grass-fed meats, then you’re already getting plenty of healthy nutrients for your body. Unfortunately because of soil depletion, many of the foods we eat today lack the nutrients they had 50 years ago, which is why supplements are so important to help fill the gap.
Here are the supplements that we should all be taking on a daily basis:
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil
- Trace Minerals
- Vitamin C (from a natural source)
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B6
Step 3: Reduce Stress
Since adrenal fatigue is caused by an over abundance of stress in the body, it makes sense to reduce our stress levels in order to help our adrenal glands recover. Taking time for yourself is so important for your health and overall well-being, and should be a priority on your daily to do list.
Here are some ways you can reduce the stress on your body:
- Sleep when you feel tired. If your body is telling you to sleep, it means you need to sleep. Take a quick nap during the day if you have time, and go to bed as soon as your body feels the need to sleep.
- Get a good 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Don’t stay up later than 10pm, and get to bed as soon as your body feels sleepy.
- Minimize clutter around the home and work space.
- Go for a casual walk outside in the early evening. You don’t have to push yourself, but just get outside and enjoy the fresh air.
- Soak in a detox bath before bedtime.
- Don’t skip meals. Eat on a regular schedule, and always eat a healthy snack when feeling hungry.
- Meditate, or do easy yoga stretches.
- Avoid negative thoughts, thinking, and talk. Negative thinking will impact your health more than you know. If you feel a negative thought, immediately replace it with a positive one. Try saying something you are thankful for every morning before you start your day.
If you do feel like you’re exhausted all the time, you may want to seek out a doctor’s care to rule out any other possible explanations for your daily fatigue, but even making the changes listed in this article are enough to make anyone start feeling better.
Take time for yourself to help reduce some of the stress in your life, and if you’re going through any sort of traumatic event, please don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance to help you cope. Your health is important, and taking care of your body is the first step in ensuring a long and happy life!
Do you suffer from adrenal fatigue? What are some ways you have helped recover your adrenal glands?