Adrenal Fatigue - What is it and what to do for it.Dec 30, 2021
You may have heard of adrenal fatigue before but what exactly is it and how do we deal with adrenal fatigue if we feel like we are suffering from it?
Adrenal fatigue or HPA dysfunction is basically too much stress on the adrenals. BUT what does that mean? Let's back track a little and talk about what your adrenals are. Your adrenal glands are small organs above your kidneys that respond to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol is used in the regulation of blood pressure. In response to stress, the adrenals release greater amounts of cortisol. Adrenal fatigue is thought to occur when the adrenals have become overtaxed by excess cortisol release and can no longer produce levels of cortisol necessary for optimal body function.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- feeling tired but wired
- trouble falling asleep or waking up too early in the morning
- craving a lot of salt or sugar
- painful periods
- feeling overwhelmed a lot
- low immune function
- not feeling like yourself
So what can you do if you feel like you might have adrenal fatigue?
1 - Skip the caffeine first thing in the morning. Gasp. Yes I said it. Drinking that cup of coffee immediately upon waking is going to put your adrenals into immediate overdrive and though it might get you through the morning it can have negative affects on our endocrine system long term. Forgo your cup of joe and replace it with an adrenal cocktail. This is a mixture of minerals and vitamins that your adrenal glands really need. Stress depletes these minerals and cause our adrenals to suffer. So using this "cocktail" can help to replenish them.
2 - Eat a breakfast made of proteins, fats and fiber ideally within an hour of waking. Skipping breakfast can be very taxing on woman's hormones, especially adrenals. When we wake up in the morning our body has depleted our glycogen stores (energy stores) and our blood sugar will be lower. When we skip breakfast, we can release more cortisol which will cause extra stress on the body. More stress, means more cortisol is pumped out. Excess cortisol means excess fat storage. Pay attention to your body's cues and aim to eat within 1-2 hours of waking. Building a good balanced meal with lean protein (30g), fiber (aka veggies or whole grains), and healthy fats (1-2 tbsp.). This might look like an egg scramble with 1 egg + 3 egg whites, turkey bacon, bell peppers and spinach with toast + 1 tbsp. peanut butter. Or maybe it's a bowl of oatmeal with protein powder, flax-meal and almond butter. A breakfast built using protein, fat and fiber will help to support blood sugar regulation, keep you full longer and support your adrenals.
3 - Cut back on exercise intensity. You know that HIIT cycle class you've been taking 4 days a week. Yeah it's probably doing more harm than good. High impact exercise puts strain on the adrenals, especially when the adrenals are already fatigued. Instead focus on weights, walking and rest. Strength training (when done moderately) along with low impact walking and rest can have amazing benefits to the body. If you've been go, go, going non stop with higher intensity or cardio workouts, it might be time to switch it up and give your adrenals a rest! Try something lower impact like pilates, yoga or barre + 1-2 days of strength training. You might even see more results!
If you suspect you have symptoms of adrenal fatigue, give these three tips a try to see if they improve. Do know that it can take a minimum of 6 months to really see/feel results to be patient and consistent!
Of course if you have any questions or would like support in healing your adrenals, please email me at [email protected]
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