Have you ever felt “burned-out”? Maybe you can’t get to sleep or you can’t wake up in the morning. Maybe you’re constantly sluggish and the smallest issue becomes a REALLY BIG DEAL. I know that I have. In fact, I’m suffering with it myself as we speak.
I’ve been delving back into my nutrition books to learn more about this very common, yet rarely spoken about “burn-out” syndrome called adrenal fatigue.
What the heck are the “adrenals” anyways?
The purpose of adrenal glands is to help your body cope with the stressors of life and to ultimately help you survive. These two glands (which sit above your kidneys) enable your body to deal with stress which encompasses many aspects – disease and injury and even challenges in relationships. Simply put, the adrenals determine the energy of your responses for both internal and external changes.
The hormones secreted by your adrenals influence huge physiological processes in the body including the utilization of carbohydrates and fats in the body, to the conversion of proteins and fats into energy, blood sugar stabilization and even cardiovascular functioning. And there’s more than just that!
The adrenal glands are the major source of sex hormones and even your ability to develop certain kinds of diseases and how you respond to chronic diseases is influenced by the adrenal glands.
Now, that’s enough for the science lesson right? Here are the TOP 5 Signs of Adrenal Fatigue and what you need to do about it:
- 1) You Can’t Sleep & You Never Feel Rested
This tends to happen when your cortisol (the stress hormone) is imbalanced leading up to being wired after 9pm when she should be winding down.
The fix: avoid all caffeine (or at least in the afternoon/evening) as this is too stimulating to the adrenals. Additionally, caffeine can deplete magnesium levels which are critical for managing stress and healthy sleep. Ideally, you should be in bed by 10 p.m. and should stay asleep until 9 a.m. whenever possible. Avoid taking naps. And, here’s the big one — do not push yourself, and eliminate the energy drains from your life, such as negative relationships.
2) Craving For Salt and Salty Foods
As opposed to reaching for sweets, those with adrenal fatigue reach for salty goodness.
The fix: increasing health fats, complex carbohydrates and blasting your body full of plant-based vitamins and minerals will help. In addition, hydration is key and a little grey sea salt sprinkled with some water and lemon juice will help with hydrating the system and provide essential minerals.
3) Light-Headed When Standing Up Too Quickly
Sometimes when you’ve gotten up from your desk too quickly or from a downward dog, you feel lightheaded and that you may pass out.
The fix: take it slooooooow. Most protocols with adrenal fatigue encourage the person to slow it down so that the body can heal versus being pushed too it’s limits. You don’t want to add additional stress on an already stressed person and body!
4) You’re Exhausted After A Workout
In fact, you may not be even able to make it through your full work out. This may not be a case where your exercise classes are too tough. It may simply mean that your adrenal glands are sluggish and are not able to help you push through the workout.
The fix: similar to the above, you may want to restrict your gym or cross-fit time and focus on more activities that do not stimulate the adrenals. For example, a hike, yoga, walking or even low-impact exercises.
5) Your Cycle Is Off
Around that “time of the month”, you’re bloated, crampy, tired and irritable.
The fix: Supplement with magnesium. Magnesium helps mediate the symptoms of PMS as it takes part in the manufacturing of progesterone which is essential for women’s hormonal health. We are often deficient in magnesium especially if we consume coffee daily or live a high-stress lifestyle. Magnesium is considered a calming supplement and it may help with improving sleep and restlessness.
Other signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue are the following:
- increased effort to do every day tasks;
- decreased ability to handle stress;
- decreased sex drive;
- mild depression and anxiety;
- the inability to handle stressful situations, even the mild cases;
- if meals are skipped, the above symptoms increase;
- lack of focus and decrease ability to complete tasks;
- memory is less accurate and you’ve become absent minded;
- afternoon low between 3pm and 4pm.
So, now what?
Well, adrenal fatigue is not a highly diagnosed syndrome but as you can see, very typical everyday issues are a result of this “burn-out syndrome”.
I also feel that, beyond a healthy diet of healthy fats, carbohydrates and proteins along with vitamin and mineral supplementation, it is important to look at you lifestyle and the stressors in life that contribute the the issue of adrenal fatigue. This may be your job, your relationships and the unfulfilled desires in your life.
If you are need further support, as part of nutrition studies and certification, I have complementary consultations available to help you. You can read more about it here.