Do you have difficulty getting up in the morning even after a good nights sleep?
Do you struggle with fatigue throughout the day and turn to caffeine and sugar to keep you going?
Do you have increased energy levels before bed?
Do you have an inability or decreased tolerance to handle stress?
Do you have cravings for salty or sweet foods?
Do you have a weakened immune system?
If you are reading this nodding your head saying yes to all or some of these questions, then it's highly likely that you are suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Let’s start with the basics.
Adrenal fatigue stems from prehistoric times when our ancestors faced REAL danger, such as being chased by a sabre-toothed tiger. In these events, the body would quickly switch to "fight or flight" to survive. During this state, the body releases excess energy in a short time to cope with the short-term stress. Once the danger was over the body would return to its natural calm rested state.
In this day and age, we don't face sabre-toothed tigers (thank god), but we are faced with endless to-do lists, the pressure of keeping up with social media, juggling work, kids, family commitments, running from one task to another, and always being on the go.
The problem starts to occur when these stressful circumstances accumulate and become part of everyday life causing us to be in a more permanent state of fight or flight.
Introducing the adrenals.
The adrenals are two small, but very essential glands that are hormone-producing powerhouses that sit just above your kidneys. Closely linked to the sympathetic nervous system the adrenal glands produce the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. In times of stress, the adrenal glands can't produce enough of these hormones to keep up with the demand and quickly become depleted resulting in fatigue and burnout.
It's important to note that adrenal fatigue isn’t a diagnosis you’re going to get from your doctor. There are three stages of adrenal fatigue, and if you surpass these three stages, you may enter an adrenal insufficiency, which is now something your medical doctor can diagnose.
Stage 1: Wired and tired
This stage is characterized by high cortisol levels, especially at night, leading to insomnia, insulin resistance and abdominal weight gain. People often feel energized but in an edgy wired way.
Stage 2: Stressed and tired
In this stage, many people wake up early in the morning (often around 3 am) and are unable to fall back asleep.
Stage 3: Burnout
This stage is characterized by exhaustion, regardless of how many hours of sleep they got the night before.
How to treat adrenal fatigue.
The best way to treat adrenal fatigue is to address the root cause: stress. Think about your daily stressors, how can you take health back into your own hands? If you suffer from adrenal fatigue, the most important thing you can do is to establish a routine.
Here are my top suggestions.
1.) Get adequate sleep. Seven to eight hours a night is ideal, and if you can get to bed well before midnight, you get extra points. Sleep is when our bodies do most of their healing.
2.) Schedule "me time" as part of your daily routine and make it a priority.
3.) De-stress. Whatever this may look like for you; practice it every day.
4.) Eliminate refined sugar and processed carbs. The problem with simple sugars is that they quickly spike our blood sugar, causing us to crash soon after. When there is no more sugar in the blood, our energy dips and we start to crave sweets because sugar is the fastest source of energy. This fluctuation in blood sugar can lead to metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and Type II diabetes. Because your adrenals produce specific hormones that are used to balance blood sugar, too many spikes can cause a ton of stress.
5.) Eat a clean diet of organic, fresh, plant-based whole foods. Load up on vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, beans and whole grains. If you eat meat, buy organic grass-fed.
6.) Don't limit your healthy fat intake. Healthy fats are essential for energy, which you need more of when your adrenals are burned out, and they can help stabilize blood sugar by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates.
7.) Don't limit your salt intake. Just focus on sea salt. Sea salt is rich in minerals to support adrenal health whereas table salt is stripped of its nutritional value. I like to add 1/4 tsp into my morning water.
8.) Kick the coffee habit. Caffeine is very similar to adenosine, a natural chemical in the body that stimulates our nervous system in the brain and promotes sleep. When we drink coffee, the caffeine fits into adenosine receptors in our brains and blocks the adenosine. As a result, we don’t feel tired. Hello coffee buzz! The last thing we want to do is add more stress by consuming caffeine, which ultimately stimulates our adrenals further and triggers them to release more stress hormones. Swap your caffeine fix for herbal teas, turmeric or mushroom lattes or coffee substitutes that don't contain caffeine.
9.) Use plants as medicine. Since the beginning of time plants have been used as medicine. Their medicinal properties can improve our health by aiding in the natural healing of our bodies. By supporting the adrenals with the correct healing modalities, we can increase our body’s ability to handle stress.
Here are my some of my favourite stress-busting adaptogens.
ASHWAGHANDA has immuno-modulating effects that boost and regulate the immune system and lower cortisol levels. It’s known as a calming tonic that reduces anxiety, improves sleep, and combats inflammation.
RHODIOLA contains the phytochemical salisdroside which helps resist anxiety and aging. Other benefits include suppression of the production of cortisol, increased levels of stress-resistant proteins, resistance to mental and physical fatigue, and protection against oxidative stress, heat stress, radiation and toxic chemicals.
HOLY BASIL supports a healthy response to stress and fatigue. It can provide mental clarity while nourishing the mind and elevating the spirit. It’s also used to boost the immune system, and regulates blood sugar, blood pressure and hormone levels.
SCHISANDRA helps balance hormones naturally and therefore improves our ability to deal with stressors, both physical and psychological. Schisandra helps nurture the adrenal glands and turns down an overproduction of “stress hormones” like cortisol. It’s also linked with better mental capabilities, physical endurance and metabolic health.
WILD OATS support healthy nervous system function and offer support for occasional tension associated with normal, day-to-day stress.
ASTRALAGUS increases the amount of anti-stress compounds our bodies use to prevent and repair stress-related damage. By reducing the ability of stress hormones like cortisol to bind to receptors, astralagus boosts immunity and shields the body from the effects of stress.
MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS including Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake have antioxidant properties. Each mushroom has adaptogenic, anti-tumor and immune enhancing properties.
I’m a huge fan of Botanica Health Daily Adrenal Support. It only contains five ingredients: Rhodiola, holy basil, ashwagandha, schisandra, and wild oats milky seed. This unique blend helps explicitly to nourish and strengthen the adrenals when the body is under stress.
You can find this product at your local health food store, or order online by clicking here.
For added adrenal support, you can also take magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B complex, and vitamin C.
Recovery from adrenal fatigue takes patience. Depending on your stage of fatigue, it can take anywhere from 3 months to 3 years to recover. If you need professional guidance, I offer one-on-one consultations. Click here to get in touch. Otherwise remember, finding balance is key. Slow down and listen to your body.
In love and health,
Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure. We are all unique, for your individual health concerns, it is essential to discuss these with a Holistic Nutritionist or relevant health professional.
This recipe was sponsored by Botanica Health, however all opinions are my own. I only recommend products that I know, trust and love! Thank you for your ongoing support – I know you guys will love this product!
For more inspiration and information from Botanica Health, check out their Instagram by clicking here.