Let´s see if this describes you at all….
6:00am- alarm goes off and is greeted with a puffy face and a slam to the snooze button. 5 minutes later your alarm screams at you once again and your growl and hit it once again. 15 minutes later you slowly sit up and rub your slightly open eyes and blindly walk into the bathroom and splash some water on your face to try to wake yourself up. You drag yourself into the shower and little by little you start coming to consciousness and wish you hadn’t had so much trouble sleeping the night before.
You throw on your clothes and by this time you are running late so you grab your things and rush out the door. On your way to work (or school) you anxiously rush through the drive-through and grab a venti caramel macchiato and a pastry or piece of fruit (if anything) to help wake you up before your day starts. You try to focus on your plan for the day but you feel ¨foggy¨and are unable to think clearly.
3pm comes around and you really crash, you need that mid-day pick me up and decide to reach for another large cup of coffee, soda, or energy drink to help you push through the rest of your work. For lunch (if you eat lunch at all), you eat it on the go or at your desk while you are multi-tasking. It is usually a microwave meal, maybe a combo meal from the nearest fast food restaurant, or a
compilation of snacks: a bag of trail mix( with salted nuts, dried fruit,& chocolate), diet coke, banana, a granola bar, and a ¨sugar-free¨ yogurt. Then its back to your crazy schedule as you struggle through the end of your day.
After work, you get home and unwind with a couple of sodas, beers, or a bottle of wine and decide you deserve to ¨treat¨yourself from your crazy day and you are too tired to cook, so you order pizza and for dessert you are craving sugar and nothing sounds better than a nice bowl of ice cream with your favorite toppings. 11pm rolls around and oddly enough, you can´t sleep! All day you were so tired, but your body won´t shut down now that it is time to sleep. You are feeling anxious and thoughts keep racing through your mind about the next day and all of the things you have to do. You finally drift away around 2am and the next morning it starts all over again.
So tell me…did that hit any trigger points with you?? Maybe you are a full-time mom and instead of rushing off to work, you are rushing off to feed the kids, take them to school, do the laundry, shopping, errands, pay the bills, then pick the kids back up, soccer practice, piano lessons, then back home to make dinner, clean up after dinner, play with the kids and struggle putting them to bed.
No matter what your role or job, the truth is that most Americans live a similar lifestyle to the one I just spelled out. This is why Adrenal Fatigue has been coined, ¨The 21st Century Stress Syndrome¨.
I want to tell you a little bit about our incredible adrenal glands, how they work, and why it is CRUCIAL to our health to take care of them and also teach our kids and family members to do the same.
What are the Adrenal Glands?
¨Ad¨-¨renal¨means over the kidneys, and that’s exactly where they are. We have 2 adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney the size of a walnut. There are 2 layers, the medulla (inner part) and the cortex (outer part). These glands are a major part of the endocrine system (which is the system of the hormones) and the sympathetic nervous system (or our bodies ¨fight or flight response¨). When many people hear the word, ¨hormones¨, they think of only women and the menstrual cycle. This is a huge misconception as we all, both male and female, are full of hormones and the delicate balance of these hormones dictate our health in many different ways.
What Do the Adrenal Glands Do?
Being part of the endocrine system, these little glands are mighty warriors. You know when you get scared and all of a sudden your heart is pounding, your eyes dilate and you can run faster than you have ever run in your entire life? You can thank your little adrenal glands for this reaction. The outer Cortex secretes the crucial hormones, Cortisol, DHEA, Aldosterone, and small amounts of estrogen and testosterone. The inner medulla secretes epinephrine (aka adrenaline) and norepinephrine.
Cortisol is essential for balance in the body as it influences many different life systems including blood sugar, metabolism, immune response, inflammation response, blood pressure, heart contraction, and CNS (Central Nervous System) function. The adrenal glands increase their production of cortisol in response to stress. If cortisol levels are too low, the person has fatigue, low blood pressure, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), poor immune function, an increased tendency to allergies and environmental sensitivity and an inability to deal with stress.
DHEA is the most abundant hormone produced by the adrenal cortex. It is a very powerful precursor hormone for our sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Some refer to it as the ¨mother hormone¨. It is a naturally produced steroid hormone produced in the body that makes us feel good. It helps balance out the effects of cortisol and is imperative to hormonal balance throughout the body. When it is low, it throws the endocrine system off and affects the entire hormonal system.
Aldosterone helps to keep sodium and water balanced within the body. When off it can lead to water retention and swollen tissues.
Estrogen & Testosterone are produced in small amounts by the adrenal glands along with the testes and the ovaries. When the adrenals are weak, it throws these hormones out of balance as well which can lead to symptoms such as irregular or absent menstrual cycles, PMS, low sex drive, inability to lose weight, impotence in men, and infertility.
Epinephrine (adrenaline) is what gives us that rush of energy when we need it. This hormone quickens the pulse, strengthens the force of cardiac contractions, increases blood pressure, dilates pupils, stops digestion, opens airways in the lungs and redistributes blood flow to vital organs.
Norepinephrine is also helpful in stressful situations but is more beneficial for concentration and focus.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
When the adrenal glands get used and abused for too long due to a prolonged stressful state , an acute super intense stressful event, or poor nutrition, the adrenal glands will become under active. The biggest marker of this is extreme fatigue that is unrelieved by sleep. The crazy thing is that many people don´t even realize they are fatigued because this state of low energy has become normal for them! This is NOT normal! There are different stages of adrenal fatigue ranging from functional fatigue throughout the day to one who is only able to get out of bed for a few hours a day. With each increment of decreased function of the adrenal glands, every bodily organ is affected. You may have poor digestion, decreased metabolism, weight gain, depression, decreased sex drive, fluid & electrolyte imbalance, and cardiovascular contraction issues.
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
As we saw, these glands are responsible for keeping the body balanced when stress occurs. If the body is constantly being stressed (it could be physical, mental, emotional, or psychological) the adrenal glands go into a state of constantly overproducing stress hormones. If the stress isn´t reduced, Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome or Adrenal Exhaustion will occur and you won´t be able to produce elevated cortisol when you need it! This causes an inability to deal with stress as well as a state of chronic fatigue.
A poor diet plays a huge role in strengthening or weakening the adrenal glands. These foods are detrimental to the adrenal glands: coffee, soda, diet soda, energy drinks, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, dirty dairy, gluten, and sugar (read labels!). These foods cause dietary stress. Gluten Sensitivity is a particularly damaging form of dietary stress that many people overlook.
Anything stimulating puts the body in a constant state of stress. We drink caffeine and sugar because we need a stimulant because we are tired, BUT, if we took care of our adrenal glands, we would not be tired in the first place.
What Are Some Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?
- You feel tired for no reason, constantly.
- You have insomnia at night.
- You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
- Chronic infections like UTI´s, frequent colds, or a frequent sore throat.
- You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.
- You have difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.
- You crave salty and sweet snacks.
- You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.
- You gain weight easily and have a hard time losing weight. Weight gain is especially in the middle section, and also in the back.
- Depression & Anxiety
- Irregular menstrual cycles, or no cycles at all
- Low sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low hormones in general
- Slow metabolism: weight gain, bloating, constipation, cold hands and feet, sluggish.
- Symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
How Do I Know if I Have Adrenal Fatigue?
Most medical doctors will not look into whether or not you have an adrenal gland problem, as most are not trained in adrenal fatigue. You will want to find a holistic practitioner, osteopathic doctor, chiropractor, or acupuncturist who will be able to look at your symptoms and offer you a saliva test which is much more accurate than a blood test in looking at the adrenal functions.
A major indicator of adrenal weakness is the fatigue issue as well as the above symptoms listed, so pay attention to your body and see what clicks with you. You can take a free self-assesment by clicking on this link: Adrenal Test
Now The Fun Part: THE SOLUTION!
This is my favorite part. We can talk all we want about a problem, but the best part is getting to the solution and learning how to get rid of the problem! There are TONS of companies recommending different supplements and products for adrenal fatigue, some good, some…not so good. I want to share with you what has worked for me after trying many different products and what has made the most sense to me after much research.
I´m going to get to the point and tell you what I believe is the absolute BEST thing you can do for your body, and that is starting to eat the Sunrider foods every day. You can read more about the foods on this site and contact me for more information- I have TONS of research from the months I spent investigating! 🙂 These foundational foods don´t only feed the adrenal glands, but strengthen the ENTIRE body, nourishing, balancing, and cleansing all parts of the body simultaneously. Follow this link to be directed to a sight where you can download two audio clips about sunrider and the adrenal glands! http://www.4shared.com/dir/PArl5cGT/Adrenal_gland_and_sunrider_foo.html
When you take a supplement just for the adrenal glands, if it is a high quality supplement and is absorbed by the body (many are not absorbed by the body, which means you are swallowing hundreds of dollars that is going from your mouth to the toilet), then it will act to substitute for the adrenal glands. This may make you feel better at first, and for critical people may be life saving, but it will not necessarily strengthen the adrenal glands, it may only be substituting for the hormone that you are lacking. The Sunrider foods go straight to the source and feed your adrenal glands to strengthen them and help them return to optimal function causing a healthy balance of cortisol when it is needed and the reversal of all the symptoms that come with adrenal fatigue. It will also strengthen your related organs simultaneously such as your thyroid, pancreas, and reproductive glands as well as the entire endocrine system. I don´t know about you, but I would much rather feed my entire body with one food product rather than taking twenty different bottles of supplements of isolated products for each individual organ that might not even be absorbed! (Been there done that…)
Second, lets talk about diet. Someone with adrenal fatigue really needs to decrease any and all stress on the body, so eating healthy is not an option, it is a MUST if you want to feel better! What many don´t realize is that WHEN you eat is very critical as well. It is imperative to eat before 10.00am. The sooner the better upon waking and try to eat a protein breakfast to avoid a spike in blood sugar. You should also try to eat a snack every few hours to keep blood sugar stabilized. Here are some guidelines of what to eat…
Foods to avoid:
- Caffeine found in: coffee, soda, chocolate, energy drinks
- Artificial sweeteners: aspartame, Splenda, saccharine, sucralose
- Processed foods
- Too much fruit (Stick to two or less a day and avoid eating them first thing in the morning to avoid blood sugar spike)
- Dried fruit
- Sugary foods
- Food additives, preservatives, colorings, pesticides, artificial hormones
- Refined flours: white flours, white bread, white rice, white pasta, crackers, ect…
- Fruit juices, sports drinks, any sugary drinks, even if they are natural sugars.
Foods to Include & Great Alternatives
- Lean protein: fish, organic chicken breast, lean grass-fed beef, bison, turkey breast (not the deli meat unless it is organic and nitrate free), organic eggs, raw high quality cheeses if you are not lactose intolerant.
- Lots of veggies, especially greens! Include some in every meal and snacks, the more the better!
- Sea vegetables are especially healing to the adrenal glands and the thyroid
- Low sugar fruits: grapefruit, organic apples, organic berries, lemons & limes, kiwi, papaya, and pears (Again. Go LIGHT on fruit, and when you eat it make sure it is organic to avoid added chemicals and pesticides which can wreak havoc on the body and cause weight gain and increased stress.)
- Legumes: homemade lentils, black beans, pinto beans, garbanzos, white beans, ect..
- Gluten free products: pasta, brown rice, whole grain snacks, tortillas, blue corn baked tortilla chips, gluten-free crackers, almond crackers
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Raw Nut butters
- Coconut milk
- Almond cheese or Daiya vegan cheese (SO good! Look at your local health food store)
- Swap out all salt for Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt. This is VERY healing for the adrenals, don´t worry about cutting back.
- Lots of water and herbal teas. Fortune Delight and Calli tea would be the best most healing beverages to work into every day.
Adrenal Recovery Soup
The following vegetable soup recipe has proved helpful in adrenal support. This high-energy soup, called “Taz,” comes from Dolores S. Downey’s “Balancing body chemistry with nutrition” seminars.
- 16 oz. green beans
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup tomato juice
- 1 cup spring water
- 2 tbsp. raw honey
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 cup organic chicken broth
Combine ingredients and simmer for one hour until vegetables are tender. Pepper to taste.
Along with diet, it is important to look at your lifestyle and see what changes can be made in order to decrease stress in your life. Something I really recommend is trying to do this breathing exercise throughout the day whenever you have time: breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 16 counts, and breathe out for 8 counts. Repeat a few times. Find what makes you happy and reduces stress and do it! You can´t afford not to.
One of the biggest challenges for me when I first discovered I had adrenal issues, was exercise. Not the problem of actually exercising, but making myself
slow down. A lifelong athlete, I loved to run and exercise daily, spending hours in the gym every day. Unfortunately, exercise can cause stress on the body as well when overdone. If someone has adrenal issues, they should be exercising for a max of 30 minutes a day and it should not be strenuous as this really taxes the adrenals. Don´t think I´m saying you shouldn´t exercise, light exercise is very healthy. Here are the BEST methods of exercise:
- Rebounding on a mini trampoline (you would be AMAZED at the calories burned and health benefits!)
- Toning exercises
- Light elliptical
- Weights (not to the point of being super strenuous)
- HIIT- High Intensity Interval Training* For those with early stages of adrenal fatigue
There you have it. I hope you are encouraged to take control of your health and get your life back. Sunrider has changed my life in so many ways including my adrenal fatigue. It is based on thousands of years of research, it is not a new fad, but a company with a solid foundation that has changed hundreds of thousands of lives over the years. I use these foods with all of my clients and all of my family and am SO thankful to have been introduced to them over three years ago. If you have any questions on Adrenal Fatigue, the Sunrider Foods, or if you would like support in your healing process and to join one of my health programs, you can contact me anytime at Jessica@JessicaAubreyRN.com. Have a wonderful day!!
In Health, Happiness, & Hope,
Jessica Aubrey, RN & Health Coach
I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.
~ Psalm 17:6