The adrenal glands are small organs that sit just above the kidneys. These little glands are responsible for your body’s response to stress. They create, release, and regulate hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, which let us cope with stress.
The adrenal glands evolved to help us deal with danger, life-threatening situations, and times when we need to be quicker, sharper, stronger, and faster than usual. They are a large part of the fight or flight response which prepares muscles to move quickly and violently by shutting down unnecessary bodily functions. Heart and lung actions accelerate, digestion slows, tear and saliva production shuts down, and energizing nutrients are released for quick use.
Our modern lifestyle has altered how often stress factors affect us. We are not likely to be attacked by a tiger on our morning commute, wrestle a rival for dominance during a board meeting, or chase down a mammoth for lunch. But this doesn’t mean that the adrenal glands are less active.
Our bodies were designed to deal with short bursts of stress like those described above, but not to handle stress that doesn’t dissipate quickly. Unfortunately, we’ve modernized our stress along with everything else, making it more constant. The body also has a hard time distinguishing between life-threatening stress and any other kind of stress. The frustrating traffic during our commute, preparing and giving the presentation during the board meeting, our short lunch hour where we rush to down something, the responsibilities, the financial strains, and the deadlines all pile up and your body acts like it is in imminent danger all the time, no matter how non-threatening the source of stress, physical or emotional.
Modern stress is not the short and occasional thing our bodies evolved to be prepared for. It is frequent, prolonged, and often very intense. This overstimulates the adrenal glands, leaving them unable to meet our needs and resulting in adrenal fatigue. Add on top infections, trauma, poor diet, anxiety, depression, and prescription drugs and we have a recipe for disaster. These all can make it harder for your adrenal glands to keep up. So what are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue?
- Fatigue, even after adequate sleep
- Craving salty and sweet foods
- Unexplained pain in back or neck
- Inability to handle stress
- Low stamina
- Difficulty waking
- Normal energy levels arriving in the evening
- Impaired immune system
- Consistently low blood pressure
- Blood pressure drops initially when standing
- Foggy feeling, impaired memory, difficulty focusing
- Sensitivity to cold
There are many more symptoms, but these are the more commonly recognized. You can easily test yourself for adrenal fatigue by checking your blood pressure while lying down and then immediately upon standing. If it drops by quite a few points, your adrenal glands may be struggling. Here are a few things that can help.
Reduce Stress – Take some time and let some of your stress go. Breathing exercises help and so do yoga, meditation, and tai chi.
Sleep – Get enough sleep each night and take a few naps during the day when you can. This will let your body recover, catch up, and rebuild its depleted stores.
Avoid Sugar – Refined sugar and processed foods make adrenal fatigue worse as they cause sugar spikes that burn through cortisol.
Good Fats – Most hormones are composed of good fats that your body needs. Avoid trans fats, but eat healthy fats like those found in seeds, nuts, coconut oil, and avocados. Chia seeds are a great option and they are easily sprinkled into food.
Potassium Rich Foods – The adrenal glands produce aldosterone, which helps control mineral balance in the body. Potassium and salt levels can become imbalanced if the adrenal glands aren’t doing well. Go for seaweed and sea vegetables, sunflower seeds, almonds, parsley, avocado, garlic, and Brazil nuts.
Light on Fruit – Fruits contain a lot of natural sugars that can still cause some bumps in blood sugar levels. Stick with fruits that aren’t super sugary and contain a good amount of fiber and water to balance things out. Think papaya, mango, plums, pears, kiwi, apples, cherries, and a small amount of grapes.
Calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C – Vegetables and dark greens are a great source for some of the vitamins that will help your body heal, recover, and get back to normal. Carrots, broccoli, kale, parsley, oranges, turnip greens, and asparagus are a good place to get all three of these.
Magnesium – Magnesium is used in thousands of processes within the body and plays a part in the formation and function of hundreds of enzymes. Magnesium is important to muscles, sleep, and controlling the release of stress hormones. Magnesium is found in sunflower seeds, nuts, brown rice, wild rice, lentils, and peaches.
Sea Salt – Many people suffering from adrenal fatigue also crave salt. Our modern diet contains way too much sodium. It is a good idea to avoid high sodium foods, but still give yourself the salt your body needs to rebalance fluids. Choose a good natural sea salt with minerals and add it to your food as needed.
Protein – You need healthy protein to rebuild enzymes. Go for more plant-based protein sources and avoid animal protein as these can put more stress on your adrenal glands and kidneys. Go for seeds, nuts, whole grains, hemp seeds, chia seeds, avocado, legumes, and lentils. Deep sea fish are a good option for pescetarians and non-vegans. Warrior Blend and Classic Protein are an easy, vegan way to boost your lean protein intake.
Whole Grains – Avoid processed grains and anything made with sugar and white flour. Stick with complex carbs that come paired with fiber. This will release energy slowly all day, so your stamina stays up and you get less tired. Whole grains, brown rice, wild rice, barley, oats, and quinoa are a good source of good carbs. Activated Barley is a great addition to a morning smoothie to carry you through your work day.
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Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research.. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.
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