What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
Have you noticed you’re having a hard time waking up in the mornings even if you’ve had a great sleep? Do you ever have those diehard sugar cravings or salt cravings? Or, do you have a hard time bouncing back after that last bout with a sickness? If any of this sounds familiar, then you may be dealing with something a little more intense than random cravings and not enough coffee
In recent years, there’s been a rise of epidemic proportions in cases of adrenal fatigue. The medical community doesn’t quite recognize it as a disease but as more and more doctors are seeing cases of it, it’s definitely causing quite a stir.
Everyone has a set of adrenal glands and they hang out just above each kidney. If you turn around and place your hands on your mid to lower back, you’d probably be hovering over your adrenal area. They are a little funny looking. The right side is in the shape of a triangle (kinda) and the left looks more like a half moon. They’re yellow and tend to go unnoticed by most people. But here’s the thing—they control hormones that respond to stress, the environment around you and your ability to bounce back from illnesses. They balance everything even your sex drive. So in other words, they’re a real big deal! (For a more in-depth look at the anatomy of your adrenals, check out this article…It Might Not Be You, It Might Be Your Adrenals)
Have you ever wondered what causes adrenal fatigue? Here are a few different ways these little guys can be affected…
- Exposure to chemicals and toxins
- Recently suffered through an illness (or currently ill)
- Lifestyle habits, including poor diet, lack of exercise, or too much exercise
- Struggling with substance abuse
- Not getting enough sleep/under a lot of stress
- Death of a loved one, divorce or bad relationship
- Emotional trauma
Adrenals have a myriad of functions, but one of the most important is the production of adrenaline aka epinephrine. They also secrete the hormone that has the ability to raise blood pressure. Hormones are affected by your emotional state, physical wellbeing and psychological health. Adrenals regulate the energy production and storage and have the ability to impact immunity, heart function and even muscle tone. It’s crazy to think how little triangle and half moon shaped objects can have such powerful influence in our bodies!
When adrenals are functioning correctly, they meet a crisis such as an illness and release the correct hormone levels in order to help us deal with it effectively. If the adrenals aren’t working properly then insufficient amounts are released and we lapse into what is called adrenal fatigue.
Full-blown adrenal fatigue can often lead to the following symptoms.
- Tired for no reason even after a restful sleep
- Body aches/Trouble concentrating
- Decreased sex drive
- Moodiness and irritability
- Trouble waking up in the mornings—cue the coffee!
- Rundown and overwhelmed no matter how large or small the issue
- Hard time bouncing back from sickness–especially upper respiratory illness
- Tend to crave sweet and salty snacks—where’s the chocolate!?
- More awake after 6pm than any other time in the day
- Hair loss/muscle loss
You might read these lists and feel overwhelmed at the possibility of having adrenal fatigue, but take heart. There are ways to build your adrenals back up to healthy, properly functioning glands. Just imagine feeling like your healthy self again!
If you’re feeling like you’re experiencing adrenal fatigue, here are a few things to consider avoiding to help strengthen your adrenals…sugar, processed foods, excess caffeine, and hydrogenated oils. Instead use: coconut oil, avocados, fish and chicken and snack on seeds. Remember, a big contributor to fatigue is too much coffee…it boosts you up, but may be masking too many restless nights! If you’re feeling desperate for caffeine, you can always try switching to green tea. Not buying it? Then consider switching out only one of your daily cups of joe with green tea.
Also, handling stress may sound a little crazy in today’s world but it’s totally possible. Yoga is one of the most scientifically-proven ways to relax and center your mind and body. And, it helps give your adrenals a rest. Start with the 7-minute clip below. After practicing a few times a week, you’ll be amazed at the difference in how you handle stress, and your energy levels throughout the day.