Adrenal Fatigue: Stress and Cortisol Control
The medical community does not recognize adrenal fatigue as a real condition – but if you suffer from it, you may beg to differ.
- Do you have trouble falling asleep?
- Are you restless, stressed-out and reliant on caffeine to make it through the day?
- Do you feel unable to cope with stressful situations?
If so, you could be suffering from a condition that most doctors won’t acknowledge.
That is because there are no tests to prove it, no scientific evidence of its existence and treatment can be costly because insurance companies probably won’t cover the costs – if your doctor could even come up with a remedy.
It is called adrenal fatigue and if you suffer from it, then you know how real it is.
Here are some of the symptoms:
- Feeling run-down
- Difficulty keeping up with everyday life
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble waking
- An unusual craving for salty or sugary foods
- Body aches
- Loss of body hair
- Low blood pressure
- Unplanned weight loss
- Problems with digestion
All that said, these symptoms are non-specific and could be attributed to any number of other ailments. In fact, adrenal fatigue could itself be a symptom of fibromyalgia or depression. If you experience any of these symptoms, then you should see your doctor.
Glands on the Run
More readily explained and easier to diagnose is a condition called adrenal insufficiency. This malady is caused by insufficient production of hormones, which are normally released in response to stress in order to lessen the impact of stress on your body. If you aren’t getting enough of these hormones, stress will wear you down and cause physical illness. Simple blood tests and stimulation testing can reveal any decrease in the level of adrenal hormones.
Your body operates on a fight-or-flight system that is governed by adrenal hormones. The theory behind adrenal fatigue is that it is a milder case of adrenal insufficiency. When you are constantly under stress, the adrenal glands simply can’t keep up with producing enough feel-good hormones to balance out the trauma.
Standard blood tests cannot detect this mostly small decrease in hormone production – but your body detects it just fine!
You are not alone. Adrenal fatigue affects 80% of Americans just like you at some time in their lives – especially folks 40 years and older.
Other triggers for adrenal fatigue include our high-sugar diet, the rise of pesticides and chemical pollutants in our foods, intolerance to certain foods, and our sedentary lifestyles. Combine these factors with hormonal decline (which many of us are experiencing earlier and earlier these days), and you have a recipe for fatigue, sickness and loss of vitality.
Two of the major hormones that help reduce stress and its impact on your body are adrenalin and epinephrine. In a fight or flight scenario, these two hormones increase blood pressure and blood sugar to give you energy for coping with that stressful situation. When your adrenal glands malfunction and resources deplete, you become unable to handle stress and everyday life in general.
Of course, it is natural for hormone production to decrease with age, but if you are under regular stress, it can decrease much faster than normal. One hormone in particular will be especially missed when its production declines…
If your cortisol level is low, then you have fatigue, hypoglycemia, poor immune function, an increased tendency to allergies and environmental sensitivity, as well as an inability to deal with stress.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that keeps blood sugar levels normal and is a natural stress fighter. It also works closely with your pancreas to give your cells the energy they need to function properly and allow you to take control of your daily life. Plus, it is a super-strong anti-inflammatory element that is released when you get hurt.
Cortisol rushes to the area of trauma and helps keep swelling down to repair the injury. The more traumas you have, the more cortisol is released.
Unfortunately, when your adrenal glands slow down hormone production, cortisol goes with it. This can result in erratic spikes of cortisol at inappropriate times. If this continues to happen more and more frequently, it will eventually lead to burnout.
Listed below are some commonly reported symptoms caused by high cortisol:
- Rapid weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Muscle weakness
- Mood swings, anxiety and depression
- Impaired cognitive function (fuzzy brain)
- Dampened thyroid function
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Poor sleep
- Lowered immune function
- Slow wound healing
If you’re worried about your cortisol levels, it is generally accepted that saliva cortisol testing is the most accurate. It gives a better estimate of the cortisol levels within your cells, where the hormone reactions are actually taking place.
The Adrenal Fatigue Treatment Plan
The good news is we are here to help! In this article are some specific recipe ideas that can repair the adrenals and keep them running at tip-top shape so you can get back your life and feel good again. These can give you peaceful, restful sleep, decrease your nervousness, reduce aches and pains and help fix any digestion issues you may be experiencing as a result of adrenal insufficiency.
First, here is some friendly advice on how to repair your adrenals. Then, we are on to the meals…
1. Cut out the Big 3
Caffeine, alcohol and sugar only serve to damage adrenal glands. You should avoid them if you want to rejuvenate your adrenals. After quitting coffee, most adrenal fatigue sufferers report a more even, consistent energy level throughout the day, without any of the crashes associated with caffeine intake.
2. Add in the Big 6
Be sure to add at least 6 organic vegetables to your diet and eat them every day. You can even juice them to help cleanse from the inside out. The darker and brighter the better.
3. Clean up Your Liver
Toxic overload can burden your liver, triggering adrenal fatigue. A warm cup of water mixed with the juice from half an organic lemon is an easy and natural way to cleanse your liver and put you on the road to recovery.
4. Unlock Stress with Moderate Exercise
One of the most common reasons we give for not exercising is the stress of daily life. However, research shows that exercise is one of the first things we should turn to when we’re feeling stressed. Physical activity can help improve our mood and relieve anxiety associated with adrenal fatigue.
Exercise in moderation until you get tired. This will serve to keep things moving in your body and allow it to repair itself.
5. Start the Adrenal-Supportive Diet Plan
- Be sure to eat regularly, 3 good healthy meals a day, or better still: 5-6 smaller meals. And NEVER skip breakfast. Those who suffer from adrenal fatigue struggle to maintain optimal blood sugar levels throughout the day. This is because cortisol is intimately involved with blood sugar stability. Focus on eating small meals throughout the day to reduce food cravings and blood sugar crashes.
- Make sure to get plenty of healthy protein because it contains amino acids that restore adrenals.
- Identify food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances. They prevent the gut from digesting and excreting your food properly. If your body isn’t optimally digesting all the nutrients in your foods, you become weakened and lacking energy as well as troubled in your gut and immune system.
Also, be sure you are supplementing properly for adrenal repair. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a regimen. For naturally treating adrenal fatigue, take:
- 1000-5000 mg vitamin C (involved in the production of cortisol in your adrenals)
- One 400 IU gel-cap of vitamin E per day (to absorb and neutralize damaging free radical molecules inside the adrenal glands and elsewhere)
- 500 mgs or more of magnesium (helps to maintain energy flow)
- 50 – 100 mgs of B complex twice a day (Improves your metabolic pathways and boosts energy levels)
- DHEA – helps to neutralize cortisol’s immune-suppressant effect, thereby improving resistance to disease.
- Probiotics – 2-3 times daily and digestive enzymes with each meal to improve digestion
- Glutamine – Is an amino acid that your intestinal walls use as a fuel source. This aids in the repair and regeneration of the intestinal lining. Take 80 g of glutamine a day for 5 days, then to taper off to a long-term dose of 10-20 g. (A popular protocol pioneered by Charles Poliquin)
Following these guidelines can mean the difference between the healthy promotion of adrenal gland processes and a very nasty bout with premature hormone deficiency.
Grand Eats for Gland Repletion!
Now for some meal ideas that will have your adrenal glands back to peak performance in no time. These are healthy comfort foods that bust depression in the jaw, help repair slowing hormone production and get you back on track.
They are simple to prepare and bursting with mouth-watering flavor. Try them and in one bite and you will instantly know what I am talking about. You will think you are back in mom’s kitchen when the aromas start to fill the air.
Calorie for calorie, beans represent some of the best nutritional value money can buy. Beans are also brimming with fiber, folate, B vitamins and protein. They help release short-chain fatty acids that make your intestinal cells stronger, and assist with absorption of micronutrients. They can also act as food for friendly gut bacteria to grow and multiply. Bon appetit!
Black Bean Soup*
What you need:
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 7 cloves of garlic
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 cup rinsed black turtle beans
- 1 dried red chili pepper
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- Organic veggie bouillon powder or cubes for 4 cups liquid. (You can substitute organic broth for the water and bouillon.)
What to do:
In a large pot, sauté cumin seeds in EVOO until golden brown.
Chop the garlic and onion and add it to the pot. Sauté until the onions become translucent. Add 4 cups water and black turtle beans. Add the chili pepper. When the beans become somewhat tender, add turmeric powder and half the ginger. When they become totally tender, add your bouillon.
Top off the water and throw in the rest of the ginger and more turmeric to taste. Eat several times a day to build stamina and drain fluids from your body.
All the hormones made by the adrenal glands are made with cholesterol. You must eat cholesterol-rich foods like red and white meat and full fat dairy and eggs to produce hormones. This meatloaf recipes focuses on healthy fats and quality animal protein to support your adrenals.
- 1 lb lean hamburger
- 1 or 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup herbed salsa
- 1 cup Nature’s Path Organic “Mesa Sunrise” cereal
- Fine chopped onions & garlic
- 1 cup of chopped zucchini
- Fresh corn off one cob or organic sweet corn (quantity to liking)
- 2 tablespoons flax seed
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons wheat germ
What to do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a bowl except for the salsa. Scoop mixture into an ungreased 9×5 loaf pan, or shape into a loaf that size on an ungreased baking sheet or pan. Spread a layer of salsa over the top.
Bake about 1 hour @ 350 degrees or until beef is thoroughly cooked.
Serve with brown rice with a side of lightly sautéed, dark greens or brightly colored vegetables for a balanced, healthy meal your body will thank you for.
Healthy Hormone Production for Life
You do not have to live with adrenal fatigue or adrenal insufficiency. All you need to do is take greater care to repair your adrenal glands to live the healthy life you deserve. Regain lost energy, deal with stress and boost the feel-good hormones that allow you to wipe out depression and maintain your fight-or-flight system.
One more tip: drink licorice tea. It is excellent for repairing stubborn adrenal glands. Look for it at your local health-food store.
Your doctor may not recognize adrenal fatigue, but you and your body know the truth. Eat healthy, live well – knock out this debilitating condition and get on the path to balance.
How do you recharge your adrenals for lasting energy? Comment below and inspire someone in need!