Stress is a normal, expected part of the human experience, but it seems that we have grown accustomed to more stress than our bodies can manage. We expect stress at home, at work, not to mention on a global scale during a crisis such as the pandemic. While we’re doing our best to mitigate the effects of stress immediately, the long-term consequences start to surface after months or years of exposure to too much stress.
Add to that, if you’re coping with a chronic illness, the stress of it all can also wear your adrenal glands down. That means that your adrenal glands, responsible for the production of the stress hormone, cortisol, are overworked and might be producing too much of it.
What is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal stress, also known as adrenal fatigue, is a condition where the adrenal glands are overworked and unable to produce adequate amounts of hormones such as cortisol and DHEA. It’s often seen as a complex condition that involves dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is responsible for the body’s stress response.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue may include:
- Difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness
- Brain fog, poor memory and concentration
- Feeling run down or overwhelmed
- Heart palpitations
- GI issues like diarrhea, constipation, heartburn and indigestion
- Trouble falling asleep and waking up
- Salt and sugar cravings
- You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6 pm compared to the rest of the day
- Weight gain
Causes of adrenal fatigue may include:
- Chronic stress (physical and emotional)
- Poor diet
- Nutritional deficiency
- Lack of sleep
- Environmental toxins
How to Manage Adrenal Fatigue
1. Let your body recover with sleep
Sleep is your body’s much-needed time to detox and flush out all the remnants of the previous day, to help you replenish your energy levels for the day to come. At night, your body’s natural cleansing processes allow your mind and your body to balance your hormone production and recover.
To manage and truly eliminate adrenal fatigue, you need to ensure you have ample, quality sleep every night at the right time. A consistent sleep schedule helps you stay healthy and keep your body invigorated, without producing excess amounts of cortisol from being fatigued and burnt out.
2. Ditch sugar and caffeine
Stimulants that give you an immediate surge of energy or at least prevent the sensation of tiredness to develop, such as caffeine and sugar, can mess with your awareness of your own fatigue levels. These stimulants let you “push through” those stages of exhaustion and not get the rest your body desperately needs.
That’s why, once you’ve been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, you need to steer clear of sugar and caffeine. Listen to your body’s natural signals and rest when you need to. Start levelling out your own blood sugar levels with better nutrition, so as to avoid those cortisol-inducing sugar crashes.
3. Give your immune system a boost
If your immune system has been under too much stress recently, or if you’re dealing with a chronic health issue, your body is likely overflown with cortisol. To help your body recover properly and to support your immune system, you can use a combination of vitamins and adrenal gland-boosting nutrients.
Rich in vitamin C as well as drops based on healthful herbs, the pack can help your adrenal glands slowly restore their normal function.
4. Use Food as Fuel
Food should not be an additional source of stress for your adrenal glands. On the contrary, you should use food as your fuel, to boost your energy levels and to make sure that you can keep cortisol production at a healthy level.
Devise a diet plan or work with a nutritionist to create one for you. Focus on a diet that aims to recover your adrenal gland function and to make sure that you’re not overproducing cortisol. Balancing your hormones with the right foods means choosing nutrient-dense foods with plenty of essential minerals and vitamins that will fortify your immune system as well as your mental wellness.
5. Focus on your mental wellbeing, too
While we’re on the subject, as wonderful as nutrition is for creating a healthy foundation for a healthy mind, you also need to be mindful of your mental and emotional state. Introduce de-stressing rituals that will slowly aid your body in banishing too much cortisol and contribute to the normal function of your adrenal glands.
If the above suggestions aren’t helping you to manage your symptoms, the providers at Forum Health can help. Treatment approaches for adrenal stress can vary depending on the individual’s specific needs but may include:
- Advanced Testing – Our providers may conduct advanced testing including a hormone panel, adrenal saliva test, and the HPA Axis Dysfunction test to evaluate hormones and neurotransmitters and how well the adrenal gland and nervous system function.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy – Since adrenal fatigue is related to a depletion of hormones, it’s essential to correct these imbalances with hormone replacement therapy – a treatment that augments natural hormone production helping to restore hormones to their normal levels and alleviate symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
- Optimize gut health – Your adrenal gland produce stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) and when you’re in a constant state of flight or fight, your gut health is affected. Living in constant stress without properly managing it, can cause inflammation and damage your gut lining. At Forum Health, we work with you to improve your gut health naturally which in turn boosts your immunity and reduces adrenal fatigue.
- IV Therapy – Our clinics offer many types of nutritional IV therapies to boost energy, improve immunity and reverse vitamin deficiencies, so you can begin to heal faster.
- Diet and Nutrition Counseling – It can be hard to adjust your diet and nutrition by yourself. Our providers and expert health coaches get to understand your unique health challenges to create an individualized plan tailored to your needs.
- It’s important to note that the concept of adrenal fatigue is controversial within the medical community, and some experts question its validity as a medical condition. However, our expert providers continue to use the term and approach adrenal stress from a holistic perspective that considers the interplay between various factors that can contribute to the condition.
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