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Are You Suffering From Adrenal Fatigue?

Updated on June 30, 2014
The primary function of the adrenal glands is to release stress hormones
The primary function of the adrenal glands is to release stress hormones | Source

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Depression, chronic fatigue, weight problems, allergies, brain fog, and accelerated aging are examples of conditions caused by adrenal fatigue.

These issues are more common now than ever before, and their causes aren't always easy to pinpoint.

When you're under a lot of stress--or your stress isn't managed properly--it takes a toll on your adrenal glands. A diet that is deficient in certain nutrients also contributes to adrenal fatigue.

Many health-conscious people believe they eat a nutrient-rich diet and do a good job managing their stress when actually they're suffering from adrenal burnout.

You Need Healthy Adrenal Glands to Stay in Balance

The adrenal glands are your body's energy centers. They regulate your blood sugar levels, inflammatory reactions, and stress responses. Adrenals play important roles in the production of sex hormones, sexual maturation, and pregnancy.

Your fight or flight response is controlled by the adrenal glands. They produce stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, followed by calming hormones called corticoids that relax and put the body back into balance.

Stress is natural, but being in a constant state of fight or flight isn't. A continual, heightened stress response promotes inflammation, disease, and psychological disorders. A variety of factors that might seem unrelated to stress actually play a tremendous role in taxing your adrenal glands, making relaxation and hormone balance impossible.

Your Favorite Stimulants Are Causing Adrenal Burnout

Eating or drinking sugar and caffeine stimulates the production of adrenaline, after which the adrenal cortex produces calming hormones to balance them out.

If you continually consume caffeine and sugar-sweetened drinks or foods, this system becomes exhausted and can no longer deal with stress.

If you rely on coffee and sugar to get you through the day, this is a clear sign that you are suffering with adrenal fatigue.

These stimulants are popular favorites, but there are a variety of other stimulating substances and behaviors that mark the presence of adrenal burnout as well (for example, gambling and cigarette smoking).

Food Plays a Vital Role in Adrenal Health

Your Adrenals Need Nutrients

Minerals give your adrenals the boost they need in order to function properly. They provide the jolt that keeps the energy flowing.

Many of today's diets lack minerals and fat-soluble vitamins that are crucial to healthy adrenal function. Diets that include refined foods and mineral-absorbing grains--combined with a lack of nutrient-rich animal products--contribute to nutritional deficiencies that lead to adrenal fatigue.

Vitamin A is necessary to create stress hormones from cholesterol. Vegetable oils, used for cooking and contained in a host of processed foods, block the enzymes required to make this conversion.

Yawn! Healthy adrenals require sufficient sleep
Yawn! Healthy adrenals require sufficient sleep | Source

Sleep Deprivation Triggers Fight or Flight

When you don't get enough sleep your brain becomes tired and temperamental. Sleep deprivation impedes brain function, metabolism, and immune system function. Getting around eight to nine hours of sleep each night is important for adrenal health.

Short-term sleep deprivation has been found to lower glucose tolerance and boost cortisol levels. Staying up too late causes your stress hormones to remain elevated, making it impossible to drift off to sleep. A habit of staying up too late causes a continual release of cortisol, which leads to elevated glucose levels in response to what your body sees as a stressful situation.

Elevated glucose leads to fat storage, increasing abdominal fat and making weight loss more of a challenge. This leads to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and even infertility.

Intense Exercise Elevates Stress Hormones and Fat Storage

Aerobic exercise boosts adrenaline, which also contributes to increased body fat. Overtraining often leads to mood disorders, fatigue, and weight gain.

The idea that regular intense exercise is healthy is a common misconception. Strenuous activity is not natural to the human body and does more harm than good.

Intense exercise produces an adrenaline high that makes a person feel good. Those who exercise a lot may become depressed if they have to skip a day at the gym. Their adrenal glands become exhausted, and the adrenaline rush provides some relief.

Physical activity is important for good health, and many exercises relax the adrenal glands. Low-impact exercises, including walking, yoga, and Tai Chi, keep you in shape while supporting your adrenal glands. Try to leave behind the old way of thinking that says you need to exercise hard in order to lose weight and stay in shape.

Take Care of Yourself = Heal Your Adrenals

Adrenal fatigue leads to a number of serious health conditions, from anxiety and stress intolerance to hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia. Stick to a diet rich in minerals and fat-soluble vitamins, reduce your caffeine and sugar intake, get a good-night's sleep, and don't overdo the physical activity. Making these changes will help you to regulate stress-hormone imbalances that cause adrenal fatigue.

Do you struggle with adrenal fatigue?

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    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 3 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Thank you, MJ. I'm glad you found the information useful!

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 3 years ago from Washington State

      Yes, after taking the test, it seems like I do. Now that I know it is related to thyroid conditions I will pay more attention. Very helpful, thanks. Thumbs up and shared.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Thank you, Nicole! I hope it helps.

    • Nicole S profile image

      Nicole S Hanson 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Very interesting information. This is very helpful!

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      LOL Billy! I don't have the fan base that you enjoy! :) Thank you for the kind words, as usual.

      teresapelka: Oh, I don't believe that beer is immoral, generally speaking. Regular beer does contain gluten, however, of which I am not a fan. And from what I've seen, cutting out high-carbohydrate foods like refined grains and sugars provides the best diuretic going. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

    • teresapelka profile image

      Teresa Pelka 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      However 'immoral', with an adrenal condition I'd recommend beer. Beer is a diuretic.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No comments? What's up with that? Anyway, I have never had this, but you have done a great job of detailing the problem and your suggestions are very helpful. Well done my friend!