Ever feel like you are tired but wired?! Feeling totally drained but cant sleep? Never wake up feeling refreshed? Feeling anxious or low?
You could be suffering from adrenal fatigue or ‘burnout’!! Adrenal fatigue is being hailed as the ‘21st century’ stress syndrome and it particularly affects women. However, UK doctors don’t recognise the condition until it becomes full blown Addison Disease (adrenal failure), making medical treatment or recognition rare. 2 years ago I experienced adrenal fatigue and researched how to naturally heal it when I wasn’t getting anywhere with the NHS.I suffered a relapse just before christmas because I started overdoing things again- lesson learnt! Adrenal fatigue is more common than you think, read on to see if you have any of the signs or symptoms and this blog could change your life.
The boring science bit….
Adrenal Fatigue is a stress-related condition that occurs when your adrenal glands, hypothalamus and pituitary gland (together – the HPA axis) are not functioning correctly. The adrenals play a vital role in controlling your body’s response to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol (the stress hormone!), DHEA and epinephrine, which are used to regulate your heart rate, immune system, energy storage and more. Our adrenals get weakened by overstimulation over a long period of time, e.g. from long term stress from jobs, relationship problems or even chronic disease. Eventually,they become so drained they can no longer respond effectively.
I knew something was wrong when I had a emotional breakdown in uni over the smallest thing (I usually cope very well with stress, in fact I thought I thrived off it, always having loads of things on the go). I was a Social Work masters student, running a full time business alongside, working out 9-10 times a week, following a strict diet plan. I thought I was in control. This was what life had been like for many years (not healthy!)…..i was fuelled by stress and the ‘fight or flight’ response for so long that finally my body started to shut down.
I did some research of all my symptoms (see the list below!) and went to the GP to ask about adrenal fatigue and how to heal it. The GP ignored my self-diagnosis, wanted to treat me for anxiety and depression….but I knew it was something different.
- constant tiredness
- lack of enthusiasm- feeling ‘flat’
- mild depression or anxiety
- inability to cope with the smallest stressful situation
- never waking up feeling refreshed
- losing strength in the gym
- lacking energy but having energy rushes late at night
- hair loss
- weight gain/ inability to lose weight
- low sex drive
- heart palpitations
- foggy brain
- increase in allergic reactions to foods (this was a biggie for me!)
- regular bedtime routine. The adrenals heal between 10-12pm and 7-9am. Now most of us don’t get the luxury of being in bed till 9am so the only way to address this was get to bed earlier
- Learn to say NO when you have reached your limit. People pleasers (people who say yes to everything regardless of how it affects them) are much more likely to suffer adrenal fatigue. Learn your limits, say no and put yourself and your health first.
- Do something relaxing EVERY DAY: a warm epsom salt bath, a walk in the sunshine, yoga. Self-care is important.
- Eat a protein rich breakfast within 30 mins-1 hour of waking. Great way to regulate blood sugar and keep it stable throughout the day.
- Eat a paleo/ primal diet with meals every 2-3 hours— no dairy, grains, refined sugar or legumes.
- Use pink himalayan salt on everything! Adrenal fatigue depletes salt levels so replenishing them is important.
- Eat chicken or pork liver 2 times per week– high in vitamin A for recovery.
- Take adrenal support supplement- Gaia Adrenal Support ideal.
- Supplement with magnesium citrate and 5-htp 1 hour before bed. This massively relaxes the body, improves sleep and boosts mood. Solgar are the best brand.
- Supplement with HcL. digestive enzymes help with poor digestion as a result of adrenal fatigue.
- Try to exercise in the morning. Exercise initiates a cortisol response so its better to do this at morning to reduce impact on sleep.
- Take vitamin C post workout. Helps to reduce cortisol levels.
- Overexercise: tone it down or stop altogether. If you are anything like me and couldn’t stop, weight-based training is more effective than cortisol inducing HIIT or cardio when you have adrenal fatigue.
- Exercise on an empty stomach- cortisol-inducing adrenal hell!
- Alcohol, gluten, wheat and dairy. Goes without saying. Allergens will place the body under more stress.
- NO CAFFEINE. If you think you have seriously got adrenal fatigue then not even green tea, cut it all out.
- eat too many nuts and seeds. They can impair thyroid function.
- eat low calorie or low carb. This will be a nightmare for the adrenals and will place more stress on the body.Apparently it takes the body years to fully recover from Adrenal Fatigue. I made such great progress I started to hit the gym a bit harder, not giving myself rest days, sometimes training twice a day. Stopped taking my magnesium before bed and all of a sudden…BAM! I had a relapse. I made this mistake once and won’t make it again!If any of this blog sounds familiar to you, don’t hesitate to make a change today. You can overcome this and feel healthier and more energetic again. If you want some help and support around a plan of action and meal planning for adrenal fatigue, book one of my coaching sessions or personal meal plans and I can help you get your life back on track.Love Natasha x
Credit for the science behind adrenal fatigue: www.drlam.com