Adrenal Fatigue – Are Your Adrenals Killing You?

Every single day I see people out walking and jogging around the local area in an effort to lose weight. But did you know that if you have adrenal fatigue high intensity exercise can actually make things worse?

Adrenal fatigue is a big issue. People who suffer from it often start off in life looking good and feeling great. Then over time they start gaining weight in the mid-section, getting bigger and bigger, often with skinny legs.

There are two adrenal glands that sit on top of your kidneys. These are the glands that help your body adapt to stress. They do this by changing the physiology of your body to handle and cope with stressful situations.

Imagine a wild animal chasing you. What would be happening to your blood pressure, your blood sugar and your muscles? They adapt in response to cope with the event that is occurring in that moment.

Our bodies were not designed to live in a sustained state of stress for long periods of time, particularly mental stress! Over time, living in this state continuously will burn the adrenals out causing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

We go to our doctor for help because we’re tired and run down all the time, but testing is usually not helpful as the adrenals need to be around 95% unresponsive before this will show up in blood tests. So in most cases the tests will show that there’s nothing wrong and that it’s all in your head. My advice, don’t rely on a blood test, if you have most of these symptoms then you have adrenal fatigue:

1. You’re very dispersed, thinking all the time and often obsessively. You go from thinking about this then switching over there thinking about that, constantly mentally multi-tasking. While you’re in this state you can’t concentrate and focus. For example, when you go into a room, you’ll spot everything that is out of order because the adrenals are all about survival. On top of that, you won’t tolerate perceived incompetent, stupid and slow people. They will rub you up the wrong way, often for no apparent reason. 

2. You don’t jump out of bed feeling bright and well rested. You might have a wonderful day and one tiny action by a person or situation will haunt you at night because it’s a problem that just sticks with you. You ignore all the good things that happened and focus (sometimes sub-consciously) on all the bad, and those are the things that will keep you from sleeping at night.

3. You’re tired throughout the day and need to sleep following meals.

The adrenal gland is the survival gland. When it is in action, you’re mentally surviving in a state of exhaustion from constantly being on high alert and solving problems 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Solving problems is a survival action, so your adrenal glands cause you to fixate on problems constantly, and when there’s none there, you’ll find one! You might be that person who goes into a room and spots that thing that’s not quite right, a picture not straight on the wall, or dust in the corner.

One of the traits of being dispersed might be when a person is talking to you, but your mind is over there looking for things that threaten your survival, so you’re not really listening to what they’re saying. This is a huge problem in life for people, especially in work situations or when caring for children.

If you suffer from adrenal fatigue your tolerance for stress will also not be as high as it should be. So, if you tolerate stress well, then you probably have good adrenals. 

Adrenal fatigue causes numerous health conditions. Allergies and asthma for example, think about what is most commonly prescribed for asthma and allergies. Steroids! Anything that’s treated with adrenal hormones is an adrenal problem. Asthma, allergies, acne, blood sugar issues are all adrenal issues because stress triggers the release of insulin. You can become diabetic through stress events. More common symptoms are sleep apnoea and leg cramps because the adrenals cause you to lose potassium through your urine. Brain fog and hair loss (alopecia), in fact, all autoimmune conditions are triggered by the adrenals during a stress event and treated with prednisone and cortisone because they are adrenal issues. The adrenals control the white blood cells, which control the immune system. The stress hormone cortisol down regulates (switches off) the gene that signals your immune cells to make the IgA protein, without the IgA protein your immune system goes off-line, this is fine in the short term, but if you are constantly in a state of stress, disease will take hold in your body.

Stress and weight – beyond diet. If you suffer from hot flashes then you have an adrenal problem. The adrenal glands are the back-up gland to the ovaries during menopause. Other symptoms include, facial hair, sinus issues, frequent trips to the bathroom during the night and fluid retention. Cravings for carbohydrates and salt, because the adrenal glands turn your food and muscle tissue into sugar which raises insulin.

Insulin resistance in the body could be coming from a stress event as well. If you’re a mindful eater on a wholefoods, paleo or keto lifestyle and you’re not losing weight, then you need to consider the cortisol level connection.

More symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Loose collagen under your arms (bingo wings).
  • Memory loss – cortisol release decreases oxygen in your brain and kills brain cells.
  • Running out of breath/heavy legs/any time you face an incline you are easily depleted of oxygen.
  • Bloating, the release of cortisol affects digestion. The fight or flight mechanism shuts down a part of the nervous system that controls digestion, leaving you with a bloated swollen stomach. If you wake up in the morning with a relatively flat stomach, but by the end of the day you’re really bloated, then that is caused by adrenal fatigue.
  • Heartburn, GERD, acid reflux are all the same thing – Adrenal fatigue!
  • Low tolerance, flying off the handle easily and struggling to remain calm in stressful situations.
  • High cholesterol, low vitamin D, excessive brain stimulation, cysts, arthritis and immune problems are all adrenal. 

The body holds fat around the vital organs as a survival mechanism, it will eventually grab your butt muscles and turn them into belly fat! Yes, your butt will become your belly and then your legs will start becoming thinner because your body will rob proteins from your quadriceps. Your adrenals are very destructive, they break down proteins in your muscles and they convert it to belly fat – for survival…

If you think you’re perfectly fine then think again, stretch marks, bruising, buffalo hump – all adrenal.

Joints, arthritis, dementia, decreasing oxygen and causing plaque in the brain, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, blood pressure, osteoporosis and diabetes, all adrenal.

Obesity is not a disease. Obesity is a symptom. 

People who suffer from adrenal fatigue (autoimmunity) usually can’t calm down, which means they do not go into recovery mode, they don’t rest and digest and don’t bounce back so they can bounce out of bed feeling ready to take on the world. Cortisol is a dominant hormone. Even if you eat well, you exercise, you take vitamins, if your cortisol levels are too high it will nullify all the good things you are doing. It’s more about not triggering the hormone that blocks these in the first place.

So how do you switch it off?

Practice relaxing.

Remember, whatever you practice the most will become a habit, good or bad. Turn off your TV. Turn down your lights at night time. Find someone who can teach you how to meditate.

Get some exercise.

Low intensity exercise like walking for example, remember, cortisol depletes oxygen to your brain, so try a little gentle yoga, floating around in water or simple muscle stretching instead. High intensity exercise will cause more stress to your body, so be kind to yourself and incorporate gentle movement instead, this will encourage deep gentle breaths in and out which will release acids and increase oxygen to your body and brain.

People unknowingly cause others stress.

Get rid of any friends who cause you stress or chat to them about it. Find a way to deal with others who you can’t get rid of.

Change your attitude about the things you can’t change.

It sounds simple but knowing what is, and is not, your problem can instantly take a load off your plate.

Alter your environment.

Get outside, get some space and some fresh air. Read a book in the daylight instead of looking at a screen in the dark.

Processed food is a big issue.

Raw honey, dates, pure maple syrup and fresh fruits are not sugar, do not eliminate these. Before you buy, ask yourself: was it manufactured, or did it grow? Then check, is it still natural or what has been done to it since it was harvested?

Potassium!

Potassium will help you sleep. Consider a diet high in potassium, bananas and avocado are very high in potassium for example. Always talk to a professional before supplementing as this may be harmful to some people. Other safe useful supplements are vitamin C and a good quality natural multi-vitamin, you can buy these specific to men and women. Always remember, you cannot supplement your way out of a bad diet, supplements are only helpful if taken as part of a healthy wholefoods diet.

Eat 3 good quality meals a day.

80% plants + 15% fats and protein + 5% wiggle room (unprocessed wiggle room), this will help bring your insulin levels down. Avoid alcohol (as good as it is!) Try not to snack between meals if you can. This will rest your digestive system. Drink plenty of water between meals and add a tiny pinch of pink salt to turn it into mineral water. Pink salt is pink because of the magnesium it contains. Just few grains that you can pinch between two fingers, if your water tastes salty you’ve added too much. Adding this salt to your water will ensure the minerals make it around to all of your cells before leaving your body.

Most of all, have faith in your body’s ability to heal itself if given the right tools to do so. 

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