What is Adrenal Fatigue
Updated: Apr 14
These days, many people, especially adults, are complaining about the common health problem that is fatigue and lethargy. When these symptoms are combined with others, such as lack of concentration, sleeplessness, difficulty in weight loss, restless condition, arthritis, memory issues, sensitivities, allergies, cravings for salty foods or carbs and sugary foods, weak immune system, it could signal Adrenal Fatigue.
Today, Adrenal Fatigue has become a very common catchphrase that is thrown around more and more. Patients are told that they should avoid stress and need to relax more; we have all heard that “stress kills.” But, the question is, how do we deal with this stress and how do we relax?
The answer to this question is simple
People suffering from Adrenal Fatigue cannot handle stressful situations. When the stress levels increase, high amounts of cortisol are required to deal with the stress. When the adrenal gland is damaged, however, it cannot secrete enough cortisol and this leads to adrenal fatigue. Therefore, it is very important to tackle stressful situations in order to avoid adrenal fatigue.
You can reduce stress by maintaining a proper routine:
getting proper sleep;
avoiding negative people, situations, and news;
surrounding yourself with positive energies;
and exercising daily.
Practising all of these allows stress levels to be reduced and allows you to live a happy and stress-free life.
Some people follow unhealthy ways to deal with stress that can get them in trouble. They smoke, increase caffeine, increase their sugar consumption and drink soda or alcohol in order to deal with stress. This is the wrong way to deal with a problem because these habits actually increase the risk of adrenal fatigue.
What are adrenal glands and how do they work?
The human body has an endocrine system, with the adrenal glands being the endocrine glands that are located on the top of both kidneys. These glands secrete hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are very important and control different functions, responses, and activities in our body.
The adrenal gland has two different points:
The adrenal cortex secretes cortisol, prepares the body during stressful conditions, controls responses, and regulates metabolism. The adrenal medulla secretes adrenaline, which also responds to stress.
Under stressful situations, these hormones play a vital role. When adrenal glands cannot secrete enough hormones then adrenal fatigue is the result.
Is Adrenal Fatigue a myth or a reality?
Some say that people who are under great mental and physical stress can experience Adrenal Fatigue, but that there is no scientific evidence for this terminology. It is said that adrenal glands can be affected but they can never be fatigued. When they don’t work properly, they are out of rhythm but not fatigued or tired. Scientific research has shown that this problem is more prevalent today than years before.
Another myth is that your adrenal system needs pills or supplements in order to work properly. The myth is that medication is required to fix the rhythm that is disturbed and it is done by exposure to sunlight.
The last thing that is considered a myth is that people think that once their adrenal system is disturbed it cannot recover. The disturbed rhythm of the adrenal gland can be set again by changing eating habits and following an adrenal-reset diet, getting proper sleep, daily exercise, and reducing stress.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
When the adrenal glands stop secreting hormones, or secrete significantly fewer hormones, this condition is referred to as Adrenal Insufficiency. When the glands produce large quantities of hormones, this condition is referred to as Cushing’s Syndrome.
Adrenal fatigue has a number of non-specific symptoms that are listed below:
Cravings for salty foods
Inability to get up in the morning
Difficulty in weight loss
Low sex drive
The sufferers of Adrenal Fatigue look and act normal with no apparent signs of physical illness; however, they have a general sense of feeling “off” or stressed, or complete and utter exhaustion. They often use coffee, energy drinks or sweet foods (such as biscuits or chocolate bars…) to keep up with tasks or to keep themselves active. About 80% of these people are experiencing Adrenal Fatigue.
Disturbed sleep that leads to tiredness in the morning and feeling restless during the day is in some ways due to adrenal fatigue. People experiencing Adrenal Fatigue often have cravings for salty foods. They want to salt their food even without tasting it. People with adrenal fatigue can also have thyroid problems and hormonal imbalance. Sufferers may experience difficulty in weight loss, with sudden weight increase and inability to reduce weight.
Poor and weakened immune systems can lead to infections and other diseases. The immune system protects our body from foreign invaders (germs) and when this system is weak it cannot work to protect us from diseases.
However, according to doctors, all of these symptoms can be the result of other health issues. That's why they don't consider Adrenal Fatigue to be a health issue as such.
Causes of Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands are working below their optimal level. When a person is continuously under stressful conditions, he can fall victim to adrenal fatigue because his adrenal glands become weak and they cannot respond properly. In stressful situations, the adrenal glands secrete hormones that prepare our body to overcome the stressful situations.
Today people are eating more sugar and processed food than they ever have. This can lead to adrenal fatigue because having more sugar in your diet can cause weight gain, which in turn makes the person stressful, and this stress can affect the adrenal glands, leading to the adrenal fatigue. Processed food should be avoided if suffering from adrenal fatigue.
The human body requires 7-8 hours proper sleep each day. If this requirement is not fulfilled then the body can suffer problems because our body needs to repair itself for the tasks it does. Proper sleep is the best way to repair the body. Otherwise, adrenal fatigue is the result of sleeplessness.
Exposure to chemicals and toxins
Toxins in our food, pollutants in our air, and chemicals used in our homes everyday are disrupting our adrenal glands and cause poor functioning of these glands, which leads to the adrenal fatigue.
Stress can have short and long term effects on the gut. Have you ever felt butterflies in your stomach when you sit an exam, go for a job interview or have to confront a difficult situation? That's a short term effect of stress. But when our body is exposed to constant stress it can have long-term effects on our digestive health. When health is optimal, our intestines which are lined with tiny gaps allow water and nutrients to be absorbed into the blood cells. When our body suffers from constant stress levels, the intestinal lining becomes more permeable, thus letting undigested food and bacteria through the lining and into the surrounding tissues. These particles can trigger an immune response causing widespread inflammation, sending out signals which can cause head-aches, bloating, food sensitivities, fatigue, anxiety, joint pain, respiratory problems and other digestive issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
A vicious cycle
Unfortunately, adrenal fatigue and leaky gut perpetuate each other creating a vicious cycle of stress within the body.
To be able to break free from Adrenal Fatigue, you need to address each symptom through a holistic approach. It takes time, but with the help of a qualified Health and Wellness Coach specialising in Adrenal Health, you can reset your adrenals and recover the healthy happy life that you really deserve.
In the meantime, grab this free guide giving you 3 ways to naturally get rid of Adrenal Fatigue.
And, if you haven't done so yet, join my Free "Beat Adrenal Fatigue & Thrive" private group on Facebook, where I share healthy eating and lifestyle tips, fun challenge and peer support in confidence.