Do you feel tired all the time? Your body may have difficulty meeting the demands of everyday stress because of adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue often comes about because of too much stress from a busy lifestyle and too little sleep, but other factors can also be associated.
Do you have these signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue?
- Tired even when you got a good night sleep
- Stress headaches, especially in the afternoon
- Frequent colds and flu, catching everything everyone else has
- Seasonal allergies or random allergy attacks
- Being slow to get started in the morning
- Craving sweets and coffee, tea, or soda, especially first thing in the morning or afternoon
- Feeling lightheaded, shaky, or irritable between meals
- Needing to eat to relieve fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping, waking up at 3 or 4 A.M.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness when moving from sitting to standing
- Low blood pressure
Seven causes of adrenal fatigue
Besides chronic stress and lack of sleep, these factors can lead to adrenal fatigue.
1. Too much sugar and processed carbohydrates. When we eat something that’s really sweet or starchy, our blood sugar shoots up, then crashes. This is because the adrenal glands are all called on to release stress hormones to raise the blood sugar level. When blood sugar levels swing up and down repeatedly, the adrenals get tired out. People with adrenal fatigue often have low blood sugar or reactive hypoglycemia. Aim for a whole foods lower glycemic diet that does not spike your blood sugar and includes healthy fats, protein, and plenty of fiber.
2. Caffeine and other stimulants. Stimulants such as caffeine, energy drinks, cigarettes, and diet pills cause the extra release of stress hormones and fatigue the adrenal system.
3. Overtraining. Exercise is vital to good health, but over-exercising can cause inflammation and deplete the body, taxing the adrenal glands. If your workout performance is slipping and you feel tired, you may be overdoing it.
4. Food intolerance. Eating foods that trigger an immune reaction taxes adrenal function. Many people have a food intolerance or sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and yeast can also cause inflammation and fatigue in the adrenal glands. To find out which foods you are sensitive to, you can try an elimination/provocation diet or a lab test.
5. Gut infections. Due to poor diets, many people have overgrowths of yeast, fungus, and bacteria. These infections lead to chronic inflammation throughout the body and the gut, contributing to adrenal fatigue.
6. Unmanaged autoimmune disease. You may be surprised to learn that more people have autoimmune disease than cancer and heart disease combined. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys a part of the body, such as the thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism), the pancreas (Type I diabetes), or the nervous system (multiple sclerosis). An autoimmune reaction can also cause symptoms not yet identified as a disease because not enough tissue has been destroyed. Unmanaged autoimmunity keeps the immune system on red alert, and over time, this state fatigues the adrenals. Lab testing can screen for autoimmune reactions.
7. Brain inflammation. Chronic inflammation from poor diet, chronic stress, autoimmunity, and other problems can inflame the brain. Common symptoms of brain inflammation include brain fog, low brain endurance, and slow mental speed. Ask my office about nutritional compounds and strategies that can calm brain inflammation.
As you can see, managing adrenal fatigue is about more than just taking adrenal supplements, although that may be helpful. Adrenal fatigue is always due to something else, and we have to find and address that “something” before adrenal fatigue can be addressed appropriately. By doing compassionate lab work in the Bennett Functional Medicine program, we can help restore function in many cases. Along with Kalish’s Functional Medicine approach, Dr. Bennett can help adrenals work better and turn you feel better.