I was tired ALL the time! For years I was too exhausted to go out with friends, take part in sports or get through a work day without it being painful. I knew this wasn’t normal but no one was able to help me. Doctors told me to sleep more and colleagues thought I was either partying too much or faking. Trying to cover up my exhaustion was emotionally draining too.
And then I discovered the powers of nutrition! I learned how certain foods were actually making my fatigue worse and, in many cases, preventing me from getting a good sleep! Through trial and error, I realized that my adrenal glands were overstimulated and that I was dealing with a hormonal imbalance.
Adrenal glands play a HUGE role in energy level and stress management and, by eating poorly, struggling to convince others I wasn’t a fake, and feeling guilty for not being able to meet with friends, I had actually worn them out.
The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of your kidneys and their historical role is to make sure we are ready to face threats. Prior to industrialization, the adrenals really helped people out because the hormones produced mobilized the body’s resources so that the person would be able to either fight a threat or run away and protect themselves.
Our society doesn’t really have the same kinds of imminent physical dangers as our ancestors. Instead, we face continuous stressors like work or school deadlines, family commitments, or even personal struggles that trigger our adrenals to constantly pump out stress hormones. This exhausts the glands.
In addition to stress, poor diets of nutrient-deficient foods, food allergies and sensitivities, chronic dieting and excessive exercise deplete our adrenals. When the adrenals are exhausted, the thyroid takes over but it can only sustain us for so long. When the thyroid stops functioning, we gain weight.
You could be suffering from adrenal fatigue if you frequently find yourself waking up at 2 AM and being unable to get back to sleep, you have cold hands and feet, you are exhausted in the evening but are wired if you stay awake longer, you just can’t seem to get enough sleep to feel energized, you need coffee to get through your day, or you feel dizzy when you stand up after sitting or lying down.
Adrenal health is absolutely necessary to keep your hormones in balance, regulate blood sugar, kick start weight loss and manage stress.
Start with a high-quality multivitamin/mineral complex, one that includes B vitamins, vitamin C and antioxidants. Avoid sugar and processed carbohydrates – these are not foods; instead, they strip your body of important nutrients and promote blood sugar imbalances, which then leads to more stress hormone production. Limit alcohol and caffeine because both can stimulate more cortisol release.
If you’re constantly restricting calories or trying out new diet plans, your adrenals will be working overtime. Low calorie diets make the adrenals think your body is in danger so they pump out more cortisol. More cortisol eventually leads to more fat production so if you start adding back calories, you could gain weight fast. Make sure you’re eating enough calories each day (find out more about metabolism here).
Finally, stress management is crucial! Here is a challenge for your this week: Take 5 minutes each day and sit quietly in a room, removing all distractions. (Lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to.) Close your eyes and focus on your body – don’t let other thoughts enter your mind. Focus on your breathing, your stomach, your joints, and everything else. Focus on how you’re feeling. Simply being present and not worrying will give your adrenals a big break!
Once you’ve mastered this, I’d love to see you take 30 minutes every day just to do something that soothes and relaxes you! After all, you totally deserve it!!