Table of Contents
- What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
- Modify Your Diet
- Improve Your Sleep
- Take Supplements
- Get Plenty of Light
- Have Your Biggest Meal at the End of the Day
- Keep Hydrated
- Ground Your Body
- Cut out Sugar and Caffeine
- Use Essential Oils
- Include Adequate Salt to Your Diet
In your body, the adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys and play a very important role in helping the body to adapt to stress. They produce over 50 vital hormones such as adrenalin, estrogen, testosterone, aldosterone, norepinephrine and cortisol that are extremely important for vitality and health.
Cortisol that is produced by your adrenal glands is a stress hormone, which regulates your energy and helps you handle stress. Typically, when you wake up in the morning the cortisol level peaks, helping you to wake up and as the day passes, the level decreases slowly and sinks at night enabling you to get a good night’s sleep. Cortisol also helps to regulate your blood pressure and blood sugar.
When your adrenal glands function efficiently, they help in making you more resilient and enable you to take on the challenges of life more easily. However, if you are overcome by chronic stress, your adrenals are producing cortisol constantly and over time, they can get burnt out. This results in adrenal fatigue causing the cortisol production to become irregular and your adrenals begin to struggle to produce the other essential hormones too.
Adrenal fatigue is when the HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal) axis is not functioning, which prevents the brain from communicating with the adrenal glands properly to regulate the cortisol levels. When you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, which can soon turn into adrenal exhaustion, the adrenal glands cannot turn off the production of the hormones. This could be due to various reasons including nutrient deficiencies, leaky gut syndrome, allergies, infections or the build-up of toxicities.
When your body isn’t functioning at an optimal level, there is more energy output from the adrenal glands. Over a period of time, this can result in adrenal exhaustion, when your adrenal glands are not able to meet the environmental demands. Adrenal exhaustion is an extremely serious condition which causes extreme fatigue, chronic inflammation, accelerated aging and the inability to repair and heal.
- Trouble waking up in the morning and getting started
- Cravings for salty and sugary foods
- Fatigue in the afternoon
- Low libido
- Blood sugar problems
- Headaches in the afternoon
- Trouble staying asleep
- Dizziness when you stand up quickly
- Weaker and thinner nails
- Chronic inflammation
- Finding it difficult to lose weight
- Getting a second wind in the evening
- Lack of sleep
- Poor diet
- Emotional trauma
- Working too hard
- Lack of exercise
- Too much of exercise
- Exposure to mold
All these factors cause stress and tax the adrenals and in the long run, cause adrenal fatigue.
Here are some tips and techniques that can help to heal adrenal fatigue naturally. You could work with a health practitioner to guide you through these techniques.
The key to healthy adrenal glands and to ensure that you have the energy to get you through the day is a good diet. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet with foods such as gluten-free grains, whole foods, healthy fats, wild or grass-fed meat, antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits, fiber-rich foods, fermented foods and natural sweeteners. This not only helps to heal your adrenal glands but also helps to reduce the symptoms of adrenal fatigue and is also beneficial for your overall health.
Eliminate refined carbs, sugar, alcohol and other foods that cause inflammation from your diet. If you suffer from food allergies or sensitivities, then it’s a good idea to follow an elimination diet. Some very important nutrients that are required to tackle adrenal fatigue are:
- Vitamin B5: Also known as pantothenic acid, this helps to boost the production of cortisol and is found in shiitake mushrooms, sweet potatoes and avocados.
- Vitamin C: This is extremely important to prevent your adrenal glands from producing high levels of the stress hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, spinach, cantaloupe, etc. are excellent sources of vitamin C.
- Magnesium: Magnesium can be lost rapidly due to adrenal stress and so, it is extremely important to include it via your diet with foods such as beans, seeds, nuts and leafy greens.
Sleep is extremely important, especially if you’re dealing with adrenal fatigue. Since the cortisol levels are irregular, you can have problems falling asleep and also staying asleep. This causes greater stress, which becomes a vicious cycle. Just the quantity of sleep that you get is not sufficient, the quality of sleep is equally important when it comes to balancing the cortisol levels. The point is to get into deep sleep very quickly and stay in this state for as long as possible.
Taking supplements can make a huge difference in the way you are able to handle stress and in dealing with adrenal fatigue. Some supplements that are beneficial for stress are:
- Magnesium: Magnesium helps to promote relaxation and calm. It is a good idea to take 400 mg or less of magnesium daily or you may have gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea.
- Adaptogens: These are great to regulate cortisol in both ways; if the cortisol level is too low, then adaptogens help to bring up the level and if the cortisol level is too high, then adaptogens can lower it. Adaptogens like ashwagandha are especially beneficial for treating adrenal fatigue.
- L-Theanine: L-theanine is especially beneficial to reduce your psychological and physiological stress responses and is a great way to promote calm. You can take L-theanine with your coffee in the morning for nootropic benefits (i.e. brain-boosting benefits).
Since the adrenal glands and stress hormones i.e. cortisol are closely interconnected, controlling your stress levels and managing it is one of the best ways to fix adrenal fatigue. Meditation is a fantastic method and among the most powerful ways of dealing with stress.
Meditation can help a great deal to normalize your cortisol levels and in the treatment of adrenal fatigue. A 2013 study revealed that mindfulness meditation helped to reduce the serum cortisol levels and also reduced stress in the volunteers. If you are new to meditation, begin slowly. Start with meditating for around 5 minutes in a day and then work up your way gradually.
While it can be quite tempting to stay in bed in a dark room, especially during the weekend, starting your day “nice and bright” may be the best mantras for addressing adrenal fatigue. Getting at least 30 minutes of exposure to bright light as soon as you wake up in the morning helps to begin your day on a refreshed and energetic note and also to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
Exposure to sunlight not only helps in boosting your vitamin D levels but also improves the energy-producing ability of the mitochondria to hasten repair and healing in the body. This helps to remove the stress from the adrenal glands and helps them to heal quickly. Vitamin D is among the best homeostatic regulators in the body and is a key component for the efficient functioning of the adrenal glands.
The best way to get light is by exposing yourself to sunlight; however, this may not always be an option, especially during the cold season. You can use the special lamps made for this purpose and look for a lamp that gives at least a light intensity of 10,000 lux and provides direct light from above.
You may have always been told that breakfast should be the heaviest meal of your day, and your dinner the lightest. Well, in the case of adrenal fatigue, doing just the opposite may be true and it may be beneficial for you to have your heaviest meal at the end of the day.
One of the best ways to treat adrenal fatigue is to get a good night’s sleep and following this, eating naturally matches the circadian rhythm of the body and prevents the hormonal balance from being disrupted and thus supporting healthy functioning of your adrenals.
So, how does this actually work? The levels of cortisol produced in the body are highest in the morning, which helps to keep you alert all through the day. Eating carbs can dull the cortisol response and so, having your main meal at the end of the day helps you sleep better throughout the night, balances the hormone levels and optimizes the adrenal function as well.
Also, your body takes around 8 hours to convert the food you eat into glycogen i.e. energy that helps you to get through your day. This conversion of food into glycogen occurs best when you are asleep and so it is best to have the largest meal of your day last. This essentially means that you wake up feeling completely energized.
Water is a very important component to balance the production of the stress hormone and when you are dehydrated, this will stimulate the production of cortisol. When you are stressed, drinking 8 oz of water can help to reduce the stress response and get your body back into rest and repair. Begin your day by drinking around 16 to 32 oz of water and then every 2 to 3 hours drink around 8 oz of water all through the day. You must have water equivalent to at least half the weight of your body in ounces every day. And, if you want to add more enzymes or antioxidants you could squeeze in some lime or lemon, apple cider vinegar or essential oils in your water.
Our modern world is filled with electronic gadgets and we are surrounded by toxic EMFs (electromagnetic frequency). The EMF causes the stress to increase in your body and the neurotransmitter functions get altered. It is a good idea to walk barefoot on grass, sand or dirt every day as this helps the body to absorb the natural EMFs from the ground and balance the electrical rhythms of your body.
Mobile phones can be a great cause of stress to your body, thanks to the negative EMF. Studies show that mobile phone usage increases the body’s inflammatory processes and stress response. Use your mobile phone as minimally as possible and when you do, keep it as far away from your body as possible and use it on the speaker phone mode.
Leading a sedentary life can create more stress. Light movement and low-intensity exercises are anti-inflammatory and heal the fatigued adrenals. Keep moving throughout the day by walking, playing a game, doing some light cycling, etc. Moving regularly can help to reduce the inflammation in your body and also help in boosting your mood.
Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands causing them to produce more stress hormones. And, if you are already suffering from adrenal fatigue, then this will overtax your body and lead to complete adrenal exhaustion and burnout.
High quantities of sugar will cause sugar imbalance in the body, which requires the adrenal glands to work overtime in order to maintain the sugar balance in your bloodstream. Eliminating sugar from your diet will help the fatigued adrenal glands to heal.
Using essential oils can help in treating the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. You can use essential oils such as lemon balm, lavender, chamomile, rosemary, rose, vanilla and frankincense. You can either mix them with a carrier oil such as coconut oil and apply them to your body or you can diffuse them in your home. Consuming 1-2 drops of essential oil mixed in water can also be beneficial. Essential oils of lemon balm, rosemary, frankincense and rose are great for daytime use, while chamomile and lavender can help you relax and sleep better at night.
Minerals are a very important component required for the production of stress hormones and the best way to boost the mineral content in your body is by consuming high-quality pink salt. Some of the best pink salts that you can include in your diet are the Himalayan salt and Celtic sea salt. Apart from salts, including foods like cucumber, celery, sea vegetables and fermented foods are a great way to improve your mineral levels.
Although adrenal fatigue has some serious effects and can hamper your daily functioning, following some of the strategies discussed in our article can help to heal you and rid you of your adrenal fatigue, stress and sluggishness for good.