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Posts Tagged ‘adrenal fatigue’

good adrenal habits

Do you always feel tired in the afternoon, wake up groggy, or feel flattened by exercise? You might suffer from a common condition called adrenal fatigue, in which the body can’t respond properly to life’s stresses. Some other signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Insomnia, especially between 2 and 4 a.m.
  • The afternoon ‘blahs’
  • Cravings for salt, sugar or stimulants, especially in the afternoon
  • Lightheadedness upon standing
  • Chronic low blood pressure
  • Irritability and jitters when hungry

Thankfully, certain lifestyle habits are highly effective in helping restore your energy and healthy adrenal function.

8 lifestyle habits to manage adrenal fatigue

Below are eight lifestyle habits that can go a long way in supporting adrenal health.

1. Sleep. Regular, plentiful sleep is one of the best supporters of adrenal health. Even if you experience midnight insomnia or trouble falling asleep, it’s possible to create better sleep by sticking to these good habits:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night, no later than 10 p.m.
  • Try to get 9–11 hours of sleep every night; do it on weekends if it’s not possible on weekdays.
  • Avoid computer, TV, and phone screens for the hour before bed; this allows the brain waves to shift gears in preparation for sleep. (If that’s impossible wear orange glasses that block the blue lights these screens emits. Blue light suppresses sleep hormones and can cause insomnia and a disrupted sleep cycle.)
  • Eat a small snack just before bed that is strong in protein and healthy fat and low in carbs.
  • Avoid sugar, stimulants, and high-carb foods before bed.

2. Relaxation Exercises. Think relaxation exercises are ineffective? Think again! Create at least ten minutes of quiet, stress-relieving activity for yourself every day, such as lying with your feet up, meditating, or breathing slowly. In addition, when you feel tired, respect the message your body is trying to send, and lay down for a few minutes.

3. Avoid junk food and excess sugar. Whether donuts or fruit, junk foods and excess sugar put the adrenal glands in overdrive, effectively sending them into energetic bankruptcy.

4. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. Yes, that means coffee. Stimulants are one of your adrenals’ worst enemies! Like sugars, they drive the adrenals to work too hard, driving you into deeper exhaustion.

5. Gentle exercise only. With adrenal fatigue, prolonged, rigorous exercise will only drive you deeper into exhaustion. Try gentle exercise such as walking, yoga, or swimming. No matter what, avoid prolonged aerobic exercise. Caution: If you are exhausted after your workout, you overdid it.

6. Eat a breakfast strong in protein and fat, with no sugar or stimulants. Adrenal function, blood sugar, and energy levels are closely related. Eating a breakfast strong in protein and fat while avoiding sugars and stimulants allows the adrenals to get a strong start and remain steadier throughout the day. This can help you avoid the afternoon blahs and sleep better, too!

7. Take the stress out. Take a close look at what causes you stress, whether complaining friends, nagging bosses, or a crazy schedule. What stressors can you eliminate or minimize? Reducing stress is a huge factor in adrenal healing.

8. Avoid sugars and stimulants when you’re tired. When you hit the afternoon blahs, the first thing you might think of is a frothy cappuccino. However, that only serves to further bankrupt your adrenals. Instead, nourish your body with protein, healthy fats, and minimal carbs to support healthy blood sugar and brain function, which is what you really need to kick the blahs. Be prepared by having a healthy snack ready to go for the afternoon.

The bigger picture

Adrenal fatigue typically happens secondary to another issue, such as anemia, poor diet, hormone imbalance, autoimmune disease, inflammation, or micronutrient deficiencies. It’s important to determine the cause of your adrenal fatigue and include these lifestyle habits as part of your adrenal treatment plan –- with them, you will move much faster toward optimum health and energy.

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311 always tired

Do you feel like you’re tired all the time and depend on caffeine to function? Do you feel you always need extra sleep and never feel rested? Feeling tired all the time is a symptom of a larger problem, and a cue from your body you need to address an underlying health issue. A variety of factors can cause you to feel tired, however clinically we see some common ones pop up over and over.

Common causes of constant fatigue

Low thyroid activity. If you’re experiencing constant fatigue it’s important to rule out hypothyroidism, a condition of low thyroid activity that causes fatigue and many other symptoms. More than 90 percent of hypothyroid cases in the United States are caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s, in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s can be identified by positive TPO and TGB antibodies and should be addressed by managing the immune system, although thyroid hormone medication may still be necessary. Low thyroid activity can also be a result of other things, such as chronic stress or excess estrogen. Testing for TSH alone is not enough to assess a thyroid condition. For more information, read the book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian, and ask my office how we can help you manage low thyroid activity.

Blood sugar imbalance. Blood sugar imbalances are largely overlooked yet are a common cause of fatigue. Many people struggle with low blood sugar, high blood sugar (insulin resistance), or a combination of both. People with low blood sugar frequently skip meals, eat too little, or consume excess sweets and processed carbohydrates that cause blood sugar to spike and then plummet. When blood sugar is low people experience fatigue, lightheadedness, shakiness, feeling spaced-out and other symptoms.

Consuming excess sweets and processed carbohydrates and overeating may also lead to high blood sugar, or insulin resistance. People with insulin resistance often have difficulty falling asleep or sleeping well and frequently feel fatigue as a result. They also feel tired after meals, particularly meals high in carbohydrates.

When struggling with fatigue, you should always evaluate your diet and eat foods that keep blood sugar stable, and eat frequently enough to prevent blood sugar from dropping too low.

Anemia. There are many kinds of anemia, but iron-deficiency anemia is the most common. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a part of blood cells that carries oxygen. Low iron deprives the body of oxygen and hence energy, causing fatigue. A common cause of iron-deficiency anemia is poor nutrient absorption due to undiagnosed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, so gluten intolerance should be ruled out in cases of anemia. Other common causes of anemia are B12 deficiency, inflammation, or an autoimmune disease. It’s important to know which form of anemia is causing your fatigue as supplementing with iron when you don’t need it may cause toxic levels of iron. Although the body needs iron to function, in excess it is damaging.

Adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands sit atop each kidney and secrete adrenal hormones to help us respond to stress. Many people suffer from adrenal fatigue, a condition in which the adrenal glands produce insufficient stress hormones. Common symptoms are constant fatigue, low blood sugar, and low blood pressure. Poor adrenal function is always secondary to something else, such as chronic inflammation or poor diet. To support your adrenal health to combat fatigue, it’s important to find out what is stressing your body.

These are just a few causes of fatigue. Fatigue can be a sign of many different health disorders. Other things to consider are food intolerances, gut inflammation, hormonal imbalances, brain chemistry imbalances, dehydration, and of course lack of sleep.

Ask my office how we can help you manage fatigue.

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3 06 seven things cause adrenal fatigue

Feel tired all the time? You may suffer from adrenal fatigue, a condition in which the body has difficulty meeting the demands of everyday stress. Adrenal fatigue is often associated with too much stress from a busy lifestyle and lack of sleep, however other factors may lead to adrenal fatigue.

Signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches with stress or in the afternoon
  • Frequent colds and flus; weak immune system
  • Allergies
  • Slow to get going in the morning
  • Craving sweets and stimulants
  • Feeling lightheaded, shaky, or irritable between meals
  • Eating to relieve fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping; wake up at 3 or 4 a.m.
  • Dizziness when moving from sitting to standing
  • Low blood pressure
     

7 things that cause adrenal fatigue

Below are factors besides chronic stress and lack of sleep that can lead to adrenal fatigue.

1. Eating too much sugar and processed carbohydrates. When you eat something sweet or very starchy it causes your blood sugar to spike and then plummet. Your adrenal glands must then release stress hormone to raise it. When blood sugar swings up and down repeatedly it may fatigue the adrenals. Once people have adrenal fatigue they often suffer from low blood sugar, or reactive hypoglycemia, as well. Aim for a lower glycemic, whole foods diet that does not spike your blood sugar, as well as healthy fats, protein, and plenty of fiber.

2. Using caffeine and other stimulants. Caffeine, energy drinks, cigarettes, diet pills, and other stimulants cause extra release of stress hormones and can fatigue the adrenal system.

3. Overtraining. Exercise is vital to good health, but over-exercising can inflame and deplete the body, taxing the adrenal glands. If your performance during workouts is suffering and you feel tired, you may be overdoing it and fatiguing your adrenal glands.

4. Food intolerances. Eating foods that trigger an immune reaction can tax adrenal function. One of the more common food intolerances is gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats (unless they are gluten-free oats). Dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and yeast are other foods that can cause inflammation and fatigue the adrenal glands. You can do an elimination/provocation diet or a lab test to find out which foods you are sensitive to.

5. Gut infections. Many people have overgrowths of yeast, fungus, and bacteria due to poor diets. These infections lead to chronic inflammation both in the gut and throughout the body, which can contribute to adrenal fatigue.

6. Unmanaged autoimmune disease. More people have autoimmune disease than cancer and heart disease combined. Autoimmunity is 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). You can have an autoimmune reaction causing symptoms that has not yet been identified as a disease because not enough tissue has been destroyed. Unmanaged autoimmunity keeps the immune system on red alert, which can fatigue the adrenals over time. You can use lab testing to screen for autoimmune reactions.

7. Brain inflammation. Chronic inflammation in the body 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 secondary to something else. True management of adrenal fatigue requires addressing what caused it in the first place.

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2 52 cup of fear

Do you start your mornings with your treasured “cup of fear?” As far as your body is concerned, that lovely and seemingly harmless cup of coffee could be tantamount to getting mugged or running from a hungry lion. The physiological reactions caused by caffeine that jumpstart you in the morning are the same reactions triggered by fear.

Morning fatigue could signify adrenal imbalance

We are meant to feel rested and alert in the mornings. Waking up feeling like you have been hit by a garbage truck means you may have an adrenal imbalance. The adrenal glands sit atop each kidney and release adrenal hormones that help keep the body regulated during times of stress. Adrenal function also plays important roles in the sleep-wake cycle, so that you feel tired in the evening and alert in the morning, and are able to sleep soundly through the night. In fact, the health of the entire body relies in part on sound adrenal function: immune health, hormone balance, digestive operations, brain function, and more.

Depending on caffeine to get going in the morning is a sign the delicately orchestrated relationship between the adrenal glands and the rest of the body is out of balance. A morning cup of coffee stimulates the adrenal glands to release “fight-or-flight” adrenal hormones. This raises your heartbeat, dilates your pupils, tightens the muscles, raises your blood pressure, slows blood flow to the stomach, and releases glucose into the bloodstream. Together these effects on the central nervous system boost energy. The body designed this response to help us get out of a dangerous situation by either running or fighting. However, these days, many use the same response just to get ready for work each morning.

The downsides of coffee on health

As many know, giving up coffee is hard and can come with unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This is partly because caffeine also stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the “pleasure and reward” centers in the brain and is associated with addiction. This also means over time you need more caffeine for the same effects.

For the person suffering from adrenal dysfunction—producing too little or too much of adrenal hormone—caffeine can intensify your adrenal problems. Although it gives you energy, it’s a short-term fix with long-term consequences making an existing problem worse. In addition to taxing adrenal function, caffeine can cause sleep problems, irritability, anxiety, and high blood pressure. It’s also a diuretic that can deplete you of important minerals and electrolytes. A trap many coffee drinkers fall into is that the coffee makes them sleep poorly and they feel terrible in the morning. So they drink coffee to get them going, which again makes them sleep poorly, in a self-perpetuating vicious cycle that gradually worsens adrenal function.

Restoring adrenal function is foundational to managing many health issues in functional medicine, including chronic disease, autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism, obesity, blood sugar imbalances (insulin resistance or hypoglycemia), and other disorders. When you are working on restoring your health from these conditions, coffee can work against your efforts.

Coffee habit depends on health

This isn’t to say coffee is all bad. Although some studies show negative consequences from caffeine, others show its benefits. As with many things in health, it is something that must be considered on a case-by-case basis. If your adrenal and blood sugar function is healthy (you do not suffer from insulin resistance, diabetes, low blood sugar, adrenal fatigue, or hyper adrenal function), moderate consumption of organic coffee may be fine for you.

Ask my office how we can help you restore your adrenal function and kick your dependence on coffee to function.

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low blood pressure adrenal fatigue

We all hear about the risks associated with high blood pressure, but having low blood pressure can also pose health risks. When you have low blood pressure your blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients, is not being sufficiently pushed into the tissues throughout your body, including the brain. This means your brain and other organs are not getting enough oxygen to work as well as they could. A blood pressure of 120/80 is considered healthy and if the upper or lower number deviates by 10 your blood pressure is in an abnormal range.

Low blood pressure associated with adrenal fatigue

Low blood pressure is typically associated with poor adrenal function. The adrenal glands, which sit atop the kidneys, produce stress hormones and play an important role in regulating blood pressure. Many people today have fatigued adrenal glands thanks to chronic stress, poor diets, low blood sugar, chronic infections, digestive problems, inflammation, or other issues. Chronic stress from any or all of these factors may wear out the adrenal glands, causing adrenal fatigue. As a result, your body has a harder time maintaining health and balance through life’s ups and downs. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue may include constant tiredness, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and low blood pressure.

Feeling faint when you stand up

A common type of low blood pressure is a orthostatic hypotension, a drop in blood pressure when you go from sitting to standing that causes lightheadedness. For the person with orthostatic hypotension, standing up causes blood to pool in the legs. This slows the flow of blood back to the heart and decreases the amount of blood pumped from the heart. Medical professionals diagnose orthostatic hypotension when the top number falls by 20 and the bottom number falls by 10 upon standing.

Although lightheadedness is not cause for alarm, if standing up causes you to faint you should seek medical attention. Orthostatic hypotension also increases the risk of falling for elderly people. Orthostatic hypotension is common among people with low blood pressure and hypoglycemia, although people with high blood pressure can also have orthostatic hypotension.

What to do for low blood pressure and adrenal fatigue

If you have low blood pressure and suspect you may have adrenal fatigue, consider having an adrenal saliva test. This test measures how much cortisol, an important adrenal hormone, your body makes, and whether your cortisol level follows healthy daily patterns.

Although people with high blood pressure are told to avoid salt, those with low blood pressure may actually benefit by adding sea salt to their food.

Also, certain nutritional compounds have been shown to support adrenal function and thus healthy blood pressure. Because adrenal fatigue is always secondary to another problem, it’s important to find out what is taxing the adrenal system and address that as well. Eating a diet that prevents your blood sugar from dropping too low and causing symptoms of hypoglycemia is another important key. Strategies include eating a good breakfast, ditching sweets, starchy foods and sweetened drinks, eating regularly enough to sustain blood sugar, and making sure never to skip meals.

For more advice on supporting healthy adrenal function and blood pressure, contact my office.

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