One of the most common diagnoses among women these days is adrenal fatigue. It’s often found in mums of young children, often found in busy professional women and always found in women who are giving more than they have to give…..because that’s what women do!
What exactly is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue occurs when our bodies are in a constant stressful state. Evolutionarily, our bodies are simply not designed to cope with stress 24/7. We are meant to go into the fight or flight stress response once every week or few days harking back to when a lion was chasing us across the Serengeti or when a big black spider took up residence in our cave (assuming arachnophobia existed back in the caveman day). We were far more concerned with the job of getting food on the table than anything else and get this….when the brood had been fed, we would sit around with our families or our girlfriends crafting tools or nice things to look at or sing songs and tell stories or just sit mindfully. Ok, I’m sure I’m simplifying it a bit here but there were no laptops, emails, mobile phones, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, greedy bosses, non greedy bosses, fashion standards to uphold, televisions, bills to be paid, food police, clocks or anything to stop us from just being in the moment. Nothing that caused us to be in a constant state of stress.
And that’s how our bodies evolved. It’s really only been the last 60 years or so that things have changed so drastically, particularly with electronics and the way they have changed our lives.
Lets just go back to the cave folk for a minute. When that big black spider did darken our cave door, and assuming we were arachnophobic, our bodies would release, through a complex cascade of hormones, a shot of cortisol which would make us act quickly to either run away from the spider or to whack it with a big stick and sweep it quickly out side for the birds – that’s flighting or fighting. We would get that rush feeling to shock us into an alert and energetic state and then after the event had been dealt with, we would calm down and get on with our lives.
But these days, unless we have stress reduction mechanisms in place, our bodies are bathed in cortisol all the time – until such time as they aren’t any more. And that’s when the real problems kick in. After a while, our body loses the capability to produce enough cortisol to cope with the stress. That’s adrenal fatigue and that’s when we stop coping effectively.
How do we fix it once we’ve got it?
Well the first thing I’m going to tell you to do is book an appointment to see a health professional whom you trust and whom you know understands this disorder. The next thing I’m going to say is to do these 5 things.
- Cut out refined sugar and flour from your diet. Speaking of the food police…..refined sugar is white sugar, brown sugar and the kind in almost any packaged or processed food. Rapadura sugar, coconut sugar, raw honey & maple syrup (real maple syrup) are not so bad but try and limit the amount of any kind of sugar and cut out the refined kind. Flour (pretty much any flour except coconut but especially wheat) has the same effect on your body as sugar does – it converts to glucose, and really fast and this does your adrenal glands no good at all.
- Cut out coffee. Yikes! Really? Yep, if you’re serious about removing adrenal fatigue from your life, you need to remove caffeine. It triggers your adrenals to release stress hormones and in your state, you can’t afford this. If you can’t cut out coffee completely, at least reduce your intake to 1 cup per day and make sure it’s made from good quality freshly ground organic coffee beans.
- Increase your Vitamin C intake. Stress along with exercise and illness mean your cells have huge requirements for Vitamin C. Your adrenals use loads of Vitamin C to make hormones and if you are not getting enough to cope with your bodies demands (i.e. stress, exercise and illness), you won’t be able to make these important hormones leading to…..you guessed it, adrenal fatigue. Use a good quality one that contains bioflavonoids so your body doesn’t have to work hard at converting it into a usable form. This one is great with the added advantage of being a whole food (no affiliation)
- Get loads of healthy fats into your diet. Quality extra virgin coconut oil (also available from here and this is another high quality one too!) and coconut cream, avocados, ghee, butter (grass fed of course), lard, duck fat, wild caught oily fish like sardines and mackerel and extra virgin olive oil are all good sources. And while you’re at it, make sure you have a small amount of quality protein at each meal too. Grass fed meats – especially liver, quality dairy if you can tolerate it – yoghurt is ideal and cheeses like ricotta, feta and goats milk cheese can be good too, eggs – especially the yolks, and wild caught fish – make sure they’re from a sustainable source of course. Try this chicken liver pate – it’s delicious and makes a great breakfast!
- And lastly, the pièce de résistance otherwise known as the piece that will cause the most resistance assuming I didn’t loose you at the liver bit! – reduce your stress. This will no doubt be the most difficult one to do. Without this piece of the puzzle, you wouldn’t be in this mess would you! Here’s a few ideas you might find helpful. You may even find a Reiki session beneficial in helping you to cope with stress. I can help you with that too.
There are plenty of other things you can do, mostly revolving around improving the quality of your gut bacteria. If you want to know more, make sure to pop onto my newsletter list and get your downloadable report which includes 14 ways to improve your gut bacteria. But make sure too that you get yourself off to a health professional – naturopath, integrative medical doctor etc, who can prescribe exactly what your case requires to achieve optimal health as quickly as possible. Every case just like every person, is different and will need individual treatment. Herbs and vitamins are often beneficial but self prescription could turn out to be an expensive waste and even harmful especially in extreme cases of burn-out.
And another option – here is an online course that my wonderful Kinesiologist Kerry Rowett offers which may be what you are looking for.
But be warned, recovery from adrenal fatigue can take some time!
It’s not easy but we must learn to reduce our stress load if we are to survive and thrive and find our natural groove in this world. It’s all about the way you look at it really. You can stress about it, or you can not stress about it. It will most likely happen anyway.
What do you think? I’d love to hear about your experience with adrenal fatigue. Any tips or tricks that helped you in your recovery – or obvious symptoms that were a tipping point for you? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments
Lots of love