Just what is adrenal fatigue? You may have heard of the term, and it is actually somewhat of a controversial subject. Some argue it does not exist, but there is proof it does. This article will explain what adrenal fatigue is, its symptoms and causes, how to find out for sure if you are experiencing this type of fatigue, and preventative measures to take if you happen to become a victim.
The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system and are located on top of the kidneys. The main purpose of the glands is to release hormones in response to stress. This is done by synthesizing corticosteroids such as cortisol, as well as catecholamines such as epinephrine (better known as adrenaline).
- Cortisol – Cortisol is a glucocorticoid that is released in a response to stress and a low level of blood glucocorticoids. The main function of cortisol is to increase blood sugar through glucogenesis, suppress the immune system, and aid in fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism.
- Epinephrine – When the body becomes stressed or threatened, adrenaline or epinephrine is released. This is indicated by an increase in heart rate, constriction of blood vessels, and dilation of air passages. This is often referred to as the “fight-or-flight response.”
So that’s a little scientific literature to explain what the adrenal glands do, but what in the world is adrenal fatigue? Adrenal fatigue has never been medically recognized, but it is a common term in the alternative medicine realm. Simply put, adrenal fatigue is a term used to describe the belief that the adrenal glands are exhausted and unable to produce adequate amounts of hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine.
Think you just may be experiencing adrenal fatigue? Here are common symptoms associated with this condition:
- Trouble falling asleep at night or waking up in the morning
- Salt and/or sugar craving
That being, said, what causes adrenal fatigue? The cause of adrenal fatigue is not necessarily narrowed down to one specific thing, but is often a combination of more than one of the following:
- Not enough sleep
- Environmental toxins
- Too little cholesterol and/or saturated fat in your diet
- Excessive carbohydrate intake
- Excessive caffeine or stimulant use
- Zinc deficiency
- Sodium deficiency
- Reliance on stimulates such as caffeine to perform everyday activities
As with many conditions, stress is often a major culprit in regards to adrenal fatigue. Big changes in your life or a heavy workload could result in stress. Also, if your diet is crummy, it just may be the reasoning behind the onset of adrenal fatigue.
Still think you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue? How can you find out for sure? Often blood or salivary testing is an option at specific alternative medical practitioners to diagnose adrenal fatigue. Keep in mind, however, these tests are not backed with science since adrenal fatigue is not recognized as a medical condition.
What can YOU do to prevent adrenal fatigue?
- Take a break! This could pertain to work, school, the gym, etc. If you are feeling that you are just being overwhelmed and stressed out, do not be afraid to take a break. A couple of days, or even a week, can do the body wonders.
- Get some shuteye. Sleep is extremely important in order for our body to perform properly. Make sure you are getting AT LEAST seven sound hours of sleep every night.
- Clean up that diet. Make sure you are eating a well-balanced assortment of foods that include a good balance of proteins, carbs, and fats. Do not overdo it on the carbs, and make sure you are getting in some good sources of fats such as avocado, fish oil, olive oil, nuts, etc.
- Lay off the stimulants. Often our hectic lives result in the reliance on stimulants such as caffeine. While stims definitely have their place, if you find you need them to make it through the day, then odds are its time to wean yourself off of them. To prevent extreme side effects, slowly wean yourself off of the stimulants you are using.
- Take a good multivitamin. While a balanced diet often provides us with enough nutrients, it never is a bad idea to take a good multivitamin. This will ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.
While it has not necessarily been scientifically proven that adrenal fatigue exists, there is enough evidence to warrant the awareness of its possible effects. Hopefully by reading this article you now have a better understanding of the concept, and what to do to prevent it.