You will have more than likely suffered from some level of this condition at some point in your life and even more likely you are still suffering from it right now.
What is it adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal Fatigue, otherwise known as 'Non-Addison’s Hypoadrenia' is one of the most under-diagnosed conditions and is a result of too much stress placed on the body from either a physical, emotional, or psychological factor or culmination of all. The Adrenal glands are otherwise known as the 'glands of stress' has the main role of secreting minute amounts of steroid hormones; the main hormone we refer to is 'Cortisol'.
If the body is running on empty in the form of hunger, tiredness or nutrition deficiencies, with continual demands placed upon it, Cortisol will be pumped from the Adrenal Glands at a higher rate, and over a prolonged period depletion or exhaustion of the Adrenals will occur. Over the 14 years that I’ve delivered Personal Training.
What does this have to do with your health and fitness?
If you are suffering from Adrenal fatigue you should consider doing something about it before it begins affecting your life severely. Symptoms include severe tiredness in the morning until 10 am and beyond, interrupted night’s sleep, changes in how your body metabolises carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It will result in the slow down of body fat being converted into energy and less absorption of nutrients from your food, especially protein and zinc.
You may even notice your body starts to change shape, and there are now numerous studies that strongly suggest a relationship between excessive blood-cortisol and fat accumulation around the midsection/stomach, this can be a classic tell-tale sign of the health of someone’s Adrenal Glands but only when it is correlated with the fat distribution around the rest of the body.
Furthermore, Adrenal Fatigue is often the root cause of many other issues that you may be suffering from, here is a list of possible issues that could indicate an adrenal issue:
- Inability to drop body fat
- Inability to gain muscle tissue or create a cellular adaptation
- Zinc deficiency - (telltale sign - vertical ridges on the fingernails)
- Stomach bloating or cramping - people sometimes mistake a food intolerance when in fact may be the stomach acids being down-regulated by the high Cortisol
- Inability to get up in the morning or severe early morning or early afternoon fatigue
- Reliance on caffeine / stimulants / High GI food / fruit juices / fizzy drinks / sweets
- Carbohydrate cravings
- Hypoglycaemia or pre-diabetes - High Cortisol can temporarily be suppressed by ramping up Insulin, this may be one of many reasons for your carb cravings, especially when you’re hungry
- Increased susceptibility to allergies - have you noticed an allergy you now have that you may never have suffered within the past?
- Regular almost periodic colds and flu
- Fibromyalgia can be a symptom of adrenal fatigue - again rule this out before taking medication
- Accelerated ageing
What causes Adrenal Fatigue
In a word; Stress, in particular, prolonged exposure to stress. Although you may not be aware that you are feeling stressed just remember it could be psychological, emotional or physical. Going without food for long periods of time will place the body under stress, or going without sleep for long periods of time.
Military / Ex-Military - you are guaranteed to be suffering from it and the more extreme your role in the forces the worse the condition)
A list of possible catalysts
- Lack of sleep
- Poor food choices
- Using food/ drinks as stimulants when tired
- Staying up late when the body is fatigued
- Constantly driving yourself
- Obsessive tendencies / consistent strive for perfection
- Lack of enjoyable/rejuvenating activities
- Exposure to extreme cold
- University studies
- Parents with little support, especially single parents.
- Unhappy relationship / marriage / friendships
- Extremely unhappy and stressful work situations
- Self-employed/new business venture
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Alternating shift work that requires sleep patterns to be consistently adjusted
- Any severe emotional trauma
- Death of a close family/friend
- Major surgery with incomplete recovery
- Prolonged or repeated respiratory infections
- Serious burns - including sunburns
- Sudden changes in financial status
- Relocation without the support of friends/family
- Repeated / regular exposure to chemicals
How many have you ticked?
If you can identify with the symptoms and you think you know the cause or causes, it’s now time to consider what changes you can make. If no changes are made then it’s likely you will continue waking up feeling tired, overly dependent on caffeine and or stimulants at various points of the day and potentially suffering prolonged periods of illness typically during annual leave or while on vacation.
- Start with a review of your eating habits. Do your best to have something that resembles breakfast if you are continually missing this meal. Just starting with a handful of nuts in the morning can give you the fats and proteins your body will appreciate. This is not the standard or the end of the journey, but it’s a good start if you’ve not been eating anything.
- Are you drinking enough water throughout the day? Try increasing the total daily consumption.
- Regular exercise each week - put the time in your diary so it becomes an appointment with you
- Find foods that boost the immune system
- Start adopting positive thoughts and feelings
- Put plenty of flexibility and stretching exercises into your exercise programme
- Getting into the fresh air when you can be a good thing.
- Aim for carbohydrates that sit on the low – medium range of the GI scale, ideally foods at 70 and under. There are numerous publications that will give you this information, and it’s probably easier to review the foods you are currently eating as the starting point.
- As an adrenal tonic, you may want to try a glass of water with lime and salt, do make sure you use a coloured salt such as Himalayan and use just enough that you are able to drink it comfortably.
- Vitamin C can help to bring cortisol under control and an even more potent approach would be to use a Holy Basil supplement in the morning. Holy Basil can act as an adaptogen to the Adrenal Glands.
This is only scratching the surface but hopefully gives you an introduction to a condition that may be holding you back in your career or your life.