Are you tired for no reason?
Still tired after a full night of sleep?
Feeling run down or overwhelmed for no particular reason?
Is it difficult to bounce back from stressful events?
Do you need caffeine to get you going and keep you going throughout the day?
Craving sweets and salt?
Are you more awake from 6 p.m. onward?
If you answered YES! to any of these questions you might be experiencing adrenal fatigue!* And, it’s likely messing with your lifestyle and weight loss goals.
Previously, we talked about the adrenal gland. Remember, that lump of fat capable of sending many hormones to the body and thus activating a fight or flight response? What happens if it gets overworked?
Hyperadrenia, or adrenal fatigue! This week Mark Kibyuk addresses adrenal fatigue.
Come by next week to learn strategies to combat the causes of adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal Fatigue: Part One
Adrenal fatigue is most commonly associated with intense or prolonged physical, emotional or psychological stress. Coping with the death of a loved one, major surgery, constant or repetitive stress at work, are some examples of stressors. Leading our busy, North American lifestyles I am sure you can relate to ongoing stress.
You can also experience adrenal fatigue during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections. You may look and act relatively normal with adrenal fatigue and may not have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet you live with a general sense of being unwell, tired or having “grey” feelings; the main symptom being fatigue.
Has your weight loss reached a plateau?
Are you struggling with giving in to constant cravings?
Do you lack the energy to exercise?
Is your sex drive in neutral?
Are your periods out of whack?
When you are adrenal fatigued your body cannot properly regulate the sugars and hormones that normally allow us to free the calories we have stored for times of prolonged stress, in addition you might be experiencing depressive symptoms. Despite your hard work and clean healthy eating the scale is not moving or you are not seeing body composition changes. Or your fatigue and depressive state is leading you to make unhealthy choices, and the lack of the right foods and inability to move your body is stressful in itself, continuing the nasty cycle. All of this leads to other issues as your hormones reek havoc in your body.
There are three stages of adrenal fatigue and there are ways to identify the stage you might be in.
Your body works a lot like your home alarm system.
Stage One – Alarm Response
Your home alarm is set and you are in bed, someone just opened the door, the warning beeping starts and you have a certain amount of time to put in the code before the alarm sounds. In your body this means danger has been sensed – your eyes tighten up, muscles receive more blood, sexual reproduction shuts down and you are ready to fight. Your adrenal gland is now sending massive amounts of hormones to your blood, warning every system that you are being invaded.
Stage Two – Adrenal Resistance or Cortisol Drive
You did not make it to the alarm on time, and now the sound is piercing in your ears and the phone is ringing. Why was the alarm going off? It is a moment of saying your code, all is fine, or all is not well, send emergency personnel. At this point your metabolism has switched to increase glycogen (stored sugar) to keep you running for long periods of time, your blood pressure will also start to rise due to salt retention and increased production of cortisol, your stress hormone.
Stage Three – Exhaustion
The police are now at your house. You have realized that there was an intruder in your home. The things that matter to you most have been taken and you have no idea how to put your life back together. You are a mess, physically and emotionally. Your hair is falling out, literally. Sex, what’s that? Weight is piling on. You are sweaty, have high blood pressure and your blood sugar won’t regulate. You are a mess. An emotional and physical mess. This is when you experience the collapse of cortisol and androgen pathways. You have lost significant amounts of sodium from sweating, decreased cortisol levels have dropped your blood sugar, and your insulin had spiked to effect your sugar metabolism. You can’t make energy so you make more fatty acids, weight gain ensues. The end result is dysregulation of hormones and an adrenal gland that cannot produce cortisol and other hormones.
If any of this is sounding familiar, then please see your health care team, including your doctor and natural health practitioner. There are several blood tests that can help identify issues, and your naturopath can test for adrenal issues and help you design a plan to move forward.
In the meantime, take this quiz from Adrenal Fatigue: A 21st Century Stress SyndromeTM, Dr. James L. Wilson, one of the best resources on adrenal fatigue. It might help you determine if you need to see your health care team.
Until next week,
P.S. Don’t forget to join us next week when we learn more about what to eat, what not to eat, exercise to do, and ways to distress to keep adrenal fatigue at bay.
*P.P.S. Please note the quiz and all content should be used as a guide, and is in no way a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue or meant to be a treatment plan. Adrenal fatigue is only one of many wellness issues and you should not jump to the conclusion of adrenal fatigue. If you are experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms there could be other reasons such as diet, lifestyle, chronic disease, an overactive immune system, allergies, food intolerances, and auto-immune conditions. Discuss your specific symptoms with your health care team.