While these symptoms may be due to a broad range of underlying conditions, they are all common symptoms of adrenal fatigue syndrome.
What exactly is adrenal fatigue syndrome?
When the body is exposed to stress, a cascade of hormonal changes occurs to cause the release of cortisol – our long-term stress hormone – from the adrenal gland. Normally, when the stressor goes away, the release of cortisol is reduced, and the body’s systems go back to normal.
However, many of us live in a constant state of stress from busy schedules, lack of downtime, too little sleep, poor food, etc. This chronic stress causes our adrenals to pump out more and more cortisol, and our bodies become more and more resistant to its effects. Eventually, this system burns out, and our cortisol levels become chronically low, leading to adrenal fatigue syndrome.
While modern day living presents us with a myriad of stressors, there are numerous things you can do to proactively mitigate stress and improve your adrenals. Here are our top tips:
-Sleep 8 hours each night. Sleep deprivation activates the stress response and causes an increase in cortisol levels (1). Check out 8 ways to achieve consistent, restful sleep here.
-Eat nutrient-dense foods regularly (greens, berries, nuts and seeds, colorful vegetables, avocados, salmon, etc.), and don’t go too long without meals – including breakfast! Eating balanced meals with healthy proteins, fats, and carbohydrates will help stabilize blood sugar and fuel your body with nutrients for optimal energy production.
-Focus on eating a higher protein, low sugar breakfast in the morning to help stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day. This will minimize blood sugar ups and downs that stress your adrenals.
-Exercise smarter, not harder. Keep intensity low to moderate and length of time to no longer than 20 – 30 minutes. Higher intensity exercise and exercise for long periods of time will only add to your adrenal stress and worsen symptoms.
-Take a pause. Everyday stresses from work, families, relationships, and social media interactions keep us constantly connected and chronically stressed. Even five minutes of deep breathing during the day can help you transition from the sympathetic “fight or flight” state of stress, and enter the parasympathetic “rest and digest” state of relaxation. Yoga, a hot bath, massage, light exercise, spending time outdoors in nature, and having a consistent rhythm are all great ways to help reduce stress as well.
-Because stress depletes our nutrient stores, in addition to eating a nutrient-rich diet, supplementation is helpful.