With the end of the year approaching, many of you like myself are finishing up at uni or work, preparing for the silly season and running around trying to get everything finished at once. The late night study sessions and early morning meetings tend to take its toll on all of us some way or another. To be perfectly honest, since I returned home from Africa late October I just haven’t been myself. I know my body well and can feel when anything is out of order. In my approach to find a reason or diagnose myself (like I always do) I came across Adrenal burnout, also known as adrenal fatigue.
Are you constantly exhausted? Irritable when hungry? Have low blood pressure? Dizziness when standing? Thirsty? Difficult recovering from illness? or Feeling overwhelmed? These are just a few of the signs of adrenal burnout.
There have been many speculations about adrenal burnout becoming the disease of the 21st century even though it is not a medically-accepted condition. So let’s look at the specifics…
What are your adrenal glands and what do they do?
Your adrenal glands are triangular glands which sit over your kidneys and produce the hormones adrenaline, cortisol, DHEA, aldosterone, oestrogen, and testosterone. These hormones power the body to respond to physical stressors. They produce cortisol- moving it from a state of alarm (you may of have heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response) to resistance, and finally exhaustion.
What is adrenal burnout?
When the adrenal glands are under stress extra cortisol is produced. This then can elevate blood sugar, blood pressure and diminish the body’s immune responses. Even more, additional cortisol increases weight gain and can sometimes onset metabolic syndrome. Once this stress continues the adrenal glands then lose the ability to produce enough cortisol, giving your body the feel of being worn out.
What to do?
Some people with adrenal burn out and exhaustion may be prescribed antidepressants, but before heading to the band-aid fix there are a number of things you can try to improve your adrenal health.
Stay away from caffeine – this keeps your adrenal glands working and can exhaust them even more.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals – this will help you stay clear from stress stimulated sugar cravings.
Review your diet – leave out the white foods (pasta, flour, potatoes), they make a quick rising surge of sugar in the body. Eat wholegrain, low GI, and regular amounts of protein.
Vitamin C – this keeps your adrenal glands functioning. When your stressed you are more likely to lose it through urine as its water-soluble.
Vitamin B5 – deficiency in this causes the adrenal glands to shrink, so make sure it is incorporated in your diet.
Herbal remedies – several articles suggest Korean ginseng, Siberian ginseng, and Rhodiola for adrenal exhaustion (no harm in giving it a go).
Stay calm, cool and collective – Take a look at your lifestyle and make some re-adjustments, make time for relaxation, get proper sleep, exercise and make sure you have social time and you’re not ‘all work no play’.
I hope this time of the year doesn’t get too stressful for you all and everyone has a nice and relaxing break over the Christmas/ new year break.
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Eat Healthy. Live Happy. Get Fit.