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There’s significant buzz in healthcare concerning the common issue of adrenal fatigue. It is related to stress and negatively impacts sleep. Some studies show adrenal fatigue affects more than 60% of Americans and up to 80% of adults at some point in their life. Adrenal fatigue is linked to medical conditions including; cancer, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis.
Though the Adrenal Glands secrete a handful of hormones, they are critically important to one’s health namely:
Due to the Standard American Diet (SAD) being so high in sugar, carbohydrates and toxins, the body has essentially become acidic, toxic and inflamed. The inflammation typically begins in the digestive track initiated by the immune system. The immune system is designed for short bursts to defend the body against invaders or to repair damaged tissue.
In the case of chronic inflammation, this prolonged state carries its own dangers of breaking down tissue healthy tissue resulting in artificially aging the body. To counter this, the body secretes additional cortisol at all hours to reduce the inflammatory response. This is where we see major problems impacting the adrenal system.
The combination of today’s society placing more stress on individuals and unhealthy eating is creating an environment where the adrenal glands are over producing cortisol leading to depletion or adrenal fatigue. Stress and toxins compound this problem by reducing hormone production while also interfering with transmission of hormones in the body. There are other pathways by which adrenal glands become fatigued, though studies show this is by far the most common.
Constant stress, processed foods, sugary foods, GMOs, toxins, constant use of stimulants like caffeine, hydrogenated oils, caffeine, sugar, vitamin B deficiency – can’t convert serotonin to melatonin
Cortisol’s daily responsibility includes regulating our circadian rhythms [better known as our sleep cycle]. Our adrenal glands do this by releasing cortisol early in the morning to get us up and ready for the day. It is commonly referred to as the “stress-hormone” because it is also released as part of the ‘fight or flight’ response.
However, if cortisol is constantly being released to reduce inflammation, this subjects the body to a heightened state at night making it difficult to fall asleep. This also limits its impact in the morning making us feel tired all day.
Type 1 sleep disorder is the most common type of sleep disorder. This is mainly a serotonin or melatonin deficiency. Melatonin is the hormone produced in the brain that puts you in a sleep state. Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin and necessary for its production.
Serotonin – ‘happy transmitter’. Has many similar effects to dopamine though, different pathways
Adrenal gland health is very closely tied to testosterone production. Constant cortisol secretion negatively impacts testosterone levels. This drop in testosterone leaves a person feeling sick, tired and stressed. Additionally, low levels of testosterone are linked to erectile dysfunction.
If your adrenal health is bad, then your endocrine health and testosterone production will also suffer, which is pretty obvious as cortisol is the main enemy of testosterone. Impaired adrenal glands will make your cortisol secretion go crazy in the absolute worst times possible.
Blood sugar problems, insulin resistance, hypoglycemia
Low cortisol levels increase cravings as blood sugar drops
Brain fog, concentration problems
Difficulty falling asleep (you feel “tired and wired”) or restless sleep
Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Feeling stuck in the “on” position – overwhelmed and overdrive
Food cravings, especially for sugar, carbs, or fatty foods, and afternoon sugar or caffeine cravings
Frequent colds, infections
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes
Hormonal imbalances, PMS, fertility problems, menopause symptoms
Inflammation, joint pain, fibromyalgia
Irritability, anxiety, or depression
Waking up tired in the morning
Weight gain (especially that “spare tire” or those “muffin tops”)
Having low T3 & T4 production from the thyroid [hypothyroidism] is a good way to confirm adrenal fatigue. Incidentally, this reduction slows metabolism and causes weight gain. Other tests include testing cortisol levels at multiple intervals during the day.
B vitamins – these are precursors for serotonin and melatonin. They are identified as slowing hyperactivity in the mind.
GABA – low levels have been linked to addictions, anxiety and nervousness. This critical amino acid calms the nervous system. For maximum absorption choose phenyl-GABA to allow passage past the blood brain barrier.
Tryptophan – is also a necessary precursor for melatonin, serotonin production
Holy Basil, Reishi mushroom, Rhodiola rosea, Ashwagandha
Magnesium – stimulates DHEA production, B vitamins. Again, for maximum absorption choose magnesium glycinate. The glycinate has the additional benefit of independently reducing stress.
Fats & sugar are the body’s main energy sources. The body has 4-6 hours of sugar stored in the form of glycogen located in muscle and the liver. Using up these sources of sugar first thing in the morning forces the body to utilize enzymes that promote ketogenesis. If the body never uses up the storage, these enzymes become impaired. Nutrition professionals overwhelmingly suggest the healthiest diets are Ketogenic or fat burning for our main source of energy [they also provide most stable energy levels].
The Atkins diet works by starving the blood of simple sugars, so the body is forced to convert excess fat in the liver and elsewhere into glucose to provide energy, thus reducing body fat. If there is not enough cortisol production by the adrenals, this conversion of fats and proteins to energy will not take place.