Do I have adrenal fatigue?
Your adrenal glands allow your body to deal with stress. Physical, mental or emotional stress can all impact our health and well-being. Long-term stress of any kind can make it difficult for your adrenals to function. It’s important to expand on what we mean by stress. It’s not just deadlines, excessive demands, relationship and family stresses. It is also physical - nutrient deficiencies, food intolerances, low-level infections, illness, thyroid dysfunction, lack of sleep can all put undue stress on our adrenals.
The term adrenal fatigue suggests that they are completely shot which would leave you unable to get out of bed - adrenal dysfunction is a better term to describe what many people experience today. It’s rare to find an adult client who doesn’t have some degree of adrenal dysfunction. It’s endemic in the UK today.
How do you know if your adrenals are struggling to adapt?
Often we feel tired, exhausted at times, but may find it difficult to sleep which exacerbates the problem. Or you may sleep for many hours and not feel refreshed. There will most likely be problems with concentration and clear thinking. Food cravings are usually part of the picture, craving sugar for immediate energy, salt and sometimes alcohol to de-stress. You might find that you are more prone to developing intolerances, allergies or are more sensitive to chemicals in household or personal care products. Mood can also be affected you may feel low, more anxious and less able to cope.
The way back from adrenal fatigue is different for each individual because different factors will have led them there. However, there are three key ways to start your journey back to feeling energised, happy and focused.
1. Clean up your diet
Take a close look at the food you are eating. Refined carbohydrate and sugar will be perking you up but will be taxing to your adrenals as it will be spiking blood sugar levels. Adding in good quality protein is a good first step. So is identifying any possible foods you may be intolerant to. Main offenders are dairy and gluten.
2. Get a good nights sleep
It may seem like catch 22 but a good nights sleep is vital, this is crucial to your recovery, yet for some people getting more than a couple of hours sleep is impossible. Lots of things can affect your sleep. Begin with practising good sleep hygiene - a dark bedroom, no gadgets or mobiles in bed, etc. Then work on balancing your blood sugar levels this can help with middle of the night wakings. Improving amino acid levels through boosting key nutrients can help when your mind refuses to switch off at night.
3. Identify nutrient deficiencies
Without the right nutrients, your body will always struggle to adapt to challenging situations. A body on ‘high alert’ will need more nutrients just to function. Identifying deficiencies or imbalances can be done effectively through analysis of signs and symptoms with a professional. Some nutrients can be measured using blood and urine testing but it is not always necessary when working with a professional.
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About Sarah Hanratty
Sarah is an experienced practitioner at the Brain Food Nutrition Clinic specialising in the link between the gut and physical and cognitive well-being.