Are you tired of being tired?
Life is so busy and it can feel like a constant battle to find the energy to function on a daily basis especially when you are tired, stressed, overwhelmed or exhausted!
Whether you are busy running your own business, working for someone else, studying and/or looking after your family this can cause your adrenal glands (they sit on top of our kidneys) to go into overdrive as most of us are trying to find that elusive 'work, life balance'.
Adrenal fatigue is a common condition whereby our adrenal glands no longer function at their optimal level. It occurs after weeks, months or years of overproduction of adrenal hormones – cortisol (stress hormone),adrenaline, noradrenaline (both of these hormones can affect your heart, blood sugar levels and blood vessels) and along with aldosterone (regulates salt and water in our bodies – blood pressure regulation) and DHEA (which is converted into testosterone.)
Cortisol and adrenaline also cause the liver to release glucose (from its glycogen stores) into the bloodstream. While this may be a good thing in the short term, continual stress means this response is happening continuously at a low level. This causes the adrenal to become ‘exhausted’ and eventually unable to produce these hormones at the required level. Our bodies are still under the same level of stress but we no longer have the same levels of adrenaline and cortisol to help us cope. This progression from adrenal overproduction to underproduction occurs in three stages.
- Stage 1 – Alarm - This is the flight or fight response phase and is meant to be a short term phenomenon, followed by a 24 to 48 hour period of recovery. During this time energy stores recover and the adrenals are replenished with the nutrients required when the next hit of cortisol is needed.
- Stage 2 – Adaptation - During this stage cortisol levels are chronically elevated over a prolonged period of time. Although we seem to have returned to normal functioning, the body is still reacting at a constant low level. Some people can stay in this stage for a long period of time while others may progress rapidly to stage 3. Others can continually jump between the last 2 stages.
- Stage 3 – Exhaustion – During this stage the adrenals become exhausted and cease producing the required amount of adrenaline and cortisol, despite the still high level of stress.
Cortisol is our stress hormone and is a necessary hormone in our daily lives but having cortisol peaking at the wrong times of the day and night can lead to many short-term health issues. Leaving or ignoring these signs and not having them treated can cause many long-term health conditions (in bold.)
How many can you relate too?
- Digestive issues - IBS symptoms (diarrhoea, constipation or both, bloating, tummy aches)
- Wired and tired (functioning on very little sleep)
- Brain fog
- Stressed and/or feeling overwhelmed
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Hunger (usually for things that are high in sugar as cortisol affects our blood sugar regulation)
- Decreased metabolism (weight gain around our tummies)
- Decreased immunity (catching lots of bugs that are going around - colds, flu, tummy bugs, viruses (cold sores))
- Poor memory
- Low mood (depression, anxiety)
- Arthritis (joint pain)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
These are the common symptoms of high cortisol and why you are feeling exhausted.
Other underlying causes of exhaustion
This is where we talk about testing as implementing the above tips works beautifully for short term stress and exhaustion. Long term stress we need to see if its your:-
- Thyroid gland - if this needs support you can feel slow and sluggish (hypo thyroidism) or tired and wired (hyper thyroidism);
- Hormonal imbalances - high insulin levels, irregular cortisol levels, low oestrogen, low progesterone, low testosterone;
- SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) - constipation, diarrhoea, tummy pain, bloating, brain fog, anemia, nutritional malabsorption, Candida and food sensitivities;
- Autoimmune conditions - Hashimoto's Disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Celiac Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis,
- Viral infections, such as:-
- Epstein Barr Virus (Glandular Fever);
- Seasonal Flu;
- Ross River Virus;
- Varicella Virus (Chickenpox) and
- Herpes Simplex 1 & 2.
- Environmental mould related illness that causes extreme tiredness/exhaustion?
Foods to eat and foods to avoid to support your adrenals
I know it's so easy to grab a quick energy fix when you are feeling rundown, exhausted or burnt out. Most of these 'quick energy fixes' are full of sugar and are highly processed which isn't good for your digestive health, weight or your adrenals.
When you are feeling run down it is important to avoid the highly processed take away foods or Supermarket pre-packaged foods as they are high in salt, sugar and additives. These will give you a quick energy fix but are really bad for your digestive health, adrenals and nervous system.
I see a lot of people who rely on drinking one or two energy drinks a day to help them get through either their studies, work or a combination of both. These are one of the worst energy boosting 'supplements' that you can have. Due to their high caffeine content they are bad for your heart (heart palpitations), digestion (leaky gut syndrome), kidneys and adrenals.
What we are really looking for at times of high stress and low energy are nourishing foods that create a feeling of balance, satisfaction (where you're not looking for a sugary treat afterwards) and sustained energy levels throughout the day.
These foods are basically what are referred to as 'whole foods' and you can have these if you are a meat eater or prefer a plant based diet.
Eating whole foods that include:-
- Protein - is an important building block for healthy muscles, bones, cartilage and skin (hair and nails), repairs damaged tissue, oxygenates our red blood cells to carry oxygen around our body, digesting our food, and regulates our hormones;
- Carbohydrates - are required by your body for energy production along with having healthy balanced hormones. Carbohydrates fuel you brain, kidneys, heart muscles and central nervous system. Good carbs or nutrient dense carbs are your friend in preventing fatigue, weakness, headaches and help stop those sugar cravings;
- Good fats - are essential for maintaining long term energy levels and to support hormonal health. Good fats are needed as they act as a slow release of energy to you body.
These are important to eat at each meal and by doing so you should notice a difference in how you are feeling, especially energy wise. Some people need to eat 5 small meals a day, others function better on 3 meals per day. Do you know what suites you?
Simple changes you can make to get your energy back.
Here are some easy to incorporate tips that I regularly prescribe for my clients on getting your energy back and on decreasing your stress levels:-
- Eat nourishing foods - I love a whole food diet;
- Your adrenals love Vitamin C - red capsicum, kiwi fruit, citrus, strawberries, red papaya, tomatoes and cruciferous veggies (broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage and cauliflower)
- Swapping your nightly wines to kombucha or soda water or now the weather is getting cooler some delicious herbal teas.
- Lite exercise - walking and yin yoga are great ways to start as they are anti-inflammatory. Once you have got your energy levels back up you can begin to do more strenuous exercise.
- Have your breakfast coffee mid morning. It's really important to swap this around as coffee for breakfast stimulates insulin which causes blood sugar imbalances. The flow on effect is insulin throws out your cortisol levels so they're all over the place. Also try having a long black coffee instead of all the milk alternatives or dairy (these lead to weight gain if you have too many)
- Be social - schedule in some time out with your girlfriends. Whether you catch up for brunch or dinner or have a weekend away it's important to have time out for yourself with your girlfriends as this releases another hormone called oxytocin (the feel good hormone!)
- Rest when you are tired. There's a lot of research that shows that having a rest (10 to 30 mins) when tired and not 'soldiering on' throughout the day helps to reduce your cortisol levels, boosts your immune system, slows your heart rate and assists in weight loss.
- Have a morning routine - this is when I love to do my mindset and meditation work - when its quiet and there are no interruptions. This is really important when you are running your own business as it gives us structure and reduces the feeling of overwhelm.
- Before going to bed set aside some time to go over your day and write/journal what went right for you (something as simple as you were out of your Pjs by 8:00am) and acknowledge the things that didn't go as planned (this can happen to us most days as there is always something that pops up!) This will assist in you achieving a good nights sleep as they are out of your head and you can deal with those tomorrow.
- As a Naturopath I have some beautiful herbal liquids and I can create a formula just for you. These will support not only your adrenals but your whole body - that's the wonderful thing about herbs they can assist in so many areas.
As you can see there are many reason's as to why your are tired, stressed, exhausted or suffering from burnout. Stress is usually the underlying factor and if left untreated there are so many other health conditions that can appear or flare up. Over the past two years there has been a lot of extra stress put onto our adrenals due to the uncertainty of living in a pandemic, extra pressure being put on you for vaccinations, more people working from home and home schooling children. Now that life is returning to our new normal it's time to really support our adrenals, nervous system, digestive system and immune system.
So if you are you tired of being tired? Now is a great time to find out why you 'just don't feel right?'
Please either book your consultation or book your FREE 10 minute discovery call via my booking link. I do online consultations as well as in clinic - the choice is your's as to how you would like to work with me.
Yours in health and wellness,