If your tired, stressed, having immune or weight issues or a number of the other symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue it is time to take some action to regain your health.
If your not sure if you have adrenal fatigue your should check out this article on Adrenal Fatigue. Its important that before you treat Adrenal Fatigue you are testing adrenal fatigue to make sure you know what stage of Adrenal Fatigue that you are in with a saliva adrenal test.
I have worked with many people with adrenal fatigue and the symptoms can be varied but generally the basic treatment plan will be the same depending one the level of Adrenal Fatigue that you have, which is get good quality sleep, relax, eat well, gentle exercise and address digestive function. Depending on the individual and the stage of adrenal fatigue that they are in a few select herbs, vitamins and minerals will help to restore balance and speed up recovery and the supplements will vary from person to person depending on their needs.
It’s time to increase your energy levels!
Tests for Adrenal Fatigue
The best way to test for adrenal fatigue is through a saliva hormone profile for cortisol and dhea, often doctors will do blood or urine tests for cortisol but these one off tests do not take into account the fluctuations of cortisol throughout the day …. and this is important for diagnosing the stage of adrenal fatigue that you maybe in. With a saliva hormone profile, you will test your cortisol at 4 times throughout the day, these are 6am or when you wake up, midday, 6pm and 10pm or when you go to bed.
These tests are available through functional pathology labs, I use Healthscope and there are a number of good ones around the world which are available. Finding a functional medicine doctor or naturopath to interpret the results will help you to formulate the best treatment plan for you.
Getting a good night’s sleep
If you have adrenal fatigue then you need to get many things right to help with your recovery and sleep is probably the most important one, and the hardest to get right if insomnia is causing you problems. It is important to have a good sleep routine which includes getting to bed at a consistent time before 10pm and ideally around 9pm, no stimulants like tea or coffee in the evening and this can be replaced with a calming herbal tea like chamomile.
It can take some time to get your sleeping patterns back on track so it is important to be consistent with your routine to give yourself the best chance of success. For more ideas on how to sleep well including what supplements are the best to take to help you get back on track check out this article.
Reducing your stress levels will also help with stress and a simple meditation practice and learning to say “no” to people so that you do not have so many commitments going on which can lead to that racing mind at night time.
How much exercise?
We all know that exercise is important and this is the case when treating adrenal fatigue but …. and there is a big but here …. the exercise must not be high intensity or of a long duration as this type of exercise will create more inflammation in the body and can raise or deplete the body’s cortisol levels further. With adrenal fatigue people are often burning the candle at both ends which can include too much work, stress, stimulants, poor food choices and some people can try and “balance” this out by going to the gym, doing crossfit or some other sort of high intensity exercise and this will only make things worse.
The best types of exercise are the ones that are of a low intensity and help you to de-stress. Things like yoga, tai chi and relaxing walks are the way to go and will help with your recovery.
What to eat?
The simple answer is to eat real food! Most of the food in the supermarket these days does not fit this criteria and is so processed most people would have trouble recognizing the real ingredients in the product.
You need to get a good balance of the macro-nutrients which are carbohydrates, fats and protein. By eating good quality fresh ingredients the vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients will look after themselves, as fresh foods are a lot more nutrient dense compared to the “average” diet.
The best carbohydrates are fresh vegetables and salads and it is important to have a variety of green leafy vegetables, root vegetables and everything in between while also including as many different colors of vegetables to get the widest variety of nutrients. Fresh fruits in moderation are also great source of carbohydrates and delicious. if you are insulin resistant you may need to limit your fruit intake. I always recommend eliminating all gluten containing grains due to the inflammation gluten causes to the gut, but many people can tolerate grains like rice in moderation.
Avoid refined carbohydrates from cereals, breads, biscuits and cakes. Avoid the afternoon “pick me up” from sugar rich foods.
Good sources of protein include fish (especially oily fish), grass fed meats and poultry, free range eggs, nuts and seeds or good quality protein shakes. It is important to have some protein with each meal, especially breakfast as this will help to stabilize blood sugar levels and aid with tissue repair and growth.
Fat is also important for energy, hormone function and stabilizing blood sugar levels so it is important to include some with each meal. Good sources of fat include oily fish, olives and olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts and cold pressed nut oils like macadamia.
The fats to avoid are the man made vegetable oils, margarines and trans fats which are found in many processed foods that have a long shelf life like pastries and biscuits.
What about my coffee?
Coffee, tea and the ever increasing energy drinks are an “essential” part of the day for many people, and are one of the biggest things that people struggle to give up. If you are relying on your caffeine hit to get you going throughout the day it ‘s hard to imagine that giving it up for a while will actually help increase your energy levels after a week or two.
Caffeine in excess will be one of the big contributors to adrenal fatigue which is why it is necessary to give up for a while, or at the very least cut down to one a day if you think that your world will end without your morning cup of coffee.
Fix your digestion!
Symptoms that you are not absorbing nutrients and eliminating wastes efficiently include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, reflux/ heartburn and nausea. Good gut function is essential to good health so this is another area that cannot be overlooked. Let your Naturopath know if you are experiencing these types of symptoms and they will be able to help you to eliminate them, and just by following the tips mentioned here to reduce stress, cut out processed foods and sleep well … this may also make a massive difference to your digestive health.
What supplements to take
I will list some of the supplements that are beneficial for treating adrenal fatigue and you need to keep in mind that everyone is different and will have different requirements depending on their personal situation so it is important to get the right supplements. More is not better and it is not necessary to take all of the supplements mentioned here, in fact some people may not need supplements at all.
There is also a big difference in quality between brands, with many supplements that you buy from the supermarket or over the internet of low quality or maybe have the wrong form of a mineral which means that it is not easily absorbed by the body.
Herbs that can benefit adrenal fatigue include Rhodiola, Withania, Ginsengs, Rhemannia and Licorice root. Often you will find these herbs in a combination supplement for adrenal fatigue.
Phosphatydlserine is one of my favourite supplements for treating adrenal fatigue and it can benefit stress by lowering cortisol levels, improving memory and cognitive function. Vitamin C, B Vitamins and minerals such as magnesium are also important when you are dealing with stress.
If you have some of the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue (you don’t have to have them all) it would be a good idea to get your cortisol levels tested, as this will help with your treatment plan and identifying exactly what is wrong. This can be done with Planet Naturopath, a saliva adrenal kit can be sent directly to you wherever you live in Australia.
Start with all the lifestyle tips like improving your sleep, quality exercise, reducing stress and eating good quality foods. The supplements can be beneficial to speed up recovery and it is best to work with your practitioner to work out what your body needs.