Most of us feel tired and run-down from time to time. But if you’re oonstantly exhausted, highly stressed, or struggling to get up in the mornings, there’s a good chance that your adrenal glands aren’t functioning properly. In fact, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue.
The health of your adrenals is highly dependent on the health of your immune system. And because 70 percent of the immune system is in the gut, your digestive system is also linked to your adrenals. Poor adrenal function is often an indication of Candida overgrowth in the gut.
The good news is that you can restore the health of your adrenal glands by making some changes to your diet and lifestyle. Healthy adrenal glands are the first step in beating a Candida overgrowth.
What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
The term ‘adrenal fatigue’ describes a condition that occurs when the adrenal glands function below the level required for the body to perform adequately.
The adrenal glands are responsible for releasing three different types of hormones that control a number of bodily functions. These include the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, the cardiovascular system and the correct balance of salt and water.
Adrenal fatigue typically occurs following prolonged periods of stress. Stress causes the adrenals to produce adrenalin, the body’s ‘emergency’ hormone. If the adrenal glands are forced to produce adrenaline for long periods of time – whether due to constant stress, danger or stimulants such as coffee – the adrenals eventually become depleted. When this happens, they can no longer cope with the body’s daily demands and certainly cannot cope with stress.
Adrenal fatigue is notoriously difficult to diagnose because symptoms vary from person to person. Naturopaths use a 24-hour saliva test to look for irregular patterns in the daily cortisol cycle. The most common symptom is tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell. Sufferers report that they struggle to wake up each morning, and that even coffee only has a mild effect.
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
Although adrenal fatigue is linked to prolonged stress, this doesn’t necessarily mean the stress we deal with every day at work or in the gym. Stress can be anything that places your body or internal systems under pressure, causing the adrenal glands to work harder. One common culprit is stimulants such as coffee.
Caffeine can fast-track the descent into adrenal fatigue. This is because caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of adrenaline. This is the ‘wrong kind’ of energy, because it only lasts a short period of time. Worst of all, the body builds up a tolerance to the amount of adrenaline produced from a cup of coffee, which means you need more and more adrenaline to produce an effect – which means you also need more and more coffee! Regular coffee drinkers find that they need to drink stronger and stronger cups to get the same buzz, each time placing their adrenals under greater stress.
Emotional or physical stress is another major factor in adrenal fatigue. An unhappy relationship, a high-pressure job or a newborn baby that keeps you up during the night – these can all be contributing factors to weakened adrenal glands.
How Can You Tell If Your Adrenal Glands Are Fatigued?
A general feeling of tiredness and lack of enthusiasm is the most common symptom reported by those suffering from adrenal fatigue. Those at risk may be dependent on caffeine or other stimulants to feel awake and energetic. Unfortunately, these only turn out to be counter-productive.
Here are a few tell-tale signs of adrenal fatigue:
- You struggle to get up in the mornings.
- You feel more awake after 6pm in the evening.
- You find yourself drinking more coffees and caffeinated sodas than those around you.
- You have cravings for sugary or salty snacks.
- You experience feelings of being overwhelmed and run down.
It’s important to note that some sufferers of adrenal fatigue can go to the gym regularly and may even feel a burst of energy and vitality after their workout. However, this is still draining their adrenals!
How Can You Treat Adrenal Fatigue?
Unfortunately, doctors often fail to recognise or diagnose adrenal fatigue. They also have the tendency to treat the symptoms of fatigue, rather than the underlying cause.
Adrenal fatigue is not something that you can cure overnight. However, you can start taking a few easy steps towards the road to recovery now.
CUT OUT THE CAFFEINE
Caffeine is a major contributor to adrenal fatigue. Unfortunately, it’s also the first thing most people turn to when they start feeling tired.
Weaning yourself off coffee may take a few weeks. Start by cutting out your afternoon coffee, then gradually reduce the strength of your morning cup.
Chicory coffee is a great alternative as it has a similar taste but contains no caffeine. As an added bonus chicory contains prebiotics to promote the rebalancing of your gut flora, and stimulates the production of digestive enzymes.
Although it’s not always possible to avoid physical and emotional stress completely, there are ways to reduce it. Learn to meditate, take a week or two off work, go for a walk each or escape on a relaxing holiday. Think of ways you can reduce your stress long-term, not just today!
TAKE SOME SUPPLEMENTS
Vitamin C is one of the first nutrients that becomes depleted by stress. Look for a quality Vitamin C supplement to support your body during periods of stress.
B Vitamins are also essential for supporting the body’s energy production and the ability to cope with stress, particularly pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) or pantethine.
A number of herbal remedies are also renowned for their benefits in relieving stress. Ashwaganda in particular is a remarkable herb that has stress-relieving properties as potent as some medicinal drugs. Remember to check with your doctor before you start an herbal treatment program.
One of the simplest ways to restore your adrenals is to take some rest! This doesn’t necessarily mean going on holiday: getting enough sleep at night is the first step in getting your body back in balance. Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep at night by setting a bedtime and sticking to it.
Late nights only cause more stress for the body.
The benefits of exercise go well beyond relieving stress. Regular exercise helps to improve your circulation, metabolism and central nervous system, all of which contribute to healthier adrenal function. Take care not to push your body too hard, as a strenuous workout may place your body under physical strain and weaken your adrenals further.
Sauna therapy is a great way to aid detoxification and give the immune system a helping hand. An effective sauna opens your pores and allow for toxins to be eliminated through the skin. Sauna therapy also stimulates the circulatory system, allowing toxins and pathogens to be collected from the bloodstream and sent to the liver for processing.
Restoring Your Energy Levels
You might well find that a Candida overgrowth co-exists with issues like low thyroid levels, adrenal fatigue, low immunity or other issues. A good holistic recovery plan should help you to address all of these problems at the same time.
If you’d like to learn more about the interaction between your immune system, adrenal function and Candida, take a look at my Ultimate Candida Diet treatment plan.