What is adrenal fatigue? It is a common yet sometimes confusing diagnosis that refers to the adrenal glands getting depleted. Adrenal fatigue takes place when the adrenals are exhausted owing to excessive release of cortisol and they are no longer able to churn out cortisol levels that are vital for the optimal functioning of our bodies. Cortisol, as many of us know, is the hormone that is released by the adrenal glands for help in regulating blood pressure. Whenever there is a response to stress, cortisol is released by these glands in higher amounts, leading to what is known as adrenal exhaustion

The term came from James L. Wilson who wrote a book called Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Syndrome and he talked about the adrenal glands positioned over the kidneys with a size similar to big grapes, weighing approximately 5-8 grams. Wilson talked in detail about the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, stating that there are more than 50 hormones released by the glands. Those treating the ailment take into account the expansive functioning of the glands and wide deficiencies that may take place when they are not optimally working. 

Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms- What you should know 

There are several adrenal fatigue symptoms including the following: 

  • Poor response to stress and regulation of mood
  • Fatigue, especially while walking, with sudden crashes throughout each day
  • Higher energy levels during the evenings
  • Brain fogging or cognitive problems 
  • Overconsumption of stimulants such as caffeine
  • Craving for sweet and salty food items 
  • Issues with the immune system 

Some other general symptoms include urinating frequently, losing muscle tone, insomnia, gaining weight, poor blood circulation, gaining weight, and reduced libido. 

Causes of Adrenal Fatigue

There are several adrenal fatigue causes that should be carefully noted. Any excessive stress leads to higher cortisol production by the adrenal glands. Adrenal fatigue may take place when the adrenal glands are exhausted and are no longer able to release optimum cortisol levels for body functioning. Some dietary factors and immediate environmental aspects may contribute towards stress along with emotional fears and anxiety. Trauma, sadness, and autoimmune ailments may lead to the adrenal glands getting impacted negatively. Overusing antibiotics may also have a negative impact on the production of cortisol. 

At the same time, adrenal fatigue is not the same as Addison’s Disease where cortisol production is not sufficient owing to any signaling barriers with the brain or pathology that impacts the glands directly. 

Diagnosis of Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue was previously analyzed through blood tests tailored for tracking Cushing’s Syndrome and Addison’s Disease. However, researchers state that these are not adequate for tracking cortisol levels and the complex nature of cycles. Adrenal fatigue tests are usually done by using saliva or urine for measuring levels of cortisol. Patients with normal levels of cortisol, who have otherwise stressful lives and worries, will require more than what is normal and there will be future consequences as per experts. Those treating adrenal fatigue usually look to get extensive tests done for understanding the daily energy cycles of patients. This is a syndrome resulting from over-stressing to a point where the body cannot optimally respond. 

Adrenal fatigue is connected to several autoimmune ailments since physical and mental stress from these conditions will also impact these glands in turn. Practitioners treating this condition also indicate that issues like PTSD and clinical depression often overwork the glands in a manner that may lead to chronic deficiencies. Roughly 25% of clinical depression, according to Dr. Wilson, will involve lower levels of cortisol while 75% of it may also revolve around higher cortisol levels. Hence, the adrenal gland will have a lot to do with immune system functioning, balancing blood sugar and brain functioning. 

Treating Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue treatment does not involve any specific pharmaceutical methods which are taken to be a factor by several osteopathy and naturopathy doctors. This may be a factor in how the condition is perceived by conventional medicine. Natural remedies may include changes in lifestyle including bypassing junk food items, adopting a diet that is low in caffeine and sugar, and adhering to a healthy schedule for sleep along with taking vital nutritional supplements. 

Recommended Adrenal Fatigue Diet Plan 

The recommended adrenal fatigue diet will help the body uphold healthy levels of blood sugar while providing support for balanced levels of cortisol at the same time. This meal plan will encompass vegetables, whole grains, high-protein items, and healthier fats. Consumption of caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, and processed items may lead to unhealthy cortisol bumps. You should consume the following: 

  • Vegetables that are non-starchy and vibrantly colored. 
  • Fruits like plums, pears, cherries, apples, mango, kiwi, papaya, and others. 
  • Whole grains and proteins. 
  • Healthy fats such as fatty fish, avocado, flaxseed oil, olive oil, and grapeseed oil. 
  • Salt in moderation. 

You should also limit consumption of white flour, white sugar, fast/fried food, alcohol, caffeine, processed food items, and artificial sweeteners. You should try to consume balanced meals at intervals. Some of the top supplements include Vitamins B, C, and magnesium along with coenzyme Q10, Rhodiola, Licorice Root, and Ashwagandha. 

You should also follow healthier lifestyle routines including proper blood sugar management through a more balanced dietary schedule, proper hydration every day, and calming meditation. These practices will naturally have a positive impact in ensuring optimal functioning of the adrenal glands.