The adrenal glands are best known for their fight-or-flight ability to produce adrenaline in stressful or challenging situations. They also support the body by secreting other hormones that are vital for everyday function. Without healthy adrenal glands, our whole quality of life goes on a rapid downward spiral.
Unless we live in the remote hills far away from the modern world, it is highly likely that our adrenal glands are on over-load with a on-going threat of burn-out. The modern world is so ridiculously full of distractions, unnatural stimuli, mechanical background noises, gadgets, pollution, toxic foods, toxic body products, negative media, loud machinery, engines, pressure to make a living, people trying to sell us stuff, lack of community support, perpetual negative thoughts, unrelenting busy-ness and stress, stress, stress! Our bodies weren’t designed to handle that much stimulation, and as adaptable as human beings can be, it all creates an insane build up of stress that leads directly to adrenal burn-out. If the adrenal glands are overstimulated for a long period of time, they eventually become so depleted, that when we really need them, they stop working properly.
What are the adrenal glands? (in a nutshell)
We have two adrenal glands, each one sitting right on top the kidneys. They are about 1.5 inches in height and 3 inches in length. Each gland has the adrenal cortex (the outer part) and the adrenal medulla (the inner part).
The most noteworthy adrenal cortex hormones are cortisol, aldosternone and adrenal androgens…
Cortisol is involved in the stress response as well as regulation of the body metabolism. This hormone is an anti-inflammatory and is also responsible for glucose production by mobilising amino acids and free fatty acids.
Aldosterone maintains the body’s salt and water levels, which is an important factor for healthy blood pressure. Without aldosterone, the kidney loses extreme amounts of salt, and then water, leading to serious dehydration.
The adrenal cortex also produces adrenal androgens. They create the main difference between men and women, ensuring the development of the male sex organs in childhood, and in women during puberty.
The Adrenal Medulla fight-or-flight centre
The adrenal medulla comes into action as soon as there is any emotional, physical or mental stress to our system. This is the ‘fight-or-flight’ response (which, in our modern, highly stimulating world, is activated a lot!). It produces adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. Adrenaline works with noradrenaline to stimulate the heart-rate, dilate blood vessels, enlarge the pupils, widen the air passages to prepare and re-distribute the blood to the muscles for fight-or-flight. In ancient days, the fight-or-flight response might have activated when being chased by a pack of wolves or the like; in today's world, it could be an angry boss/customer/partner; a traffic jam; too much invasive music/sound; demanding situations or a violent action film.
How do you know if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue?
People feel adrenal fatigue in different ways, although there are lots of common factors. You might have your hands full and feel consistently under stress; you might experience a decreasing ability to handle stressful situations or maybe you even feel like you are on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Other symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Severe PMS or menopause issues
- Sugar cravings
- Lack of energy
- Decreased libido
- Struggle to get out of bed even after long sleep
- Inability to get to sleep at night
- Perpetual frustration
- Can't function without your coffee
- Mental fogginess
Does any of this sound like you? With our busy modern world, it's no wonder! Let's do something about it...
Reducing adrenal stress
The good news about adrenal fatigue is that it is a lifestyle problem, completely curable by making a few conscious changes in your every day life. Whilst it can take a while to re-set the balance, there are things that can really help you rapidly turn around. Here are some of the things that can help…
- Eat a balanced, healthy, conscious diet, everyday.
- Avoid junk foods.
- Drink good quality spring water (or filtered with good quality filter).
- Spend time in nature. The pulse of the earth is like plugging into a cosmic recharger.
- Meditate or take time for quiet reflection and letting go (check out our guided meditations HERE).
- Always make time for whatever brings you joy.
- Laugh, have fun regularly.
- Get quality sleep and develop a regular sleeping cycle.
- Drink fresh veggie juices.
- Include raw organic plant based foods in your diet.
- Have a short power nap if you feel tired.
- Do conscious exercise like walking, pilates, yoga, tai chi regularly.
- Listen to gentle music to soothe your senses.
- Steer clear of people who pull you in to negativity.
- Go on a healing retreat or vacation in nature.
- Find a good massage therapist and treat yourself regularly.
- Find what really stirs your soul and make it part of your life.
Eating consciously to combat adrenal fatigue
Highly nutritious organic, plant-based foods have powerful healing qualities, are loaded with vitamins, minerals, proteins (amino-acids), essential fats, phytonutrients, anti-oxidants, fibre and have a myriad of health benefits to nourish and rejuvenate every cell of your being. With these vibrant foods, the body isn’t fighting against anti-foods (like junk food, refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, processed foods, meat, dairy, alcohol and coffee), so it naturally frees up your energy to focus on health and repair. ‘Trinity’s Conscious Kitchen’ way of eating is an excellent method to prevent adrenal fatigue, whilst encouraging a life of good health and longevity. It focuses on fresh, organic, plant based foods and super foods. For recipe ideas check out my book here: Trinity's Conscious Kitchen Recipe Book
Juicing for rapid adrenal rejuvenation
Juicing fresh, organic vegetables is one of nature's greatest modern day healing techniques. It's easy and ANYONE can do it! Juice has an awesome way of flushing out toxins, cleansing the cells and recharging them with the most readily available form of nutrients to energise your body. Fresh veggie juice can taste surprisingly delicious and is light years ahead of coffee (which maybe nice, but is really just a drug to trick the body into waking up). If you can, then I’d recommend incorporating juicing into your rhythm of life; this alone would improve your quality of life so much. If you are really blessed, you might even pass a fresh, organic juice bar every morning on the way to work. Beets, celery, greens and ginger are all wonderful at combating adrenal fatigue. Here’s a video I created to get you in the mood…
Meditation for relaxation and healing
Taking time out to relax is essential for all of us. Walking in nature and taking time to appreciate the sounds, fragrances and the feel of the earth underneath your feet, can heal immeasurably. Meditation, conscious movement (like yoga and tai-chi) and conscious exercise can be very restorative too. Having someone guide you in meditation can often take you a lot deeper than you'd go on your own, especially if meditation is new to you. I've been a meditation guide for many years now, and have seen it make a huge impact on people's lives. You can check out one of my downloadable guided meditations, designed especially to relax and unwind amidst a busy, frazzled world here:
Supplements and superfoods for adrenal fatigue
Remember that in the long term, nothing can substitute a healthy, organic diet (which is naturally rich in superfoods anyway). Superfoods, herbal supplements, extra vitamins and minerals can however, give us much needed support along the way. Always buy the best quality supplements that you can, from a reputable brand. When it comes to your health, quality can make a massive difference. Absorbing quality nutrients is a powerful form of health insurance (and a lot cheaper in the long run!). A good quality multi-vitamin formula would cover lots of bases. Here are a few specific suggestions that work particularly well at rejuvenating the system…
High strength Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is crucial for healthy adrenal function. It is a powerful antioxidant vitamin directly involved in the production of cortisol. The highest levels of vitamin C are in the adrenal glands and we excrete vitamin C during stress - extra reasons for topping up. Supplementation should start at a minimum of 500mg per day for optimal health.
High strength Vitamin B-complex: can be an invaluable support for adrenal fatigue. B vitamins burn up like there is no tomorrow when your adrenals are charging out. These vitamins are well known for relieving stress and mood disorders. So, be sure to regularly supplement with a B complex.
are really helpful to ensure that we properly absorb nutrients in our gut. People suffering from adrenal fatigue often have poor digestion, resulting in a depleted immune system all adding to depleted adrenal function and decline in health. Probiotics are often overlooked, but can be super helpful at helping us to rebalance an overloaded system. Buy them from the fridge in a good health food store.
Maca is an amazing plant: it grows at extremely high altitudes (7000ft and above) in the Peruvian Mountains. It has a delicious malty flavour, along with some very noteworthy adaptogenic properties. An adoptgen is something that helps you cope in stressful situations – physically, mentally and energetically. It supports, whilst helping to nourish and recharge you at the same time. This works a treat in smoothies and healthy sweet treats. Here’s one of my delicious smoothies using maca in it: Malty Maca Smoothie Recipe
Rhodiola rosea (“golden root”): this is another potent adaptogenic herb, with a long and helpful history of increasing the capacity to be physically active through demanding situations. It is also said to strengthen the nervous system, fight depression, improve immunity, help muscles recover after serious exercise and support serotonin production to help against depression.
Ashwagandha:this is an adaptogenic herb with powerful rejuvenating properties and has been used since ancient times. It helps you cope with stressful challenges, is an excellent anti-anxiety herb and is known to help reduce cortisol levels. It is a a top contender for adrenal fatigue and stressful situations.
Self empowerment and being the change
Reducing adrenal fatigue is all about taking better care of yourself; making the space to let go and relax as well as nourishing your self with foods that will support and nurture you. It’s all about Loving You! And when you do that, the wonderful thing is that everyone else around you benefits. So, start putting yourself first and remember that when you take care of yourself, it’s the greatest gift you can give to the world, because you'll really start to shine.