Adrenal fatigue is caused by chronic stress, whether its source is psychological, such as financial pressure or strained relationships, or physical, such as infections or an unhealthy diet. Although your body is designed to handle stress – with a sophisticated network of organs and systems all working together in what is called the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response – it is definitely not made for constant stress.
Adrenal fatigue treatment is about addressing the root cause (the stressor) while also strengthening and healing the adrenal glands and the NEM so that they can get back to their full capacity and your body is able to rebound from stress once again.
When your adrenals have to work overtime because the stress your body is exposed to has become chronic, their cortisol output will eventually drop, causing Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) and its unpleasant symptoms.
Some of these symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, insomnia, mild depression, anxiety, heart palpitations, sensitivity to certain foods and medications, low libido, hair loss, hypoglycemia, salt and sugar cravings, frequent colds and flu, and general weakness.
As the mainstream medical community does not yet recognize AFS, if you go to your GP with these symptoms, you may get sent home after receiving negative results from tests you have done and with no diagnosis. This is a frustration that many people share at the moment, feeling that they’re unwell yet without any clear answers.
AFS is extremely common, and its recovery doesn’t include the use of conventional medications or treatments. It is a condition that needs to be approached holistically, with a focus on diet, rest, stress management, mild exercise, and the right kinds of supplements.
Step #1: Stress Management In Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
Because AFS and the dysregulation of the NEM are caused by chronic stress, your first job is to figure out what the stressor is and see what you can do about it. If it is psychological in nature, can you remove the stressor completely or do you need to develop coping skills to handle it? Have you tried therapy, meditation, support groups, or journaling?
If it is physical in nature, what steps do you need to take to recover or improve this condition? For example, many cases of AFS are caused by chronic inflammation that usually begins in the gut due to an imbalance in the microbiome (dysbiosis) and leaks in the intestinal lining. Taking up an anti-inflammatory diet and eating foods that balance the microbiome are great first steps.
Step #2: Diet In Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
Generally speaking, sugar, alcohol, highly processed foods, antibiotics, certain drugs, gluten, saturated and trans fats, and exposure to chemicals and toxins are the usual culprits in dysbiosis and leaky gut. So try to eliminate or cut them down as much as possible. This will already bring down inflammation and give your gut a chance to heal.
Adding probiotic and prebiotic foods and supplements is the next step that can help you seal the leaks and rebalance your microbiome. These include fermented vegetables, bone broth, lots of fiber, raw yogurt, and kefir.
Taking up an adrenal fatigue diet will automatically reduce inflammation and help improve gut and microbiome health because it covers much of the above while also supporting the adrenals. It is all about eating lots of vegetables, low-glycemic index fruits, and lean meats. Nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, dairy, and eggs are also part of the diet. And using organic sources as much as possible is recommended.
With the adrenal fatigue treatment diet, the timing of meals is almost as important as the content of the meals. Eating small portions more frequently and at the same time, each day helps give your body the constant supply of energy it needs and keeps your blood sugar levels stable. This gives your adrenals the break they need to recuperate while providing them, and the rest of your NEM, with the nutrition necessary to rebuild them.
Step #3: Rest And Sleep In Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
When you have AFS, you need to get as much rest and good quality sleep as you can. It is not the time to try and force yourself to work or function at full capacity. To give yourself the best chance at getting a full night’s rest, you can take a few simple steps.
First of all, don’t use your electronic devices at least two hours before bed. Or if you must, use a blue-light blocking filter or glasses. Then, eat a light snack before bed, such as a few nuts, so that you don’t get up in the middle of the night from a hypoglycemic episode. Also, keep your room cool and dark, and, if at all possible, don’t turn the lights on if you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, use a night-light instead.
Step #4: Exercise In Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
In the beginning of your adrenal fatigue treatment, you’ll want to do very mild forms of exercise, if any at all. You can begin with adrenal breathing and light stretching, and stay very aware of how you feel throughout. Never push yourself. As you get stronger, you can try adrenal yoga exercises, and then move onto toning and strengthening exercises. Just be cautious, as overdoing physical activity when your adrenals are weak can lead to a crash and a longer recovery period.
Step #5: Supplements In Adrenal Fatigue Treatment
This is the trickiest step of adrenal fatigue treatment and so we highly recommend that you don’t experiment by yourself. It is best to get guidance from an experienced professional on what supplements to take for your particular condition and the stage of AFS you’re in.
Generally speaking, supplements will do one of two jobs: fill in any nutritional holes left from not eating a well-rounded diet, or use herbs and supplements in therapeutic doses to give you an extra push. Adaptogens, such as ashwagandha and Rhodiola, can sometimes be used to help your body adapt better to stress, and adrenal glandulars can sometimes provide a boost for your adrenal fatigue treatment if diet and rest are not enough.
Again, you want to be very careful here because taking different supplements together can lead to negative reactions, and some supplements can have a paradoxical effect on your condition, worsening it instead of improving it.