Stress is inevitable and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Intense stress or chronic low-grade stress, however, can do a lot of damage to your endocrine system – especially your adrenal gland.
Over time, this gland can become overworked which results in what’s known as adrenal fatigue syndrome.
By making some lifestyle changes, you can learn how to cope with stress naturally and get your adrenal gland back in fighting shape.
Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome: Symptoms and Causes
Before jumping in, it’s important to point out thatthere is no official adrenal fatigue diagnosis.
Your adrenal gland is responsible for producing a variety of hormones like cortisol (the stress hormone), epinephrine, norepinephrine, as well as small amounts of testosterone and estrogen.
You feel surges of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine when your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. Humans today don’t experience the same environmental stresses that our ancestors were exposed to (like running from lions).
Modern humans do, however, experience low-grade chronic stress from a variety of sources:
- Sitting in traffic and driving in general
- Relationships and communication with colleagues, family members, friends, and spouses
- Pressure at work
- Financial problems
- Poor dietary habits and lack of physical activity to “burn off” hormones and encourage balanced production
- Basic day-to-day frustrations and anguish
As you can see, chronic stress is rampant in today’s society so it’s no surprise your adrenal gland can become overworked and tired.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue syndrome may include:
- Low energy and feeling tired
- Feeling down or bummed out
- Whole-body aches and pains
- Anxiousness, grogginess, or nervousness
- Low blood sugar and blood pressure
- Dry skin and hair thinning
- Requiring more mental energy to perform daily tasks (psyching yourself up for everything)
- Reduced ability to handle stress (always feeling like you’re at a breaking point)
Moderate levels of stress are actually good for you – seriously. Even exercise is a form of stress. Chronic stress, however, can wreak havoc on your adrenal system and entire body.
Fight the Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue with Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise play a key role in regulating hormone production.
Since exercise can be particularly taxing for your adrenal gland, it’s important to start with low-intensity activities such as yoga, light jogging, or swimming. Increase your activity as you feel comfortable but make sure to monitor your symptoms throughout the process to avoid exhausting yourself.
You can also jump into fighting adrenal fatigue with diet. When building your adrenal fatigue diet, the goal isn’t to necessarily decrease or increase hormone production, but regulate or balance it.
Avoid these items:
- Wine, beer, and all alcohol (this is a big one)
- Refined sugars
- High levels of sodium (processed meats, cheese, chips, soups, canned goods)
- Soy products (read labels because soy is everywhere)
- Dairy products with high levels of lactose
Incorporate these foods into your adrenal fatigue diet to support your adrenal gland:
- Healthy fats from coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, fish, and avocado
- Fruits – especially berries with high levels of antioxidants like cherries, blueberries, and cranberries
- Starchy vegetables with high levels of beta-carotene like pumpkin, squash, and carrots
- Cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower
- Low-fat proteins from chicken, fish, and beans
Adrenal Fatigue Supplements and Lifestyle Modifications
You can’t remove all stress from your life, but you can make small changes to factors under your control.
- Keep a planner or journal. Write things down to clear your head.
- Limit your screen time.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule.
- Find an outlet or hobby for reducing stress in a healthy way.
- Practice meditation and deep breathing exercises.
Sometimes diet modification just isn’t enough. If you need an extra boost, try these adrenal fatigue herbs and supplements to moderate your symptoms:
- Holy basil
Make sure you talk to a doctor before beginning any exercise, diet, or herbs and supplement regimen. Certain supplements can interact with other medications and conditions.
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