Adrenal glands are among the very important organs in the body. They deserve as much attention as the kidneys, liver and other organs in the body. However, with the busy lifestyles and stresses that people go through nowadays, it is possible for these glands to be under too much abuse, something that causes what is known as adrenal fatigue.
The adrenals sit on top of the kidneys in the body. They are two little pea-sized organs that produce hormones that are very important to life, for instance cortisol that helps the body to respond to stressors and regulates metabolism, and aldosterone that helps to control blood pressure.
Adrenal fatigue happens when dietary and lifestyle choices that we make cause these glands to be exhausted after firing over and over in order to provide us with a quick burst of energy during a fight or flight situation.
Our hunter and gatherer ancestors did not fatigue the glands because they only needed a burst of stress hormones occasionally. However, in the modern society, the glands are constantly under stress by circumstances such as air pollution, a difficult boss, financial problems, family quarrels, infections, too little sleep, substance abuse and sensitivities to food.
When you realize that your glands are fatigued or exhausted as a result of too much stress, you will need to take appropriate measures to improve their condition. Some of the common symptoms you are likely to experience when suffering from adrenal fatigue include:
– Low thyroid function
– Low blood pressure
– Low or no libido
– Trouble getting out of bed or low energy through the day
– Cravings for salt and sugar
– Mental exhaustion, anxiety, and depression
– Inability to lose weight
– Reduced immunity
A paleo diet can be of great help on your adrenal fatigue recovery journey. The following are the five impacts that this diet has on the health of the adrenal glands(more detail).
- Ability to Deal with Stress
The paleo diet emphasizes the key nutritional components that are supposed to be in place for these glands to be able to deal with stress from every possible source without getting fatigued. Whether you have disease, injury, relationship related problems, and other issues that may be making you vulnerable to stress, this diet will make sure that the glands have the power to fight those stressors.
The adrenals are very important to the body because they determine the energy of the body’s responses to changes in both internal and external environments. When they are in good working condition, you will be able to endure long hours of physical challenge, fight or pursue your goals without giving up, and conquer other things that may put you under a lot of stress without sensing retreat or surrender in your system. Your body will not have difficulty adapting or responding to stressors.
- Minimize Swelling from Allergies and Autoimmune Disorders
It is the job of the adrenals to make sure that the reaction of the body to stress and other disorders is in balance. For instance, adrenal hormones such as cortisol have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that help to minimize reaction like inflammation and swelling due to allergies and autoimmune disorders.
The paleo diet ensures that your body has the adrenal hormones that are very helpful when it comes to minimizing the swellings. The adrenal hormones are also very important when it comes to other uses in the body, including normal blood sugar regulation, utilization of carbohydrates and fats, proper cardiovascular function and distribution of stored fat.
- Improved Sex Drive
Another impact that the paleo diet has on the health of the adrenals is making sure that the production of sex hormones in both men and women is not affected after midlife. The adrenals are the major source of sex hormones at this stage (menopause in women, and andropause in men).
Besides the impact they have on sex drive, the sex hormones that are produced by the adrenals have a wide array of emotional, physical and psychological effects. If their production is affected, you stand a risk of gaining weight. Your stamina may also be affected – that is why some athletes turn to steroids, which are adrenal hormones, in order to have improved muscular strength and stamina.
- Improved Immunity
The ability to respond to chronic illnesses and the propensity to develop a number of diseases is significantly influenced by the adrenal glands. This means that if the adrenals are overworked until they become fatigued or exhausted, you stand a greater chance of developing certain kinds of illnesses or taking a very long time to heal when suffering from chronic illnesses.
If the chronic illness that you are suffering from is severe, the response of the adrenals becomes more critical. The paleo diet makes sure that these organs are in good health all the time so as to make sure that the adrenal hormones that are very critical in enhancing your immunity are not affected.
How well you live your life and your ability to avoid some illnesses depends on how well your adrenals are functioning.
- Avoiding Sugar and Carbohydrates Addiction
Among the functions that the adrenals have is maintaining blood sugar balance. So if you are addicted to sweets and starchy foods such as chips and bread, it is important to know that you are giving your adrenals more work to do in order to maintain a normal blood sugar blood balance.
Since a paleo diet limits the intake of carbs and sugars, it means that you will be reducing the stress on the glands every single day, and as a result, they will not be fatigued.
Addiction to sugar and carbohydrates can happen when you are trying to stop using drugs, alcohol or certain medications. Even though it can be part of the healing process, you still need to make sure that you do not compromise the adrenals by overworking them.
Through the action of the adrenal glands, your body is able to mobilize its resources in order to fight off danger, escape or survive. You cannot afford to overlook their health and well-being. Besides a paleo diet plan, you need to make sure that exercises are part of your lifestyle. The best thing is that you do not have to engage in complex exercises to keep the adrenals healthy. Simple exercises such as walking and jogging are enough to ensure that these glands are functioning properly.
Adrenal fatigue or insufficiency is a hormonal disorder that occurs as a result of the adrenal glands not producing enough of certain hormones. This disorder can be primary or secondary.
Primary adrenal fatigue, which is also referred to as Addison’s disease, occurs as a result of failure of the adrenal glands to produce enough adrenal hormone cortisol due to damage. This is disease is estimated to affect approximately 100 to 144 of every one million people in the developed countries.
Secondary adrenal fatigue on the other hand occurs when the pituitary gland is not able to produce enough adrenocorticotropin hormone which stimulates the production of the hormone cortisol in the adrenal glands. If the output of adrenocorticotropin hormone becomes too low, production of cortisol stops. This type of adrenal insufficiency is much more common compared to primary adrenal fatigue.
Adrenaline and cortisol hormones usually play a very important part in the body. They help in controlling the nervous system by regulating the way the body handles pain, the body’s sexual hormones, the natural run or fight tendencies, and the flow of blood in the body.
The following are the top five symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
- Chronic Fatigue
One of the indicators that you are suffering from this condition is chronic fatigue. You may feel very exhausted even after long hours of sleep, or you may become too unproductive at work as a result of being too tired.
The chronic fatigue is caused by low levels of cortisol as well as neurotransmitter such as norepinephrine and adrenaline in the body. So you should not just assume that any kind of tediousness is normal and start taking too much coffee with the hopes of overcoming it.
In fact, you are advised to cut back your coffee intake to one cup a day if you are a heavy coffee drinker and you find out that you are suffering from this insufficiency. You are supposed to continue minimizing the coffee intake until you eventually stop taking the coffee completely.
It is also important to know that fatigue is a common symptom of many diseases such as arthritis, anemia and diabetes. So you should not be quick to conclude that you have this condition when you feel too tired.
- Chronic Headaches
Even though some people are chronic headache sufferers, it could also be a symptom of adrenal insufficiency. If you have never had the misfortune of experiencing a serious headache before and then you happen to experience one, you should check with your doctor because you might be suffering from this insufficiency.
This condition can also cause a simple headache to aggravate into something more serious such as a migraine. If you have an ongoing or chronic migraine, it is a sign of some deeper chemical imbalance resulting from this condition, and it will need to be controlled by a prescription from a medical professional.
- Decreased Sex Drive
If you notice that your sex drive has decreased enigmatically, it is an indicator that your body needs nourishment as well as time to restore. The adrenal glands are actively involved in the production of the body’s sexual hormones, for instance testosterone and estrogen.
In the event that the adrenal glands stop the production of the sexual hormones or slow down, you might experience a lack of interest in sexual matters. This could be a sign that something is wrong with you.
A healthy libido is not only important for you, but also for the good of your significant other. So if you notice that your sex drive is decreasing, you need to see a medical expert immediately to run a series of tests so as to establish the underlying problem.
- Higher Energy Levels in the Evenings
The lower cortisol levels that are caused by this condition may have a negative effect on your energy levels throughout the day. If you are healthy, the cortisol levels are supposed to be at the highest early in the morning and decline gradually throughout the day.
However, if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue or insufficiency, you may experience increased levels of cortisol in the evenings, something that may contribute to increased energy levels. This means that you will be tired all day, and then start feeling energetic in the later afternoon or evening.
You are likely to experience this symptom in the earlier stages of this condition because the adrenals are still able to produce significant amounts of adrenaline and cortisol.
- Cravings for Salty Foods
The cortex, which is a part of the adrenals, is responsible for producing aldosterone which is a mineralocorticoid that works together with the kidney to control fluid and mineral excretion in your body. When the adrenals are fatigued, the production of aldosterone slows down. You also tend to excrete huge amounts of useful minerals in your urine.
Even though frequent urination is attributed to age due to depleted endocrine systems, it could also be as a result of depleted adrenals. What this means is that if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue or insufficiency, your ability to balance levels of minerals such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium in your blood effectively will be interfered with. This is will in turn lead to cravings for salty foods so as to replace the sodium that you have lost.
So if you suddenly find yourself craving for salty snacks, you should see a doctor because you could be suffering from adrenal fatigue.
There are many other symptoms associated with adrenal insufficiency, including joint pain, dry skin, weight gain, lower back pain, low blood pressure, loss of muscle tone, depression, and so on. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention from a professional. The professional will do a series of tests in order to determine what is causing the problem.
There are things that you can do to repair your adrenals without necessarily going to a doctor. They include removing stressors, getting enough sleep and changing your diet. However, if you are very ill, you should seek a doctor’s advice to prevent the condition from becoming worse.