– tired all the time, even after a full night’s sleep
– easily overwhelmed by everyday tasks that once were easy
– fatigued and having difficulty rejuvenating
– noticing fat deposited around your abdomen
– having difficulty concentrating on tasks
– more irritable than usual
– the sole caretaker of a loved one
– menopausal or perimenopausal
If you answer “YES” to these questions, you may have Adrenal Fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue has been called the 21st Century illness by Dr. James Wilson in his book, “Adrenal Fatigue.” The mystery of how stress affects every aspect of our lives has been solved. Now, we’re not going to get rid of stress, so we have to find ways to live with it, but healthy ways, not what you’ve probably been doing in the past. Not eating for comfort, not drinking alcohol to self medicate, not shopping or watching TV. Adrenal fatigue is due to the inability of your adrenal glands to keep pace with the tremendous stress in our lives.
WHAT ARE THE ADRENAL GLANDS?
The adrenal glands are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys (renal, get it?). They produce many hormones and important chemicals. Their most important job is to get us ready to handle and respond to stress. Now, back in the cave days, the stress consisted of a physical danger (read animal wants to eat you for dinner). Our bodies would respond with an outpouring of hormones (adrenalin and cortisol) to allow us to have the optimal response, usually thinking quickly about where to go and having the energy and muscle power to get there. Cortisol is responsible for the metabolic changes that allow this to happen and adrenalin is responsible for the cardiovascular changes that allow this to happen.
WHAT DOES CORTISOL DO?
Are you too stressed to lose weight? Your stress filled lives, crammed with work, family responsibilities, and long commutes are making you fat. Add to those significant life events—job losses, birth, deaths—and you’re a set up for putting on fat and keeping it on. Even extreme dieting such as bingeing, starving and yo-yo dieting are stressors.
Your stress hormone is CORTISOL, which is made by two small glands near your kidneys called the adrenal glands. Remember that name—CORTISOL.
CORTISOL is your friend and your enemy. When you are under a serious threat, for example, your cortisol level goes up to protect you. It raises your blood sugar so your brain and muscles can have fuel to act and protect you. This is a good thing and can save our lives.
However, cortisol is the enemy when your daily life causes your body to make high amounts of cortisol all day every day. When cortisol is high, all the steps are in place to put on fat, especially in the abdomen, and keep it on. You feel more hungry more often and lack the signs that tell you you’re full and to stop eating. Your thyroid hormones which set the speed of your fuel burning are less effective. High cortisol makes you prone to binge eating, sugar cravings, and shakiness between meals.
Cortisol also keeps us from efficiently removing toxins from our bodies so they build up and “gum up the works.” When this happens we are less efficient fuel burners, so fat stays on.
Chronic high cortisol leads to chronic inflammation especially in the intestine. You usually are not aware of this inflammation, but are aware that fat is accumulating and you’re not able to get rid of it.
If cortisol is too high for too long, the adrenals wear out and make less cortisol. This causes low energy, insomnia, and weight gain. This condition is known as Adrenal Fatigue. You may crave salt and salty foods or high fat foods. You may be using high fat or sugary foods and caffeine to keep yourself going.
Are you going at breakneck speed in life with no time for rejuvenation or repair? Do you wake up tired, get going at noon, have a slump at 3 pm and then get a surge of energy at 10 pm? This is the typical Adrenal Fatigue pattern.
To find out more about this common condition, read “Adrenal Fatigue” by Dr. James Wilson. If you have severe problems, call the Sklar Center and ask about our “no charge consult.”
In the meantime you can do these things to start healing:
– Get adequate sleep. Go to bed before 10 pm and sleep until 9 am when possible.
– Do enjoyable things and be sure to laugh every day.
– Eat plenty of whole foods and eliminate processed, sugary, and starchy foods from your diet.
– Eliminate the things in your life that rob you of energy.
– Eat small meals every 3 hours and be sure to chew well.
– Remember that cravings are caused by hormone imbalance and they do not mean you are weak or bad.
– Take control over your health and make your lifestyle one of healing.