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Tired all the time? It’s Likely Adrenal Fatigue

Are you feeling tired but wired? Does it feel as if no amount of sleep relieves your fatigue? You could be suffering from adrenal fatigue, a common condition affecting millions.

Our ancient bodies are not adapted to our relatively stressful modern lifestyles. Hunter-gatherer societies on average spent 17 hours a week working. Our little adrenal glands are just not evolutionarily equipped to handle our modern fast-paced lifestyles.

The adrenals are walnut-sized glands located on top of the kidneys. They might be small, but they have a big job! The adrenals are vitally important because they secrete so many hormones necessary for life, including epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol, DHEA, estrogen and testosterone.

When the adrenal glands become fatigued, the thyroid must take over some of their workload. Then the thyroid gets fatigued and causes more symptoms, most notably fatigue, depression and weight gain. Because the adrenals can negatively impact so many important bodily functions, it is important to take care of them.Fatigue and tiredness

15 Causes of Adrenal Fatigue

Stress of any kind depletes and fatigues the adrenals, which are further weakened by malnutrition due to inherit nutrient deficiencies in our food supply. Our fast-paced, high-stress lifestyles are a sure prescription for adrenal burnout. You will clearly understand why there is an epidemic of adrenal fatigue and so many people are feeling tired all the time after reading this list!

  1. Heavy metal and chemical toxicity. Everyone has 700 toxic chemicals in the body on average. You accumulate them without even trying via air, food and water. Pesticides, heavy metals, mercury in dental fillings, household cleaners, chlorine and fluoride in tap water are just a few of the chemicals that stress the body and deplete the adrenals. Proven methods to remove these toxins are nutritional balancing and infrared saunas.
  2. Stress. Work, school, money, family, social, emotional or psychological stresses contribute to adrenal fatigue.
  3. Psychological stressors. Unhealthy mental habits include worrying, resentment, anger and fear. This applies particularly to high-strung, nervous individuals and those with very active minds, always thinking, thinking, thinking. These personality types are especially prone to adrenal burnout.Fatigue adrenals
  4. Caffeine. Coffee is the top selling products in the world. This stimulant whips the adrenals. It may cause you to feel better for a while, but the long-term effect weakens your adrenals, making the problem worse. One cup a day may be fine. Or try switching to green tea, which has half the caffeine of coffee. See our negative effect of coffee article for more info.
  5. Excessive carbohydrates or sugars. Every time one consumes sugar or grains (even whole grains), the body’s blood sugar rises. High blood sugar causes cellular damage and is considered an emergency by the body. This results in the secretion of stress hormones like adrenaline. That “sugar rush” you feel is adrenaline. Carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, etcetera should ideally comprise about one third of the diet, but you don’t want to go over this amount or you risk stressing the adrenals.
  6. Nutritional deficiencies. Even if you eat a perfectly organic, balanced diet, you cannot escape a fact of modern life. Our food supply is rife with serious nutrient deficiencies because of poor soil quality, synthetic fertilizers, the long time between harvest and consumption of food and the hybridization of plants bred for desirable characteristics, reducing nutrient quality. Most have inadequate diets, eat poor food quality food, or suffer digestive issues, which further contribute to nutrient deficiencies and adrenal fatigue.
  7. Food allergies and sensitivities. Seventy-five percent of the population have allergies or sensitivities to foods making them common stressors on the adrenals. The most common food allergies are wheat (gluten), dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, sugar and corn. An elimination diet and challenge with these common foods should be attempted to ferret out your food sensitivities.Tired all the time
  8. Poor quality water. Municipal water supplies today are contaminated with over 300 different pollutants, which stress the body and adrenals. I recommend one only drink spring water. If this is not practical, drink filtered water via reverse osmosis or carbon filtration.
  9. Vegetarian and vegan diets. Low animal protein diets are typically high in grains, which break down into sugar in the body and stress the adrenals. Animal proteins contain many of the nutrients and amino acids needed for the adrenals to function properly, including cholesterol, zinc, and B12 — nutrients not found or absorbed well from plant foods. All the proteins formed by the adrenals need cholesterol for their synthesis, which are not found in the vegan diet. The Paleo diet satisfies all of one’s nutritional needs.
  10. Alcohol or drug abuse. Alcohol and drugs including cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, all diet pills including phentermine and ephedra, and stimulating medications whip the adrenals. Many who use stimulants do so because they have adrenal burnout and need this artificial energy to get through their day.
  11. Miscellaneous stimulants. Anything that provides a “high,” like sex, loud music, loud noise, bright lights (at a disco), or any addicting activity or substance, can become addictive due to the rush of adrenaline. A person affected by adrenal fatigue may be attracted to stimulants such as these to make them feel better, albeit only temporarily.
  12. Chronic dieting or starvation. Chronic dieters, calorie counters, and women who resort to starvation may cause themselves to gain weight in the long term when their adrenals and thyroid give out. All these common dieting strategies cause surges of adrenaline and nutrient deficiencies, contributing to adrenal fatigue. Low blood sugar levels signal an emergency to the adrenals, which wear them out.Adrenal fatigue
  13. Excessive exercise. Exercise, even brisk walking, will exert your body and prompt your adrenals to release stress hormones. Even though exercise is healthy, it serves to further deplete the adrenals. Moderate, gentle exercise like Pilates and walking are recommended during healing.
  14. Chronic infections. Infections such as candida, bacteria, virus and fungal infections place stress on the adrenals.
  15. Pregnancy. This wonderful time in a woman’s life can cause adrenal fatigue. This time can be very stressful emotionally and physically. Many women, including myself, experience adrenal burnout after giving birth and dealing with the stress of a newborn.

How do you heal adrenal fatigue? To start, you need to do the exact opposite of this long list! Healing can take a few months to a few years depending upon the severity of your adrenal fatigue.

By tending to the adrenals through diet, supplementation, lifestyle adjustments, and stress reduction, adrenal health can be restored. I’ll go into how to specifically heal adrenal fatigue and stop feeling tired all the time in my next post. There’s also more in this video on the adrenal fatigue epidemic.

Wendy Myers
 

Wendy Myers, CHHC, is a certified holistic health and nutrition coach and founder of Liveto110.com. Her passions include getting you healthy, The Modern Paleo Diet and detoxing your body. Look for her new book coming soon, Roadblocks to Weight Loss.

  • This comment came through our ideas for the site page but I feel it’s important to add here:

    I read your article on Adrenal fatigue with interest. About 12 years ago my Adrenal glands failed completely and all attempts to ‘restart’ them failed.
    It was (I am told) caused by taking Prednisalone for 35 years due to a medical condition that only steriods could control. (Nephrotic Syndrome) I now take 5mg per day to replace the cortisone I need.
    I am desperately tired all the time, and eveything I do is a major effort. I am 70 years old.
    Is there anything I can do to help myself cope better?

    Many thanks
    Irene

  • HI Irene!
    The best thing you can do for your adrenal fatigue and other health issues you have is to go on a Nutritional Balancing Program. This is a program that heals your entire body by supplying your body with minerals, which gives you the energy you need to heal the adrenals and your energy levels. It heals your thyroid as well. It’s a detox program also. You can find out more about the program on my site Liveto110.com. Just do a search for nutritional balancing. I would be happy to help you as I am certified as a nutritional balancing practitioner.

    I’ve been doing the program for a year and a half and have markely improved the health of my adrenals and thyroid and healed the majority of my health issues. It truly is an incredible program. Heal your body with minerals!

  • Hi Wendy,

    I like the way you wrote this article to make it simple for individuals. In my practice as I am sure you as well see this to be very common. In fact I have had adrenal fatigue as well and was able to manage it through a nutritional protocol. I am curious have you seen the new cryex immunology test in regards to toxins?

    Brent Boswell BS, C.N.C

    • I have not heard of that individual test, but I do love Cyrex labs. Perhaps it’s necessary to test for an acute toxicity just to rule this out, but a person would likely be presenting with more extreme symptoms than adrenal fatigue. I find that it’s not really necessary to test for toxins because EVERYONE is toxic. It’s a given. Everyone has heavy metals, industrial chemicals, the most common being phthalates, and toxic forms of minerals that are contributing to adrenal fatigue and countless other diseases, health conditions and symptoms. Additionally, many toxicity tests only scratch the surface of a person’s actual toxicity because these toxins are stored in the brain, bones and organs. Chelation therapy only superficially removes metals. The only solution I know of to rid the body of all these toxins naturally and safely is Nutritional Balancing Science developed by Dr. Paul Eck and improved by Dr L Wilson. This is a protocol I do, am trained in, and have seen incredible improvement in all my clients who commit to the comprehensive diet, supplement and detox protocols. I have seen marked improvement in my adrenal and thyroid health and symptoms while enjoying other health benefits associated with detoxing from heavy metals and toxins – all without medication or hormone replacement (which my ND suggested). Every three months I do a hair mineral analysis test – this is the test used to determine your metal levels. Each test sees a dumping of one or more metals, including arsenic, lead, mercury, aluminum, cadmium, et al. I’ve been doing it for a year and a half and am STILL dumping metals. Nutritional Balancing Science is brilliant in that it intensively remineralizes the body, finally giving the body the energy it needs to get rid of these heavy metals – safely, slowly and deeply. Read more about it on my site Nutritional Balancing with Hair Mineral Analysis. As I am trained in Nutritional Balancing Science, I am happy to help anyone who is suffering from adrenal fatigue rid them of the problem and get their health and functioning back to normal.

  • Gar

    Hi!

    I’m a musician of 8 years. I definitely notice an adrenal fatigue in myself, and I maintain a very pristine diet to combat the excessive expenditure of myself I experience on a regular basis.

    I have greatly lowered my use of caffeine, and all but eliminated my alcohol consumption.

    What do you suggest for me to be able to maintain my regular practice and show schedule, while still providing some levity to my adrenals?

    • You’re on the right track!! Definitely eliminate sugar as this is very stimulating. High blood sugar is an emergency for which the body releases adrenaline, hench the ‘sugar rush’ you may experience. Sleep as much as your body will allow. Relax as much as possible doing yoga, massage or meditation – anything to counteract the stress of being on the road. Here’s a powerful, yet simple meditation: http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/meditation.htm

  • cindy ostrom

    Great video…one of the most informative out there. Can you obtain Linoleic acid in anything other than raw butter? I really need help as I have stage 3 adrenal fatigue and actually think I have suffered from it for years and years. I always test positive. I eat well, nothing white, no sugars, no caffeine, no alcohol, basically a paleo diet though I do have pea protein powder every day. My biggest issue is that I don’t sleep soundly at night and sometimes it takes me 3 plus hours to even fall asleep. Then I toss and turn from achiness in my body. I also tested very low in estrogen and progesterone but hate taking them for some reason. My brain doesn’t like it as my nervous system is very sensitive. My naturopath is insistent but I resist! I have Hashimoto’s so take Westhroid for it. Any thoughts on the hormones? I tried .05 mg of Melatonin for sleep and woke up very depressed sort of what happens with progesterone too. I do not over exercise but walk about 5 times a week and do hand weights and squats for 5-10 minutes 3 times a week. Thanks for your guidance and help. Cindy

    • HI Cindy!! Your diet sounds great, but unfortunately it’s not always enough. The reason you have adrenal fatigue is due to many reasons. One is mineral deficiencies. Our food and soils are deficient. Your body need supplements in the form of minerals. I healed my adrenals with Nutritional Balancing, a program that uses targeted supplements based upon a hair mineral analysis. You can learn more about this program here: http://www.liveto110.com/nutritional-balancing-with-hair-mineral-analysis/

      Lifestyle of course is paramount. You must find time to slow down, rest and relax. But you can’t sleep! This is likely because your cortisol levels are messed up because your adrenals are messed up. Taking chelated calcium/magnesium (something you get on a Nutritional Balancing program) will help tremendously with aiding sleep. You need these minerals to relax. As soon as I started them I slept through the night, which I hadn’t done in years. Melatonin doesn’t work! The neurotransmitter system is very tightly regulated and taking melatonin can cause problems. Your best bet is the calcium/magnesium. I take paramin by endomet. You can take up to 9 per day. But I’d start with 4-5 per day. The minerals must be chelated. If this doesn’t work I will have Ameer rosic on the Live to 110 Podcast in a few weeks. He’s the author of the sleep solution and will be talking about how to troubleshoot why you can’t sleep.

      Then there’s the problem of toxicity. Mercury toxicity and other heavy metals contribute to adrenal fatigue. They exhaust the body and run down the immune system. Nutritional balancing addresses this as well by suggesting the use of infrared sauans. But mineralizing the body, this finally gives the body the materials it needs to begin cleaning house – cleaning the heavy metals and chemicals out that it didn’t formerly have the energy to do. The adrenals and thyroid are healed and restored in the process.

      I would skip the pea protein powder. Vegetables are poor sources of protein. If you eat meat, stick with that. It’s the most nutrient dense food there is after organ meats. Nothing can emulate real food and often the powders have weird things in them. Man can never replicate the complex nutrients in real food.

      Hashimoto’s is cleared up in a few months on a Nutritional Balancing program. Why? This condition, which for some reason baffles modern medicine, is a simple infection in the thyroid, for which the body creates antibodies for that slowly destroy the thyroid. A NUt bal program clears up infections rather quickly simply be feeding the immune system. You can also listen to my new podcast on how to heal the thyroid with a nutritional balancing program here: http://www.liveto110.com/heal-your-thyroid-with-nutritional-balancing-with-luke-pryor

      My naturopath wanted me to go on hormones as well when I came into her office with the exact same symptoms. I thought, “No thanks! Hormones cause cancer!And I”m only 40!” And they don’t address the root cause of the problem. When you feed your body hormones for the adrenals or the thyroid, your glands reduce their output of them. Why would they produce them when you’re supplementing? Address the root cause.