In today’s society, continuous stress is widespread. People
today tend to live frantic, fast-paced and unbalanced lifestyles full of stress
from financial worries, relationship troubles, poor health and pressure to
In response to a stressor – an agent or condition that
causes stress – your adrenal glands produce a steroid hormone called cortisol.
This response is a normal and necessary physiological response that prepares
your body to respond to the stressor.
Chronic stress wreaks havoc with your adrenal glands. Your
adrenals may be unable to keep up with your body’s demand for cortisol and
become depleted. Though unrecognized by conventional medicine as an official
syndrome, this condition is known as adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is a deficiency in the function of the
adrenals, which may present as a group of symptoms, such as allergies,
depression, low sex drive and a general feeling of fatigue or exhaustion.
Dr. John Wilson, author of Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st
Century Stress Syndrome, suggests the following are signs that may indicate
you suffer from adrenal fatigue:
- You feel tired for no reason.
- You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a
- You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.
- You have difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.
- You crave salty and sweet snacks.
- You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.
Beyond identifying the signs of adrenal fatigue, blood spot
and saliva cortisol testing may also used to analyze cortisol levels and
confirm adrenal insufficiency. Other assessments utilized include the iris
contraction test, a questionnaire and blood pressure testing that specifically
intended to test adrenal function.
To control your stress response and manage adrenal fatigue,
Shawn Talbott, author of The Cortisol Connection: Why Stress Makes You Fat
and Ruins Your Health, recommends the SENSE Program, which stands for
stress management, exercise, nutrition, supplements and evaluation.
One of the most important things you can do to manage
adrenal fatigue is learn stress management techniques. Here
are seven tips to better cope with stress.
Exercise causes the release of the feel-good chemicals
dopamine and serotonin. A wealth of research suggests that exercise can
counteract and protect against the negative effects of stress. Choose any
activity you enjoy and work up to 30 minutes of physical activity for a minimum
of five days per week.
It is important to provide your body a steady stream of
energy throughout the day when you experience adrenal fatigue. Eating five to
six small meals, instead of three large ones, each day helps accomplish this.
Each meal or snack should include a balanced intake of the
major macronutrients – protein, complex carbohydrates and fat. A healthy diet
filled with whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, lean meats, fruits and
vegetables will ensure you are receiving the essential micronutrients –
vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants
should be avoided.
Some dietary supplements support your body’s effort to adapt
to and cope with stress and therefore may benefit your adrenal glands. Dietary
supplements should be chosen based on your individual needs under the direction
of a qualified healthcare practitioner. To avoid potentially harmful interaction
with medications, consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any
Some supplements frequently recommended are vitamin C,
B-complex vitamins, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), L-theanine, ashwagandha, Siberian ginseng, 5-HTP and passionflower.
Scot Johnson is a professional health and fitness writer and
author of Nutrition: A Word of Wisdom. He holds a doctorate in
Naturopathy and is a Certified Professional Coach. Follow Scott on Twitter @DocScottJohnson.