- How to Treat
- vs. Adrenal Insufficiency
- When to Contact a Doctor
Adrenal fatigue, also called adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease, is believed to occur when the adrenal glands are overworked. The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and produce hormones such as adrenaline, dehydroepiandrosterone, and cortisol. These play important roles in various physiological functions.
Adrenal fatigue can be reduced with diet, exercise, and sleep. Most people recover from adrenal fatigue within a few weeks, although others may take months or longer to recover. There is a wide range of therapies that can help improve symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
What is the fastest way to cure adrenal fatigue? 13 tips
1. Follow a plant-based diet
A plant-based diet can help your body detox and relieve the physical symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Your body digests plant-based foods more easily, which puts less stress on your system. Whole and plant-based foods include:
- Leafy greens
- Colored vegetables
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- High-quality protein
- Healthy fats
- Slow-burning carbohydrates
Limit your intake of processed carbs, such as bread, pasta, crackers, and chips, to keep your blood sugar levels steady.
2. Get enough protein
Protein deficiency is a major cause of fatigue. Make sure that you consume lean protein, such as chicken, fish, eggs, soy, and lentils, to improve muscle mass and fight fatigue.
However, avoid red meat such as cow meat. When you eat cow meat, any chemicals ingested by a cow, such as herbicides and insecticides, enter your body as toxins. Adhering to a meat-free diet for a short period can help you cleanse and detoxify your body.
3. Avoid processed foods
French fries, cookies, chips, and other fried, sugary, and fatty foods can worsen your symptoms. They contain chemicals, including preservatives, that may make your hormones go haywire and worsen your fatigue.
4. Eat regular meals
When you skip meals or ignore hunger cues, it can have an impact on your adrenal health. Irregular meal scheduling can cause your blood sugar to drop too low between meals, prompting your body to release too much cortisol to correct glucose imbalances. For example, eating breakfast is crucial because it restores your blood sugar levels after depleting glycogen stores during the night.
Adrenal fatigue can make it harder for your body to store energy from the foods you eat, so eating small, regular meals and snacks can help fight symptoms of fatigue.
5. Stay well hydrated
Hydration is crucial for the endocrine system. Without adequate water intake, your body cannot deliver nutrients and hormones to your cells. Dehydration can worsen fatigue, muscle aches, and cramps. The ideal quantity of water is half your body weight in ounces per day. For example, a 160-pound individual should drink roughly 80 ounces of water each day.
6. Avoid caffeine
7. Exercise regularly
Exercise promotes the release of various chemicals such as endorphins in the brain that help improve mood and focus, reduce fatigue, and alleviate pain. Begin with low-intensity workouts, such as leisurely walks or swimming, weight training, and stretching, and gradually increase the intensity as your symptoms improve. Spending more time outside, especially in nature, is also beneficial for fitness and mental well-being.
8. Limit your exposure to toxins
Your surroundings have a significant impact on your mental and physical well-being. Toxins and harsh chemicals can affect your adrenal health if you are exposed to them for an extended period.
Reduce your usage of fragrances, traditional home cleaning products, and anything else that has an unpleasant chemical odor. Keep large indoor plants in your house, as they act as natural air filters that clean indoor air.
9. Consider magnesium supplements
Magnesium deficiency in individuals with adrenal fatigue is typically caused by a poor diet. In addition, your body tends to deplete its natural magnesium reserves during periods of chronic stress. Replacing lost magnesium can help people with adrenal fatigue, allowing them to gain greater overall health and recovery from their overworked adrenal glands.
10. Get adequate sleep
Getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep is vital for overall health and can help you get rid of adrenal fatigue. However, sleep quality is considerably more important than sleep quantity, especially when it comes to cortisol balance.
People with adrenal fatigue often have the most peaceful sleep between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. but frequently wake up between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Their adrenals struggle to produce enough cortisol, so they run out of food stores between these hours. The brain wakes them up because it does not have enough energy to run on. When your cortisol levels are fluctuating, you may have difficulty sleeping, which stresses you out more, causing an endless cycle.
11. Reduce stress
Meditation is a great way to relax your mind and body and reduce stress. You can also try deep breathing exercises to help regulate your body’s functions and lower your stress levels.
12. Try aromatherapy
Studies have shown that breathing lavender essential oil helps lower cortisol levels. You can try using aromatherapy diffusers for deep relaxation. Another option is to apply 1-2 drops of essential oil to the bottoms of your feet or the spine twice a day to reduce stress.
13. Treat underlying health conditions
Your symptoms could be a result of underlying diseases, such as fibromyalgia, heart conditions, or multiple sclerosis. Get regular health check-ups to make sure you receive early diagnosis and treatment.
What adrenal fatigue feels like
The most common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
- General exhaustion and tiredness
- Low energy levels
- Increased cravings for salt, sugar, and caffeine
- Weight gain
- Inability to lose weight
- Weakened immunity
- Blood pressure fluctuations
- Insomnia (trouble falling asleep)
- Inability to wake up
- Difficulty focusing and remembering
- Worsening premenstrual and premenopausal symptoms
- Menstrual irregularities
- Low libido
What is the root cause of adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue can occur when one or more adrenal hormones decrease due to:
- Severe prolonged stress, both physical and emotional
- Extreme exercise
- Undetected infections
- Chronic disease
- Exposure to toxins
- Poor diet or eating habits
- Severe injury
- Irregular sleep habits
Adrenal fatigue is not a recognized medical condition, so it is not included in the International Classification of Diseases. Because of this, it can be difficult to diagnose.
What is adrenal fatigue vs. adrenal insufficiency?
According to a systematic review involving 58 studies published in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Endocrine Disorders, adrenal fatigue is a myth rather than an actual medical condition. There are no diagnostic criteria for this condition to differentiate healthy individuals from those with adrenal fatigue based on biochemical tests (such as serum cortisol levels).
The proponents of adrenal fatigue, however, claim that it could be a mild form of adrenal insufficiency. The latter is a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce the hormone cortisol in sufficient amounts. The adrenal fatigue theory suggests that prolonged exposure to stress could result in draining and exhausting the adrenals, causing low cortisol levels and several symptoms.
Unlike adrenal fatigue, adrenal insufficiency is a recognized medical entity with classic symptoms including:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Abdominal pain
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Loss of body hair
As of now, none of the medical specialties recognize adrenal fatigue as a medical condition because there is no scientific evidence to associate adrenal impairment or adrenal insufficiency with fatigue. Studies have shown that when the cortisol level was checked several times over 24 hours, there was no difference in the levels between fatigued and healthy patients in most of the studies.
When to contact a doctor about fatigue
Your symptoms could be a result of:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Sleep apnea
- Heart problems
- Kidney disease
- Lung disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Hormonal changes (such as during the perimenopausal period or due to hypothyroidism)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Side effects of medications
Proper diagnosis and treatment are necessary for suitable and effective management of any underlying health conditions.
Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27557747/
Adrenal Fatigue. https://www.endocrine.org/patient-engagement/endocrine-library/adrenal-fatigue
Adrenal fatigue: What causes it? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/expert-answers/adrenal-fatigue/faq-20057906
Cadegiani FA, Kater CE. Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review [published correction appears in BMC Endocr Disord. 2016 Nov 16;16(1):63]. BMC Endocr Disord. 2016;16(1):48. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997656/
Endocrine Society. Adrenal Fatigue. https://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/adrenal-fatigue
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