Why am I Tired All the Time?
Are you struggling with a constant lack of energy, especially in the late afternoon, with a spike of energy in the evening? What about brain fog, moodiness and irritability, trouble sleeping, or lowered libido?
What you could be experiencing is adrenal fatigue brought on by acute or prolonged stress.
How Stress Effects your Health
Nearly a decade ago, with three small children already at home, my husband and I felt called to add special needs twins to our family through foster care. The daily stress was overwhelming, managing hourly meltdowns, a feeding tube, IV’s at home, prolonged hospitalizations, homeschooling, job loss, and even a near death experience.
My body paid the price and I started experiencing daily dizzy spells along with an extreme lack of energy making it nearly impossible to move off the couch.
After months of testing, my doctor found I had low b-vitamin levels, depleted from chronic stress, and I was treated with 6 months of vitamin injections. Though this helped, I continued to struggle off and on for years with the same debilitating fatigue, brain fog, and moodiness.
It was frustrating to know all the things I needed to do to get through a day with five kids, but my body would simply refuse.
When I learned about adrenal fatigue from my naturopathic doctor, it began to make sense and I discovered what I needed to recover and thrive.
Because every person is different, and some may have underlying medical conditions, it’s crucial to seek out medical advice from a qualified professional. This article contains personal experiences and general guidance and is in no way a substitute for working with a doctor.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal Fatigue is a term coined in 1998 by naturopathic doctor and chiropractor, Dr. James L. Wilson, that refers to an overstimulation of the adrenal glands through prolonged stress, leading to abnormally lowered levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the bloodstream.
A study found that mothers of autistic children have lowered cortisol levels comparable to that of combat veterans, and the greater the behavior problems, the more abnormal the levels were.
It came to a point for me one day when I nearly missed a tractor trailer going 70 mph. I swerved and slammed on my brakes, and cognitively realized the severity of what had happened, but I felt absolutely nothing.
No rush of adrenaline, shakiness, or fear one should feel in that circumstance. My cortisol had become so depleted through chronic stress I could no longer have a normal stress response.
Other symptoms such as hormone imbalance, hair loss, a dramatic change in weight, and skin issues can also be experienced by people with over-taxed adrenal glands. For you it may be a job loss, death of a loved one, divorce, a chronically poor diet, or some other trauma that has caused your body to feel the effects.
3 Steps to Supporting Healthy Adrenal Function
Though the lists of interventions for adrenal fatigue can be long and complex, and you should absolutely work with your doctor, there are 3 basic steps anyone can take to put themselves on the right path. Watching your diet, taking supplements to support adrenal health, and reducing stress will make a tremendous impact, especially in the long run.
Adrenal Fatigue Diet
Three foods to avoid, and three to include.
Foods to avoid:
Caffeine, especially after 12 pm. Caffeine can mess with your sleep cycle, making it more difficult to recover, so keep caffeinated drinks before lunch.
High Glycemic Foods, such as white rice and potatoes, bread, crackers, bagels, corn, cereal, sugar, soda, and sweeteners, are known to spike blood sugar and insulin response, and are more taxing on your hormone system.
Processed Foods such as chips, microwave dinners, fast food, processed meats, and hydrogenated oils like soybean, canola, and corn oil, found in dressings and most packaged foods. God did not create these foods in nature and our bodies simply aren’t equipped to process them without adding stress on our systems.
Foods to add:
Healthy Fats, including grass-fed butter, coconut oil and products, olives and olive oil, avocados, fatty fish like salmon, and nuts and seeds. Research has shown healthy fats can help you battle fatigue, sharpen you mentally, and balance mood. Not to mention they also reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer!
Probiotics, from a high-quality supplement, or fermented products like kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut, have been studied to boost mood and cognitive function, and lower stress. They can also improve digestion and immune function.
Bone Broth, either homemade or high-quality, is rich in nutrients including glycine which can decrease anxiety, promote mental calmness, and help with sleep.
Suppliments to Support Adrenal Health
It is important when using supplements, to consult your doctor for and individualized approach. I also benefit from adding or removing one supplement at a time, so I can discern if it’s helpful. Here is a short list of supplements that may be helpful for those with Adrenal Fatigue:
- Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, holy basil, and licorice root
- Fish Oil
- Dark chocolate
- Vitamin C
- Green tea
- B-Complex vitamins
- Vitamin D
We won’t make positive improvements in our health and adrenal functioning, without reducing the stressors that got us there in the first place. Here are 10 ways I have used to lowered my stress:
- Sleep at least 8 hours per night
- Go to bed, and wake up on a schedule
- Moderate exercise, especially walking 3-5 hrs. per week
- Eat on a regular schedule
- Say no to commitments more often
- Keep a daily gratitude list
- Limit time with negative people
- Spend daily time reading scripture and praying
- Do something you enjoy often
- Talk with a counselor