In the last 100 years or so, prevalence of adrenal fatigue in our society has skyrocketed. This condition has been holding people back, keeping them from living the best lives they can live due to constant exhaustion, depression, weight gain, illness, and much, much more.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Adrenal fatigue, which basically means your body is not able to cope with the onslaught of stress hormones, means that your body is fighting a constant chemical battle. This causes you to be under almost never-ending stress, which can lead to even more dangerous conditions, like heart disease and diabetes.
At the end of the day, you can’t get a restful night’s sleep to reboot your system, so you wake up just as stressed out as you were the day before. The cycle continues, and worsens.
There are ways to treat the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, but the best way to really combat this horrible condition is to hit it at the source and get to the root of the problem. There are many potential causes of adrenal fatigue, but the six we’re going to talk about today are the biggest culprits!
(Plus, check out the Personal Risk Checklist at the bottom of this article to determine your own personal risk of getting adrenal fatigue!)
Cause #1: Stress
Unquestionably, the largest contributor to adrenal fatigue is stress. Stress can form in any area of your life. When you have an unhealthy work environment, bad relationships with your family or your friends, or loans you’ve yet to pay off, it can stress you out. This is reasonable, and it happens to everyone, but when you’re under constant stress, your adrenal gland may start to underproduce the proper hormones to deal with all of the stress hormones your body is sending out. That’s when adrenal fatigue can strike.
You see, this kind of low-grade, continual stress feels totally manageable when we’re beginning to deal with it, but over time, it begins to wear you down. That’s the main reason stress is such a huge and dangerous factor. A lot of the time we don’t realize it’s affecting us as badly as it is until it’s too late.
How do deal with it:
There are dozens of ways people manage their stress. Obviously, the best and most permanent solution would be to eliminate the cause – leaving a bad relationship, finding a more fulfilling job, or paying off your outstanding debts. Sometimes, though, that’s not really achievable.
Instead, you can try some other great solutions that have been shown to relieve stress:
- Breathing Exercises
- Eat Well
And speaking of eating well, that actually leads us to the next BIG cause of adrenal fatigue…
Cause #2: Diet
The standard American diet has been on the chopping block lately from health gurus in every field. From attributing it to an increased risk of several diseases to its effects on the environment, we’ve been starting to look at the foods Americans are eating under a more scrupulous scope. However, did you know that the foods we’re eating may also be leading us down a path toward adrenal fatigue?
The BIG culprit here is our favorite ingredient: sugar.
Americans eat more sugar today than they ever have before. In the last 200 years, the average American has gone from eating one to two pounds of sugar in a twelve month period to consuming around 150 pounds. That’s more than one pound a MONTH!
Eating that much sugar forces our bodies to produce extra cortisol (the stress hormone) and insulin, which stress both the pancreas and the adrenal glands. Additionally, it’s been proven that diets high in sugars are a leading contributor to becoming overweight or obese, and excess weight is another factor that leads toward adrenal fatigue. An extra 50 pounds puts significant stress on your body and internal organs.
On top of that, we also drink too much caffeine (which interrupts our normal sleep cycles), consume too many hydrogenated oils (which are highly inflammatory on the adrenal system), and rely too heavily on processed foods (which have preservatives and fillers that are harder for our bodies to digest). All in all, it’s a recipe for adrenal disaster.
How to deal with it:
The simplest way to deal with your diet is to just stop buying food that’s bad for you. If you don’t have it in the house, it’s harder to eat it. Instead of buying processed, sugar-rich snacks, get fruits and vegetables instead. Better yet, make your own snacks using ingredients you know to get rid of preservatives. When you cook, healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, butter, or ghee.
Then, get as many “whole foods” as you can! Some of our favorite superfoods for adrenal health are:
- Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, and other Cruciferous Veggies
- Fatty, Wild-Caught Fish
- Chicken and Turkey
- Kelp and Seaweed
- Himalayan Sea Salt
Oh, and don’t worry as much about the caffeine problem. As you address your adrenal fatigue, you’ll realize you don’t need as much caffeine to get you through the day. That should help you get to sleep more easily at night. Which leads me to our third big cause of adrenal fatigue…
Cause #3: Lack of Sleep
Another standard our society has decided as “normal” is to go-go-go lifestyles we’re all starting to live. We wake up in the morning and many of us feel like we have to burn hot and fast all day to get everything we need to get done actually done. We need to give 110% to our jobs, our relationships, and our hobbies or we’re just not doing enough. What ends up happening is that we’re burning the candle at both ends, struggling to find a work-life balance that works for us, and finding that we simply can’t cram enough into the day.
So, to try to make ends meet, we just give up on getting some sleep. What’s the difference between 6 and 8 hours a night, really?
Turns out – the difference is huge.
First of all, most people with adrenal fatigue aren’t even getting six hours of sleep at night. Second, your body uses its valuable time asleep to repair itself, both physically and emotionally. Sleep is when the memories of the day get processed and logged into your long-term memory. When you don’t get enough restful sleep, you’re inhibiting your body’s ability to deal with the events of the day. Your adrenal glands don’t have the time they need to recuperate.
How to deal with it:
Experts recommend you get at least seven to eight hours of restful sleep a night to stay healthy. The best way to do that is to make sure you actually get to bed at a decent time! If you’re struggling falling asleep, try some of these cool tricks to help ease your mind and get some much-needed rest:
- Practiced breathing, like the 4-7-8 technique
- Cool your room down
- Remove ALL electronics from your bedroom
- Sleep with a pillow between your legs (if you’re a side-sleeper)
- Sleep with a pillow underneath the small of your back (if you’re a back-sleeper)
- Use acupressure points shown to help you sleep
When you start sleeping well, eating well, and managing your stress, you’ll probably start to see a huge change in your adrenal fatigue. Of course, there are other causes you’re less in control of…
Cause #4: Chronic Disease
While some chronic diseases may be a result of lifestyle choices you made (type II diabetes and emphysema, for example, may be because of an unhealthy diet or smoking habit, respectively), others are totally out of your control. Type I diabetes is genetic, and asthma or arthritis are conditions people get no matter how much they may do to prevent them. Any time your body is fighting off or dealing with an illness for prolonged periods, you’re more susceptible to adrenal fatigue.
It’s not just the illness that are hard on your adrenals. Many times, the treatments used to manage these diseases are just as stressful. Often times, people with diseases that cause chronic pain or require long-term medication, like fibromyalgia, lyme disease, and even some parasites, report feeling increasingly fatigued. This is probably due to their adrenal system being overwhelmed.
How to deal with it:
For diseases that are manageable or maybe even curable through lifestyle choices, the top recommendation is to fix those underlying causes first. For those that are not, the best thing is to take as good of care of your disease as possible, while maintaining ideal adrenal health.
Adrenal support supplements may be one of the best choices for people suffering from other chronic illnesses. These supports will help boost your body to handle the stressors more readily. Look for a support supplement that has the following ideal ingredients:
- Holy Basil
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
One of the best adrenal support supplements on the market is FlexNatural’s Adrenal Support. You can find it on Amazon.
Cause #5: Toxins and Pollutants
Besides chronic illnesses, many people get adrenal fatigue due to long-term exposure to toxins and pollutants. Our “toxic load,” or the overall level of toxicity that we have to deal with on a day to day basis, can play a huge role in our adrenal fatigue. There are toxins in our food, pollutants in the air, and even chlorine in our drinking water! Many meats are treated with antibiotics and hormones, while our vegetables have pesticides. All these things factor into our toxic load.
In fact, approximately 2,000 chemicals are estimated to be introduced into the marketplace every single year, whether they’re in our food or various other products we purchase. They’re rarely fully tested for our safety, either. Many of these chemicals have been linked to Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease. On a less extreme scale, they also affect your immune system, your digestion, and, by association, your adrenals.
Many of the chemicals we are exposed to are known to directly disrupt adrenal function. Your body usually makes temporary adjustments to compensate, but after a long period of time, your adrenals become fatigued – and so do you.
How to deal with it:
First and foremost, do everything in your power to cut out toxins you know of. Buy humanely raised, hormone and pesticide-free meat products. Get organic fruits and vegetables. Filter your tap water and get an air purifier for your home.
Besides that, you can boost your adrenals by getting enough sleep, eating well, reducing stress, and even taking adrenal support supplements.
Cause #6: Trauma
Another huge cause for adrenal fatigue that is out of our control is trauma. Trauma, in this sense, is defined as a sudden and extreme stressor, either mental or physical, on the body that is outside of our control. Things like a sudden divorce, a death in the family, an accident, or a surgery can fall under trauma. These are not long-term factors that play into adrenal fatigue, as the other five items on this list are. Instead, tramas are moments of severe physical or mental pain that have an enduring impact on our health and hormone balance for years beyond the inciting incident.
Often times, people will trace their symptoms back in time to a single traumatic incident that, playing together with the other stressors and factors in their lives, was one of the leading cause of their adrenal fatigue.
How to deal with it:
Since the initial trauma is often totally outside of your own control, the best way to take care of your adrenal system in these trying times is to try to keep other aspects of your life as healthy as possible. It’s common that people begin to eat badly after experiencing a loss, being fired, or getting a divorce. It’s also common that people stop exercising and stay up for hours every night to deal with it. Even in physical trauma, it’s not unusual for people to experience a huge disruption in their lifestyle, which can make the likelihood of getting adrenal fatigue even higher.
The best thing you can do is to try to keep the other parts of your life as together as possible. If you can, keep going on those morning walks. Make sure you still eat as well as you can. If you really need to, talk to a therapist about any emotions you don’t think you can handle.
As always, you can also take adrenal support supplements to give you an extra boost and help get you through it without your adrenals having to suffer, too.
What is YOUR personal risk?
Are you interested in figuring out your own personal risk for getting adrenal fatigue? Dozens of factors play into our adrenal health, so it’s important to look at every area of our lives to determine what we can do to keep our adrenal system as healthy as possible. This checklist will provide you with an idea of your level of risk, as well as show you which areas you can work on to improve your adrenal health.