It’s easy to assume that tired is the new normal. That feeling permanently lethargic, constantly stressed and never fully energized is just a function of dealing with the day-to-day balancing act that is family, kids, relationship, job, career and self care.
And with increasing stress levels prominent amongst society, job demands increasing all the time, and the seemingly never-ending to do list at home, it’s easy to make said assumption. But what if it’s more than you assume?
There are these glands called your adrenal glands in your body which work really hard, but are regularly overworked. They are the ones responsible for controlling our stress response: helping us be able to act and react to events in our life, such as a stressful day at work or quickly swerve on the road to avoid an accident. But constant physical and psychological stress, such as lots of exercise or a hard job, respectively, can put an increased burden on the adrenal system and inhibit it from optimally functioning. When this occurs you set yourself up for compensated adrenal function, decreased stress response and the all-to-familiar state of constant fatigue, low mood and lethargy. And you also set yourself up for adrenal fatigue: the condition not always recognized in mainstream medicine, where your adrenals stop performing their job and leave you in a permanently stressed and tired state.
If that sounds like you, or if you just know that you are really stressed out, all the time, here’s what you can do to help:
Increase your magnesium – Magnesium is one of the main minerals which impacts the health of the adrenal glands, and which is responsible for helping with the stress response cycle. It is a critical mineral to keep in store to combat all areas of stress to the body, including physical stress from exercise and psychological stress from work, relationships and day-to-day life. The adrenal glands work with calcium to regulate electrical impulses within the cells. One area of responsibility for these electrical impulses is the response to stress, which is regulated by both calcium and magnesium. When we stressed regularly and our adrenals are working harder, magnesium is depleted more quickly and we need to focus on consuming adequate amounts for restoring the magnesium content within our body.
Get your vitamins – While magnesium may be the stress mineral, Vitamin B is the stress vitamin; in particular, Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid. Vitamin B is found in dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ and legumes, and certain B vitamins are also produced by the gut. If you have an unhealthy gut biome however, production may be compensated and you may not be getting adequate amounts. In addition to Vitamin B5, Vitamin D is another important vitamin to focus on as it is needed for the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D plays a key role in bone health, as well as in helping us sleep. If you find that you are struggling with insomnia, have tired, sore bones that hurt to touch, or seem to be getting a lot of muscle cramps, lack of Vitamin D may be to blame. Spend some more time out in the sunshine, or take a Vitamin D supplement to increase your stores!
Rest – It’s no surprise that one of the best things you can do (and need to do) to support your adrenals is rest. Not only physically rest, establish better sleep hygiene and exert your body less, but also rest your mind. Much of the stress we experience originates or is harbored by our mind and thoughts and reducing stress (and the strain on the adrenal glands), requires periods of conscious de-stressing and shutting off your mind. Work on finding ways of de-stressing that are effective for you, such as yoga or meditation, establish a healthy sleep routine that encourages more shut-eye, and don’t forget to take time off and give yourself a break!
Nourish and Boost – Don’t forget that to be at your best, to heal your body and to absorb nutrients optimally, you need to fuel and nourish your body. You need to consume a whole foods diet, based mostly in plants, that is free from refined sugar, processed foods and artificial ingredients. Doing this will ensure you consume foods such as leafy greens, berries, sweet potato and ancient grains, that are rich in the essential vitamins and minerals listed above. In addition, you can boost your adrenal health using these superfoods:
- Baobab Powder – A superfood powder made from the fruit of the Baobab tree, this powder is rich in magnesium and also high in Vitamin C, serving an incredible boost of antioxidants to the body.
- Raw Cacao – Yes it’s true, you can boost your adrenal health with chocolate! Make your next chocolate smoothie with raw cacao and benefit from a dose of magnesium and powerful immunity boosting antioxidants at the same time.
- Ashwaganda – An adaptogen, ashwaganda acts to help the body adapt to whatever it needs to! In other words, it helps your body deal with stress more efficiently so that it will have less of a negative and compounding impact on the body.
- Chaga – A type of mushroom, chaga is also an adaptogen, as described above. In addition however, Chaga is regarded as one of the world’s greatest superfoods, high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and containing enzymes which naturally increase immune system function.
- Ginseng – A brain boosting herb, ginseng is great to consume to enhance mental alertness and promote better brain function. This in turn ensures more efficient output of brain chemicals and hormones as related to the adrenal gland.
- Seaweed – Nori, wakame, dulse, or whatever kind you prefer, seaweed is high in iodine, the essential mineral for proper thyroid function. Compensated adrenals lead to energy issues and a fully functioning thyroid is required to help regulate energy and metabolism.
If you are presenting with symptoms of constant fatigue, low energy, sore muscles and bones, and difficulty sleeping, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. I can help!