Feeling “tired and wired”? Can’t shake daily “foggy mom brain”? Combating adrenal fatigue doesn’t necessarily mean you have to ditch the caffeine, there are many nutritional and lifestyles changes to try, so don’t despair. I recently was feeling seriously overwhelmed, trying to get a million things done with just not enough time in the day for myself or my son. I not only was pushing my body and mind to the limit but was definitely feeling my emotional and relationship health stretching thin. And then I realized most of my symptoms and consequences were very reminiscent of an all too often overlooked condition (especially for new mamas), adrenal fatigue.
What you might be experiencing if you have adrenal fatigue:
- chronic anxiety, sleep problems, or feelings of being overwhelmed; feeling “tired and wired”
- problems with concentration or what I call brain fog (or “mom brain”)
- digestive problems ranging from irritable bowel to not regular bowel movements
- cravings for sugar, fat, or salt and stubborn belly fat
- low sex drive or rollercoaster emotions
- Inflammation that can cause premature aging
- Sick often
- Feeling tired even after getting a full night’s sleep
Your adrenal glands are two small triangle shaped glands, which secrete hormones, located above your kidneys. They only weigh a few ounces but are certainly essential to our overall health and survival. The most well known hormones they secrete are adrenaline and cortisol which together help regulate a vast array of different processes in your body from your immunity, regulating blood sugar, fat storage, and metabolism, sexual drive, hormonal cycle, inflammation, and our fight-or-fight response. So needless to say when the adrenal glands aren’t able to secrete these hormones adequately A LOT of things can go wrong. These mighty little glands tend to get fatigued from prolonged and consistent stress, poor sleep habits, and/or a diet low in fruits and veggies and high in refined grains.
Root causes of adrenal fatigue (‘cause you know it has to start somewhere):
- Food intolerances or allergies
- Imbalanced microbiome
- Overload of environmental toxins
- Compromised immune system
- Prolonged stress
Some steps you can take today to help rescue your adrenals and yourself:
- Really get in touch with your diet and start working towards Mediterranean-esque food choices: increase intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, herbs and spices plus lots of food with healthy fats like fish, flax, chia, and hemp seeds
- Give meditation a try or coloring or reading for fun or (like in the picture) sitting under a waterfall, de-stress is the name of the game
- Eat small and frequent meals to balanced your blood sugar
- Eliminate refined sugars and replace with complex carbohydrates (think whole grains and starchy vegetables)
- Eat protein with every meal (mostly nuts beans, legumes and the plant based proteins)
- Try slowly decreasing caffeine consumption by swapping with substitutes like golden milk or herbal tea (I went cold turkey and while the first three days were pretty rough, I felt like a million bucks after that)
- REALLY work on a healthy sleep routine: rise early, go to bed early, reduce or eliminate alcohol, and reduce screen time before bed
- Try to add any low impact and restorative physical activity like swimming or yoga
- Essential adrenal nutrients include protein, folate, B3, B5, vitamin C and magnesium so eat foods high in these nutrients or think about supplementing
These are just a few ideas of ways to get your adrenals back into balance, although of course everyBODY is completely different so some things may work for some that don’t work for others. I believe the biggest thing is focusing on decreasing the immense stress and pressure we put on ourselves and stepping back to soak life in and not just race off to the next thing, your adrenals will thank you.
Alex McKee is the nutritionist and founder of Nourishing Roots PNW. She provides online and in-person nutritional counseling in order to empower women and new mamas to establish nourishing roots on which to begin their wellness journey. Her mission is to heal the body, mind, and soul through a holistic and collaborative approach.