by Donna Gates
Feeling exhausted? Low on willpower? Having difficulty losing weight? These are common symptoms of thyroid malfunction but you may want to think again. Many hypothyroid symptoms are so similar to adrenal fatigue symptoms that the two are often confused.
On top of this confusion, tests for thyroid and adrenal problems are often difficult to interpret correctly. Some doctors believe that even if you had low thyroid function it could be adrenal stress causing the problem to begin with, which would be difficult to diagnose without more tests.
Creating energy in a person’s body is essential in order to establish, regain or maintain health…and it’s your adrenals and your thyroid efficiently working together that really supply you with energy.
Your adrenals, two walnut-sized organs that sit on top of your kidneys, are the workhorses of your body. If you are exhausted, chances are, your adrenals – AND their partner the thyroid – need attention.
What happens when the adrenals and thyroid have lost their oomph? Your digestive system, the organs in your brain (e.g., hypothalamus and pituitary), your liver, endocrine system, sexual organ system, heart and central nervous system all suffer.
Adrenals and Stress
The adrenals are life saving organs because they control your body’s hormones and help you survive in stressful situations. They act as control organs for your “fight or flight” response and secrete many of our most important hormones including pregnenolone, adrenaline, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol.
Cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone, does have important some life-sustaining tasks. For example, cortisol helps prepare your body for survival in stressful situations, metabolize carbohydrates, protein and fats into energy, slow the immune system’s inflammatory response, regulate the balance of converting insulin in breaking down sugar for energy and helps maintain your cardiovascular health and blood pressure.
Cortisol becomes the “death hormone” when levels remain too high – which it does under chronic stress. The human body was designed to respond effectively to stress and then have periods of rest in between. Unfortunately, our modern day society is so full of constant stressors that we are no longer having that time of rest.
There is an eloquent connection between your adrenals and your brain. These organs are constantly in communication with each other using chemical messengers (or hormones) that flow between the adrenals, the hypothalamus and the pituitary. The adrenal-hypothalamus-pituitary feedback loop regulates the secretion of cortisol.
When your adrenals are constantly stressed this sets off an autoimmune inflammatory response in your entire body. All of your organs AND your immunity are impacted negatively by the resulting constant assault of cortisol.
Another victim is DHEA that your brain obtains from your adrenals. DHEA, the” youth hormone” is the most abundant hormone in the body and your brain has an enormous “appetite” for DHEA. Cortisol suppresses DHEA and chronically elevated corisol levels will severely starve the brain of it.
When you understand all these connections, it is easy to see why there is such a wide-range of symptoms when the adrenals start to burn out.
Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue are:
1. Cravings for sugar
2. for salt on food when you eat
3. Feeling dehydrated and thirsty and require plenty of water
4. Difficulty falling asleep at night, sleep lightly or wake early or often
5. Difficulty relaxing, nervous, anxious or hyperactive
6. Often spacey, or foggy thinking, even memory loss
7. Lack willpower to accomplish
8. General exhaustion
9. Hormone imbalances
10. Low libido
11. gain, especially in abdomen and waist area
12. Losing muscle tone
13. Sagging skin, dry, yellow or pale in color
14. Hair starting to gray, thin out and become dry
15. Lips losing their color
16. Loss of appetite
18. Weight loss
19. Blood sugar
I believe adrenal fatigue is an underlying factor in just about every physical, emotional and spiritual problem we are suffering from today.
7 Foods and Lifestyle Habits that Tax Your Adrenals AND Healthy Alternatives
By now you know how a stressful lifestyle affects your adrenals, but what about diet?
What you eat absolutely affects the health of your adrenals. The worst offenders create an acidic condition in your blood and rob your body of precious vitamins and minerals.
Certain nutrients, especially B-Vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals are essential for feeding your adrenals. Of these, perhaps most important are minerals (sodium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, etc).
Here are some common foods, drinks and lifestyle habits that contribute to adrenal fatigue AND what to choose instead:
– Instead: Use stevia – an all-natural herbal sweetener that gives you a sweet taste without feeding candida, raising your blood sugar or robbing your body of minerals. Be sure to only use the powdered stevia leaf or natural liquid extracts, not the highly processed white powders.
– Instead: Replace your morning cup of adrenaline boosting coffee with far superior options. Vitality SuperGreen – this gut-healing green drink is full of the nutrients that your adrenals and thyroid love. On top of that, it provides a natural source of energy for your body. One ounce of black currant juice in 4 – 6 ounces of water kefir is another fantastic alternative.
3. Too much animal protein – most people don’t have enough stomach acid to digest large amounts of animal protein properly, creating an acidic condition in their blood.
– Instead: follow the 80/20 rule and enjoy meals with 80% vegetables and 20% protein. Fermented foods and liquids are a must for digestion of proteins. That means animal proteins and vegetable proteins.
4. Processed foods strip your body of minerals making your blood acidic and your adrenals weaken quickly. Over time you will look and feel older than your age. This is one of the most important anti-aging secrets to delay and even reverse old age.
– Instead: change your diet step-by-step and immediately introduce at least one fermented foods or liquids into your diet. These are the new and true “fast foods” of today. They are quickly becoming the new &88220;stars” in the natural foods industry.
5. Soda pop
– Instead: To make a new healthier “soda pop” pour a small amount of your favorite fermented liquid into a glass. Add sparkling mineral water and stevia to taste. If you are a parent or a grandparent please introduce your own little ones to this great alternative. Then watch their health and their behavior change for the better.
6. Drugs – this includes over the counter, recreational and prescription drugs.
– Instead: Learn about natural alternatives for the medications you take and work with your medical practitioner to make the switch. The great news is that improving your diet will automatically decrease your need for many medications.
– Instead: Get plenty of rest and heal negative emotions. Take time for self-care routines like meditation, yoga, deep breathing and getting plenty of sleep. Negative thoughts and emotions can sabotage your best efforts at relaxing. Try effective emotional clearing approaches like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Just like diet, thoughts and emotions become habits. EFT is a great way to easily change these thought habits and start healing your emotional health.
Let’s face it, we are all so busy we often don’t take time out for ourselves – to rest, relax, breathe or nourish ourselves in the ways we wish we could. Often, it’s because we fall into “doing,” putting off self-care until “someday when we have the time.”;
After awhile, our busy lives and diets become habits that feel “too hard” to change. In some ways, breaking this addiction-to-being-busy habit means stepping out of easily and starting anew…and even that takes time we don’t think we have.
And yet, in the end, it’s energy, vitality and just plain feeling good that we all truly seek. It’s the only way we can truly be happy. The vital constitutional energy that is stored in our adrenals is essential to reaching old age looking and feeling like a teenager. Interestingly, just a few changes – maybe just one step in the right direction of healing your adrenals (and don’t forget your thyroid) – can be just what you need.
Donna Gates is the international bestselling author of The Body Ecology Diet, The Baby Boomer Diet: Anti-Aging Wisdom For Every Generation, and Stevia: Cooking with Nature’s Calorie-Free Sweetener. While completing her fellowship with American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, her mission is to change the way the world eats. Over the past 25 years, Donna has become one of the most loved and respected authorities in the field of digestive health, diet, and nutrition, enjoying a worldwide reputation as an expert in candida, adrenal fatigue, autism, autoimmune diseases, weight loss and anti-aging.