I’ve found myself in conversations about adrenal exhaustion with a number of friends lately. These 6 little known symptoms of adrenal fatigue, in particular, are usually overlooked.
It seems that everywhere you go, folks are having trouble with their hormones. It doesn’t seem to matter if the person is male or female; although women do seem to voice their challenges more readily than men!
Men are certainly having their share of issues as well even if they don’t talk about it .. just note the number of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) pharmaceutical ads on the TV! I realize that ED indicates cardiovascular problems, but the fact is that hormones going haywire (like insulin which is a hormone) is the likely precursor to the circulatory problems. Men with a normal fasting blood glucose simply do not suffer from ED like men who have Metabolic Syndrome.
It is quite obvious at least to me that our nation is suffering from a national epidemic of adrenal exhaustion. Most people can’t even seem to get out of bed and start their day without a large infusion of caffeine. This is not normal, folks! There is a Starbucks or a coffee cafe of some kind on nearly every corner and everywhere you go candy is on display so people can keep the sugar and caffeine fix going all day long. Here’s a fact that cannot be ignored: there is no quicker way to age your body than to drink coffee and consume refined sugar.
It is quite shocking how quickly heavy coffee drinkers age (they get grey hair so young!), and I tell everyone I know who drinks it to get off it to improve their health. Coffee is an adrenal gland killer and you simply will not have the success you seek in solving your hormone problems without getting it out of your life completely. Even decaf coffee has its health challenges. This article details the health risks of drinking decaf coffee.
Hint: most decaf is processed with toxic solvents. If you must drink it, only EVER drink organic decaf made via the Swiss water method.
It also appears that coffee drinking is associated with increased estrogen levels. In our chemical-filled world with estrogen mimickers everywhere, this is not good news. Eliminating coffee from your diet is a must if you want normalized hormones (1).
Tips for Recovering from Adrenal Exhaustion
In the paragraphs below I will give you a few tips for starting yourself down the path of hormone health. But, I will also warn you that entrenched hormonal challenges are very difficult to rectify and will likely require the guidance of a naturopathic physician.
The good news is that you can get a long way down the path yourself with simple dietary changes. Here are a few to get you started.
Get off all Corn Syrup to Save your Adrenals
The very first step to combating hormone issues is to get yourself and your family completely (that means 100% – no exceptions) off of corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. This includes agave syrup, which is processed similarly.
Go through your pantry and throw away everything that has either of these items listed as an ingredient. If you start at one end of a regular grocery store and work your way to the other side reading ingredient labels, you would be shocked to see that the vast majority of processed foods contain this deadly ingredient.
Why are corn syrup and HFCS so bad for your hormones? This type of sweetener quickly causes insulin resistance (note the number of overweight, diabetic kids these days) and encourages fat to accumulate in your middle. Belly fat is REALLY bad, folks. Belly fat and a large waist measurement quickly lead to insulin resistance and Metabolic Syndrome with the accompanying risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
The good news is that avoiding corn syrup and HFCS is relatively easy. Just cut out soda (are you STILL drinking this stuff or even giving it to your kids? Shame on you!), and start buying your food at a health food store, as most products in a health food store do not contain corn syrup and HFCS. These health food store alternative products may contain refined sugar, but refined sugar is not nearly as hormonally disrupting as corn syrup/HFCS.
Slay the Sugar Monster
Once you have weaned yourself off of corn syrup/HFCS, you can get to work eliminating refined sugar from your life. This will go a long way toward resolving intractable symptoms of adrenal exhaustion. This article lays out the steps to get off sugar for good, indulging in only natural sugars a few times a week and keeping overall sugar consumption under 36 grams per day to keep immunity strong.
Getting yourself off refined sugars will rest your adrenal glands considerably. You will notice your energy levels improve steadily taking this step toward hormonal wellness. The key to energy is steady insulin; no more peaks and valleys when refined sugars are out of the picture!
Zap the Caffeine Habit
The next step is to eliminate or greatly reduce the caffeine habit. Caffeine is another adrenal killer and is very aging to the body.
Coffee and energy drinks are the worst of the worst when it comes to caffeine. You simply must get off of it, no excuses!
And don’t get sucked in by the arguments that coffee is loaded with antioxidants or all those “sponsored by the coffee industry” studies showing coffee benefits.
The cons of all that caffeine greatly outweigh the antioxidants. You can get lots of antioxidants from many other caffeine-free foods. An organic decaf has as many antioxidants and far less caffeine, as one simple example.
These recipes give you some delicious options for natural wake-me-ups: healthy coffee substitutes like a dandelion latte.
And, did you know that caffeine can contribute to back pain issues indirectly related to adrenal health?
Tea, either white, black, green, matcha or oolong, is much less of a problem as tea contains the amino acid l-theanine that greatly slows caffeine absorption. And, if you are pregnant and drinking coffee .. well, don’t be surprised if you have a colicky infant that doesn’t sleep well. Infants can experience caffeine withdrawal too. Remember, this stuff is a drug!
Be careful of yerba mate too. Most folks don’t even know that one cup of this popular herbal tea from South America contains almost as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Sleep and Exercise both Critical to Adrenals
The last two tips for helping to normalize your hormones and resolving adrenal exhaustion is getting good quality sleep and regular exercise – but not too strenuous (no marathons or triathlons!) You simply must get decent sleep to normalize your hormones. It’s not only the amount of sleep but when you sleep that is important. For example, your gall bladder flushes between 11 pm and 1 am each night. If you are not sleeping during this time, the toxin flush does not happen which can cause a backup of toxins in your liver. This can further destabilize your hormones, so get to bed by 10 pm!
If you have insomnia, this article details strategies for resolving sleeplessness naturally. Note also that a toxic mattress can harm sleep as well. We use an INTELLIbed in our home and have for many years (check out the Organix line here).
The best type of exercise for normalizing the hormones is rebounding. Rebounding helps stimulate the flow of the lymphatic fluid around the body which assists greatly with detoxification and hormone normalization.
I realize that the topic of adrenal exhaustion and hormonal imbalance is extremely complicated and is a multi-year journey for those with seemingly intractable issues. Despite the complexity of the subject, there are still a few, basic lifestyle changes that can make an incredible impact on the normalization of your hormones. Hopefully, this brief blog will motivate you to take action with the most basic steps required for hormonal wellness to bring out the happy, healthy, vital you that you know is inside!
What Your Adrenals are REALLY Telling You
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency
I am so confused, the articles by Dr. Mercola you have in this post completely contradict your point. In fact the key words you used, Rhumatoid Arthritis and Estrogen, are not even mentioned in the articles. All this did was completely discredit your knowledge and my faith in your info is gone. Fid you even read the articles? They are all about the HEALTH BENIFITS OF COFFEE!
Oh my…I have SUCH hard time not drinking coffee and I thought I’d drink only decaf but now you’re saying decaf is still bad…My first, though superficial reason that I am trying to stop drinking coffee is because of my liver spots (melasma – are they the same thng?) and I have read and heard how it all starts in the adrenals that your hormones get out of whack.
This is so sad. I love my coffee but knowing all the cons of it makes me feel bad about drinking it.
Super post. Very encouraging…time to kick the coffee habit. To bad it tastes SOOO good! 🙁 But having good energy and healthy hormones is so much more important. Thanks!
Does anyone know which supplements are safe to use when having adrenal fatigue and being pregnant? Is adrenal from nutricology safe?
Dawn- It’s been forever since you posed your question, but I thought I would follow up just in case you, or someone else, happens upon this post.
When I was first diagnosed with adrenal issues, everyone kept telling me to be in bed by 10. Being a night owl, I fought that concept. I couldn’t figure out why it mattered WHEN I went to bed, if I still got 8 hours of sleep. And then I happened upon the answer. When we sleep, our hormones go through a cascade. One goes off first and then sets off the next one, and so on, and so on. When this happens, we get our most healing sleep, the way nature intended. But when we stay up late, the cascade doesn’t happen.
Our adrenals have several bursts throughout the day that keep us going, up and alert. At 11 p.m., they set off one last small burst. It is the burst that starts the entire cascade. If we aren’t asleep by that time, then instead the brain tells the adrenals that sleep is not happening and that the burst of energy will be needed to keep you up instead of doing the healing cascade. Once you go to bed at 2, you’ve completely missed out on it all together. You sleep, but your hormones haven’t healed you.
This is probably why they say that people who do work the night shift have 6-10 years taken off their life span. I realize for some it is a necessity, but it really does fight against what nature intended and that is for us to sleep -and heal- when it is dark.
Thank you so much for taking the time to explain that, it was very helpful.
I have a question that’s been gnawing at me: why are circadian rhythms, cortisol rhythms etc. based on the clock? If someone works a night shift, things are different. So why not base it on the number of hours you woke up, or something like that? Or, is it in relation to the sun? I’m so confused! I’ve also heard that the hours of sleep between 7 and 9 am are the most refreshing….hmmmmm.