You’re so tired when the alarm goes off in the morning that you end up pressing the snooze button multiple times before finally hauling your butt out of bed. Your first hit of coffee for the day doesn’t exactly have you jumping out of your skin with energy so you end up downing another, and another. You find yourself having a mid-afternoon slump where your energy levels feel so low that the thought of crawling into bed sounds like heaven. Not to mention the fact that you may be undergoing some level of stress on top of what seems to be an overwhelming feeling of tiredness……….

I think it’s fair to assume that most of us have had days like this. Some on occasion whilst others may feel as if it’s a daily occurrence. So if you’ve asked yourself the question of whether or not you are getting enough sleep – which is the first question I ask when I’m approached about ways to combat fatigue and tiredness – and you believe that are getting sufficient rest, then we need to look at another possible cause. The chances are that you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue.

What are the adrenals? Your adrenals are glands that are located on top of your kidneys. They are responsible for producing hormones that help your body to alleviate and combat stress such as cortisol. They are also in charge of producing adrenalin, which is the hormone responsible for giving you a jolt of energy and alertness, which is the feeling you would get from a cup of coffee, or when engaging in some form of exciting or even frightening activity such as skydiving or hopping on a roller coaster (hence the term ‘adrenalin-rush’). You feel awake, alert and full of energy. However, the problem with Adrenal Fatigue lies when your body undergoes enormous and continuous levels of stress from various stressors (worries or anxiety about family, health, money, etc) or is being overstimulated on a constant regular basis to produce higher levels of adrenalin. Think of those individuals who consume 4 or 5 (or even more) cups of coffee daily. That continuous surge of stress, as well as over stimulation from consuming copious amounts of caffeine, will eventually take it’s toll on your poor adrenals and may leave you with a feeling of being “burned-out”. In fact, one of the best ways to tell if you may have adrenal fatigue is if you no longer feel energised and alert after consuming a caffeine-based beverage such as coffee or cola. You may even feel your tiredness levels worsen after having such beverages. Other symptoms to consider for Adrenal Fatigue include:

Weakened Immunity – where you may be suffering from more colds and flus than usual.
Cravings for salty foods increase – with Adrenal Fatigue, a chemical in our kidneys known as aldosterone may be reduced and will result in the body peeing out an array of minerals which the body would normally require.

Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of quality nutritional and herbal support to help overcome Adrenal Fatigue. Here are three considerations:

Nutrient-Dense Food: You’ve heard of superfoods. These are foods that contain generous amounts of nutrients such as your vitamins, minerals and amino acids. By consuming these foods on a regular basis, you give your body the nutritional foundations that it requires to help support the systems in the body that are affected by adrenal fatigue such as:

Nervous system (through minerals such as Magnesium and Potassium)
Immune system (through Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin A and Zinc)
Cardiovascular system (through Vitamin E, CoQ10, Magnesium and antioxidants)

Examples of such foods include Broccoli, Kale, Cacao, Spirulina, Acai Berry, Goji Berry, other berries such as Blueberries, Raspberries and Strawberries, Chia Seeds, Coconut and Quinoa. Have a variety of these foods on a daily basis, whether if it’s part of a main meal or as part of a snack such as a smoothie or juice.

Specific Adrenal-loving nutrients: When it comes to specific nutrients to target the adrenals, Vitamin C and Vitamin B5 are the two that step up to the plate.

Vitamin C is not normally stored in the body for a long period of time as it’s a water-soluble vitamin. However, the highest concentration is stored in the adrenals. When your body produces cortisol to help you combat stress, your body draws down on your levels of vitamin C in order to produce adequate cortisol levels. This is more significant in people who smoke. We all know of someone who smokes to help deal with stress. The problem here is that a single cigarette can rob the body of up to 40mg. So if you have someone who is dealing with stress that has a terrible diet and is a regular smoker, the need for Vitamin C is crucial.

Think of Vitamin C if you feel that stress is overwhelming. Supplementation of Vitamin C is recommended. However, you can also obtain Vitamin C from food sources such as strawberries, capsicum, cacao (organic and raw), camu-camu berry and kale.

Vitamin B5: All B vitamins are important when it comes to dealing with stress. However, it’s Vitamin B5 that is specifically crucial to adrenal health as it’s involved in the production of cortisol within the adrenal gland.

Again, you could consider a B vitamin supplements that contains an adequate level of B5. Great food sources include Sunflower Seeds, Avocado, Mushroom, Broccoli and Tomatoes.

Adrenal-supporting herbs: As a herbalist, I can never go without herbs for treating various health conditions. With adrenal fatigue, nature has blessed us with wonderful plants to support and nurture adrenal health. These include:

Licorice – No not the type you buy from Darrell Lea. The Licorice root contains a valuable substance known as Glycyrrhizin that has been shown in studies to nurture and restore the centre of the adrenals known as the adrenal cortex. It is here that certain hormones such as cortisol is produced.

Rhodiola – A beautiful herb from Russia and Northern China. Rhodiola has the action of an adaptogen, which is a term describing a substance that can help an individual to adapt to stress. Nature has given us many herbs that has adaptogenic activity, and Rhodiola is one that has been scientifically verified to demonstrate such an action. Various Russian trials very its action in improving both emotional and physical stress with the greatest actions demonstrated in athletes. Hence why Rhodiola has become such an important part of many athletes’ regime of health maintenance and performance. Rhodiola also has tonic activity which can improve energy production.

Other notable adaptogen herbs include Siberian Ginseng, Schisandra and Withania.

So if you feel as if your adrenals need an overhaul, give some of these suggestions a try!

Victor Tuballa
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