Few people know about adrenal fatigue. What is it?
Mary-Lou Harris (FdSc, Dip ION, ITEC) senior nutritionist of New You Boot Camp says that Adrenal Fatigue is when the body’s stress threshold’ is exceeded.’ This is usually due to medium to long term stress (even internal low level stress) or extended periods of eating a refined foods/fast foods/high stimulant diet. Mary-Lou says that our endocrine (stress hormones) system still works in the same way that it did when we were cave people¦it is only our external environment that has changed. Our jungle just looks different, and we no longer recognise the ‘Tiger’s ¦it does not mean they are not there¦.emotional and environmental stress, alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs, caffeine, and sugar are all examples of modern day tigers’ and a prolonged experience of these puts us in the familiar Fight or Flight syndrome.
Is it a cause for concern among fitness fans? If so, why?
Yes, Mary-Lou says that it is a cause for concern amongst fitness fans, as one of the stress hormones released by the adrenal glands (cortisol) raises your blood sugar levels too quickly (for the energy to fight or run away from the tiger which will fairly quickly upset your blood sugar balance, causing low energy and an inability to recover from exertion as fast as you need to when exercising. Cortisol also increases inflammation which is an absolute NO in the world of fitness, as this is commonly associated with heart attacks. Other health difficulties associated with adrenal fatigue and excess cortisol production is hormone imbalance¦especially in female athletes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, energy dips and fatigue (including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), digestive imbalance and many more. It is essential to manage the health of your adrenal glands.
Do you think adrenal fatigue is becoming more common? If so, is there a particular demographic of people you see suffering from symptoms (e.g. women/men in there 30-60s, city workers, extreme fitness fans etc)
In you experience, who’s at highest risk of adrenal fatigue?
In Mary-Lou’s experience as a Nutritionist and Wellbeing Therapist, Adrenal Fatigue (which precedes Adrenal Exhaustion (e.g. Chronic Fatigue and other stressful health conditions) is one of the most common health problems facing our modern day world. It is now termed 21st Century Syndrome.
Most people are not aware of it as an underlying health concern, as they only look at symptoms, and do not appreciate that they come from tired adrenal glands.
The most at risk are shift workers, and party animal¦especially those who frequently burn the midnight oil or beyond, and couple that with drug and/or alcohol/cigarette intake.
People who eat a grab and go type refined carbohydrate and coffee/fizzy drinks diet. City workers, taxi drivers etc typically fall into this category. Mary-Lous experience suggests that women are often more susceptible, as many are juggling career and family. Having said that, any person-male or female- who is given to high emotional sensitivity, or has deep unresolved emotional issues from their past (even as far back as small childhood) is at risk of adrenal fatigue.
Younger people can also experience this problem as it can start as early as at birth.Mary-Lou is dedicated to keeping her pregnant mothers as stress free as possible, as pregnant women who are very stressed during pregnancy, or had stressful lives prior to pregnancy, can borrow support from their baby’s newly forming adrenal glands (during third trimester) . This means that the baby is born ‘on the back foot’ as Mary-Lou puts it as their resources to manage stress are depleted. This is usually accompanied by a stressful home environment, as the circumstances that gave rise to the mothers depleted adrenal state often continues post birth, so the child’s adrenals become more and more tired as they get older.
What are the common signs of adrenal fatigue among fitness fans (e.g. below par performance, all-day exhaustion etc)?
How to you treat adrenal fatigue?
Mary-Lou helps her clients to change their food/drink programme to a more supportive blood sugar balancing and adrenally supportive one.
EGGS: Science has now fully debunked the myth that eggs raise cholesterol. We now know that eggs in fact SUPPORT cholesterol, as the egg yolk helps to manage cortisol. She recommends starting your day with a breakfast that includes 2 eggs as they have the effect of natural tranquilisers
PUMPKIN SEEDS: These nutty tasting seeds are powerhouses of magnesium, which is known as Natures Relaxing Mineral
OILY FISH: There is an abundance of research that shows how oily fish (Omega 3s and minerals like zinc) support not only stable blood sugars and mood, but also immunity, which is common in adrenal fatigue.
BROWN RICE: Contains B vitamins and magnesium.-both essential for mood and blood sugar balance, and repair and weight management.
PROBIOTICS and other digestive support supplements, as stress and factors leading to adrenal fatigue quickly reduce digestive function.
Mary-Lou (as a Functional Medicine Practitioner) puts her clients onto specialised adrenal support supplements to help with repair and recovery so that they may function normally.