It seems like the problem that is plaguing society nowadays is adrenal fatigue. Everyone is asking what it is, wondering if they have it, and if they do, how to cure it? In this article, I explain what exactly adrenal fatigue is, and how one might develop it.
What are the adrenals?
The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. Their whole purpose is to excrete adrenaline. This hormone helps increase the rate of blood circulation, breathing, carbohydrate metabolism, and muscle exertion. When you’re in a stressful situation the brain sends a message down to the adrenal glands. The glands then excrete adrenaline or cortisol, and suddenly you have the energy to perform.
What is adrenal fatigue?!
Adrenal fatigue happens when you live in high stress for too long. Your adrenal glands are designed to fire immediately so that you can activate fight or flight during a high-stress period. The problem is that modern-day life creates stress for hours, days, months, or even years. These glands are designed like sprint muscles, to crank out adrenaline and then relax. But the lifestyle most people are living doesn’t allow for the relaxation component to take place, so the adrenals cannot recover. Just like a muscle, if you work it over and over again you feel fatigue: if you use your adrenals over and over again, they tire as well.
What causes adrenal fatigue?
Chronic stress causes adrenal fatigue, but this can manifest itself in many different ways. Located in the back of the head is the brain stem. On the top of the brainstem is the fight or flight part of our brain and just below that is the rest and recovery. These two sections live on a constant teeter-totter. When you get stressed, it fires up your fight or flight response and suppresses your rest and recovery response. When the stress goes away, you can recuperate. Your brain adapts to what your body does a lot of. If you’re in a state of chronic stress your brain gets good at keeping you stressed, and you lose your ability to relax and recover. When you stay in this place of imbalance over time, it leads to adrenal fatigue.
Stress can happen in many different ways, some of which you may not recognize. For example, workouts like HIIT, cycling, or kickboxing can fire up your adrenals, and cause your body to pump out cortisol. If your body is constantly pumping out cortisol this can prevent weight loss. Another significant stressor is food. Most of the food that is a part of people’s everyday diet creates inflammation in the gut, which sets off a physiological stress response. Your body doesn’t know if you’re working out, running for your life, or eating processed food: the response is the same. I want you to think about the areas of your life where you could be putting your body in a stressed state and not even know it.
If you are interested in the symptoms of adrenal fatigue and how to recover from it naturally check out my two other articles covering both topics.