Adrenal fatigue on the rise – seven signs you might be suffering

Your adrenal glands are situated on top of your kidneys and are where your primary stress hormones are made – hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that are produced in response to stress. Clarissa Berry, Nutritionist for DIRTEA, explained: “Their role is to prepare your body to fight or flee from a stressor.

Historically, these stressors would likely have been physical ones, like tigers and avalanches, so our stress hormones adapted to favour rapid, effective, physical action.

“They enhance blood flow to the heart, lungs and muscles, and in so doing divert energy from less imminently vital tasks like digestion and detoxification.

“This is called the ‘stress response’ and is intended to be temporary: see a bear, run from bear, survive or die. Once the threat has gone, your biology is designed to return to normal.”

Nowadays however, it’s harder to return to our baseline ‘rest and digest’ state, said Clarissa.

“Stress comes in many forms and is seemingly never-ending.

“We’re under increasing amounts of emotional, relational, financial, environmental and physical stress: unread emails, arguments with a loved one, environmental toxic exposure, food intolerances, bad weather, energy bills, health worries and more add up every single day and keep our bodies in an extended state of activation.

“Chronic stress unchecked means that your body stays in the stress response, causing your hormones to become dysregulated, the adrenal glands to become fatigued and a cascade of negative health outcomes.”

Clarissa offered some signs that your adrenals need support.

1. Fatigue that you can’t shake and difficulty getting started in the mornings

Clarissa said: “This can be a sign that your adrenals are struggling, particularly if you’re dealing with chronic stress.”

2. Reliance on stimulants like caffeine

Clarissa said: “If your stress hormones are out of whack and you’re feeling a lot of fatigue, you might find yourself relying heavily on caffeine to stay alert and “feel human”. This can also be a sign of poor sleep.”

3. Sugar cravings

Clarissa said: “Similarly, fatigue can lead to increased sugar cravings as your body seeks external sources of energy.

“Instead of leaning into these cravings, try to nourish your body with whole foods, protein and healthy fats to keep your blood sugar balanced and nutrient intake up.”

4. Salt cravings

Clarissa said: “Unlike sugar cravings, you may want to heed your salt cravings. The adrenal glands require a lot of salt to function, so salt cravings can be a sign that your adrenals are working overdrive.

“Contrary to popular belief, salt is not inherently bad for you (although contraindicated in certain cases of high blood pressure).

“Make sure to choose a quality sea salt or Himalayan rock salt and to eat foods rich in potassium and magnesium too.”

5. Low tolerance to stress

Clarissa said: “When your stress load is high and your adrenals are overworked, a seemingly tiny event can feel enormous and unsurpassable.”

6. Frequent illness

Clarissa said: “Chronic stress and adrenal fatigue can impact the immune system, causing reduced immunity and leading to frequent illness.” 

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