ADRENAL FATIGUE PROTOCOL : Here are a number of things that you can do to assist with managing the condition:
- Removal of the stressors: This is the most important step. Emotional stressors such as marital, family, relationship or financial problems need to be dealt with and normalized.
- Sleep: It is important is to have enough rest. Try to go to sleep by 10 pm every night.
This is required because our adrenal glands kick in for a “second wind” from 11 pm to 1 am. This puts enormous stress on the adrenals. When we rest early our adrenals are fully rested and the high gear is avoided. Between 10 pm and 1 am our adrenals work hardest to repair the body. We should also try to sleep in until 8.30 am or 9 am if possible. This is because our cortisol level rises to its peak from 6 am to 8 am in order to wake up and get us going for the day.
In the later stage of adrenal fatigue, the level of cortisol fails and we feel tired. It becomes more difficult to wake up. If we wake up to early, this will only increase stress on the adrenal glands, which will have to produce more cortisol while they are already exhausted.
A good night’s sleep is therefore mandatory. Without a good sleep, our bodies cannot regenerate to deal with stressors the next day. We should also rest in a complete dark room to maximize melatonin production.
If you are unable to fall asleep, you may want to try a herbal product called SEDAZONE. Normally taken at a dosage of 2 – 3 capsules after supper.
Another good natural sleep enhancer is called MEMORY PLUS. This product contains Bluenesse (an extract from Lemon Balm). Dosage is normally 1 capsule after supper.
A tendency to wake up at 2 – 3 am and being unable to go back to sleep, is a sign of excessive stress.
- Avoid coffee and caffeinated beverages: Coffee and tea act as stimulants and interrupt the sleep pattern. Herbal or Rooibos tea is acceptable because it does not contain caffeine.
- Avoid TV and computers: Some people may be photosensitive. Watching TV or working at the computer in the late evening may prevent melatonin levels to rise to induce sleep. If you are one of these people, you should turn off your television or computer by around 8 pm.
- Exercise: This is a wonderful stress reducer and a tremendous oxygenator. Exercise reduces depression, increases blood flow, normalizes level of cortisol, insulin, blood glucose, growth hormone, thyroid and makes you feel generally much better. You can exercise 20 to 30 minutes per day, at about 10 minutes per session.
Simple exercise such as brisk walking, or climbing stairs are easy to do and can be done almost anywhere. You should vary your routine so that exercise becomes fun. Plan to burn about 2000 – 3000 calories each week. When exercising you should try to cover the following three categories:
- Aerobics – fast walking, stairs climbing, swimming, treadmill.
- Anaerobics – weight lifting, push up, sit up, shin ups.
- Flexibility –stretching, yoga, tai chi.
- Nutritional supplementation: It is prudent to optimize the adrenal gland functions.
- Supplement with Adrenozone formula. Three capsules daily, after breakfast.
- 1000 mg – 2000 mg of Calcium ascorbate and ascorbyl palmitate (Double Vitamin C)
- Vitamin E (mixed tocotrientols and tocopherols) is another important nutrient which is involved in at least 6 different enzymatic reactions in the adrenal cascade.
- Eating pattern: While our cortisol levels are at peak from 6 am – 8 am, we may have no appetite. Many people skip breakfast because “they are not hungry”. This is because our bodies need sugar to run. Furthermore, our body’s energy requirement does not change during this period. Even a small snack is better than nothing at all and will provide the needed energy even if there is no urge to eat.
Skipping breakfast is not a good idea. If you are low on sugar, the adrenals are instructed to secrete cortisol because cortisol activates gluconeogenesis to increase blood sugar level and allow the body to function. It is therefore important to have a healthy breakfast soon after waking and not later than 10 am. This will prevent the body being put in a position of having to play “catch up” for the rest of the day.
The best time for lunch is from 11 – 11.30 am. Sometimes, a nutritious snack between 2 – 3 pm will be needed to sustain our bodies through the dip in cortisol levels that occur between 3 – 4 pm. Evening meals should be around 5 – 6 pm. Supper should be in small quantities and low in glycemic index to avoid the steep rise in blood sugar commonly seen in high glycemic index snacks such as cakes. These high GI snacks will cause the blood sugar to rise and a corresponding increase in insulin output.
Nightmares, anxiety, and night sweats.
Over time, insulin secretion becomes dysfunctional, resulting in a hypoglycemic state in the middle of the night. These symptoms are characterized by nightmares, anxiety, and night sweats. When this occurs, the body will have to activate the adrenals to put out more cortisol in order to raise the blood sugar back to its normal level. This will eventually put an excessive burden onto the already fatigued adrenal glands if carried on year after year.
- Diet: A poor or unfitting diet is one of the key and leading causes of adrenal fatigue. Without a diet that is bio-chemically and metabolically compatible with the needs of a damaged adrenal gland, complete recovery is simply not possible.
Glucose is a simple sugar found in food. It is an essential nutrient that provides energy for the proper functioning of the body cells. After meals, food is digested in the stomach and is broken down into glucose and other nutrients. The glucose is absorbed by the intestinal cells and carried by the bloodstream to cells throughout the body. However, glucose cannot enter the cells by itself. It needs assistance from insulin in order to penetrate the cell walls. Insulin therefore acts as a regulator of glucose transport and metabolism in the body.
Insulin is called the “hunger hormone”. As the blood sugar increases after a meal, the corresponding insulin level rises with the eventual lowering of the blood sugar level and glucose is transported from the blood into the cell for energy. As energy is produced by the cell, and blood glucose level slowly is lowered; the insulin release from the pancreas is turned off. As energy continues to be generated, the blood sugar level continues to drop. When it drops below a certain level, hunger is felt. This often occurs a few hours after the meal. This drop in blood sugar triggers the adrenals to make more cortisol. The cortisol increases the blood sugar by converting protein and fat into its component parts. With this, the blood sugar rises to provide a continuous supply of energy for our use between meals. Cortisol therefore works hand in hand with insulin to provide a steady blood sugar level 24 hours a day and keep blood glucose levels in a tightly controlled range.
When the adrenal glands are in a fatigued state, the amount of cortisol production drops below the normal level, and the amount of sugar available to the cells is reduced. With less sugar, less energy is available to the body and fatigue is experienced. As the sugar level drops below a critical point, dizziness and light headedness can be experienced. These are common symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Low blood sugar is most likely experienced between 10 am – 12 pm as well as 3 – 4 pm.
To make things worse, the body’s automatic response when more sugar is needed during a stress response is to make more insulin in an attempt to move the sugar into the cell from the blood stream to create more energy. Insulin opens up the cell membrane to push the glucose in, resulting in further reduction in blood glucose levels. This worsens the already existing hypoglycaemic state.
Those with adrenal fatigue often report symptoms such as dizziness and weakness, as the blood sugar level drops below a comfortable level for the body to function normally. To overcome this, the quick fix solution is to take food that is high in refined sugar such as a donut or sweets, or drinks which are stimulatory, such as coffee or cola drinks, to get the adrenals to put out more cortisol. This gives the body a boost of energy. However, this hypoglycaemic symptom relief lasts for only about 1 -2 hours. Inevitably, it is followed by a crash to an even lower blood glucose level. Those suffering from adrenal fatigue are constantly on a roller coaster ride in terms of their blood sugar level throughout the day. The sugar level tends to increase after each quick fix, but drops after a few hours. By the end of the day, the body is totally exhausted.
A diet that maintains a constant sugar level in the blood is a critical consideration in adrenal fatigue recovery. This can be done by taking a variety of low glycaemic index foods that releases sugar slowly to sustain the body during and between meals. Starchy carbohydrates that are converted quickly into glucose (such as pasta and bread) should be limited. Soda type drinks should be avoided totally.
The amount of salt in the body is highly dependant and regulated by a chemical called aldosterone. This chemical is manufactured in the adrenal cortex under the direction of another hormone called ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone). ACTH is produced by the anterior pituitary gland.
ATCH stimulates the adrenal cortex to secrete a wide variety of hormones including aldosterone as well as cortisol. Like cortisol, aldosterone follows a diurnal pattern of secretion, peaking at 8 am and is at its lowest between 12 pm – 4 am. Aldosterone is a very specific compound that is responsible for maintaining the concentration of sodium and potassium in the cells as well as outside the cell. This in turn has a direct effect on the amount of fluid in the body. Aldosterone therefore plays a significant part in regulating blood pressure.
It is important to note that in our body, sodium and water goes hand in hand. Where sodium goes, water follows. As the concentration of aldosterone rises in the body, the concentration of sodium and water rises, more fluid is retained in the body, and blood pressure rises. Conversely, when the level of aldosterone lowers, the amount of sodium and water in the body is reduced. The blood pressure goes down.
Unlike cortisol, aldosterone does not have its own negative feedback loop when there are excessive amounts. If the aldosterone level is too high, aldosterone receptor sites will be down regulated and its sensitivity to aldosterone is reduced. In the early phases of adrenal fatigue, the amount of cortisol and aldosterone increases in our body due to the ACTH stimulatory effect from stress. As a result, the sodium and water is retained in the body with a feeling of bloatedness.
The baro-receptors (receptors that are sensitive to pressure) of the blood vessels are triggered and the blood vessels go into a relaxation mode automatically and this is regulated by the autonomic nervous system. This auto regulation helps to maintain a stable blood pressure at a time when the total fluid volume increases due to a high level of aldosterone triggered by stress. With stress, the adrenal glands also secrete another hormone called epinephrine. This hormone constricts the blood vessels and increases blood pressure in order to ensure that our brain have adequate blood flow and oxygen to help us deal with impending danger. The sum reaction of aldosterone, epinephrine and the autonomic relaxation response are some of the key factors that ultimately decide the final blood pressure at any point in time. During the early stages of adrenal fatigue, the resulting blood pressure is often normal as if all bodily functions are well balanced. If the body is unable to overcome the aldosterone and epinephrine response, the blood pressure is elevated. It is common to find may people under stress, experiencing an increase in blood pressure.
As adrenal fatigue progresses to more advance stages, the amount of aldosterone production decreases. Sodium and water retention is compromised. As the fluid volume is reduced, low blood pressure ensues. Cells get dehydrated and become sodium deficient.
People with advanced adrenal fatigue normally report low blood pressure as well as salt cravings. The low blood pressure is due to the reduced fluid in the body. Salt craving is because the body is in an absolute deficiency of sodium. Both are due to the lack of aldosterone. In order to compensate for this, potassium is leaked out of the cells so that the sodium to potassium ratio remains constant. The loss of potassium is less than that of sodium, and as a result the potassium to sodium ratio is increased. This imbalance creates another set of problems.
Those suffering from adrenal fatigue often have a low body fluid volume, accompanied by a salt craving due to absolute deficiency in sodium as well as a normal to high potassium level. While lost fluid should be replaced, it has to be done carefully. When the fluid is replaced without adequate sodium, the amount of sodium in the body actually gets diluted, therefore resulting in an even lower sodium level. This is called dilutional hyponatremia, a dangerous condition that can be deadly. It is therefore important to add salt liberally to fluids that are taken in by anybody suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Commonly available electrolyte replacement drinks such as Powerade or Energade are designed for people who have normal adrenal and excessive loss of potassium during exercise. These drinks are designed to be high in potassium and low in sodium. They can be taken in as fluid replacement if adrenal fatigue is very limited. Sufferers of advanced adrenal fatigue usually have a low cortisol and sodium level. They should rather take filtered water with ½ – 1 teaspoon of salt on a regular basis, especially in the morning.
Only a small number of people with adrenal fatigue have concurrent high blood pressure. Those that fall into this category should check their blood pressure carefully during fluid replacement.
Hydration of a person in adrenal fatigue should take 24 – 48 hours. The drink should be administered 2 – 4 times a day in intermittent dosages. Coffee, alcohol and tea (with the exception of herbal tea) should be avoided.
Carbohydrate, Protein and Fats:
It is important for adrenal fatigue patients to balance the amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates. As compared to a normal person, the adrenal fatigued person has an immediate need for sugar when hunger strikes. At the same time, they also need good protein as well as good fat to have sustained energy until the next meal comes.
The primary diet should be high in raw food with a low glycaemic index. Fruit juices should be avoided. Whole fruit should be limited, especially melons, which are high in sugar and cause sugar spikes soon after the food enters the body. Good quality protein from meat, fish and eggs are recommended. These provide a steady source of energy to sustain the body between meals.
Vegetarians who have adrenal fatigue have a much bigger challenge. Legumes (beans) must be eaten with whole grains, seeds or nuts to make a complete protein. It is important for vegetarians to add eggs, miso, as well as combining beans, seeds, and nuts with a small amount of whole grain. About 50 – 60 % of the diet should consist of raw food, and 6 – 8 servings of a wide variety of vegetables should be included.
Seeds and nuts are critical elements and sources of fatty acids, required by the adrenal glands to manufacture cholesterol, a precursor to adrenal steroid hormones. The key is to take nuts and seeds that are raw and free of rancid oils. Oils that are rancid make the symptoms of adrenal fatigue worse and should be avoided at all costs. Raw nuts should be taken on a liberal basis and should be soaked overnight in water. Nuts such as cashew, almond, brazil, pecan and chestnut are excellent. Peanuts should be avoided. Olive oil should be used cold on salads or for light cooking. The cooking heat should be low to moderate. Use coconut oil or butter for high heat or deep frying.
Vegetables high in sodium include kelp, black olives, red hot peppers, zucchini, spinach and Swiss chard. Fruits should only be taken in moderation. If you feel worse after food consumption, this is the body’s way of telling you that you are on the wrong track. Organic fruit such as papaya, mango, apples, grapes and cherry are recommended. Bananas, dates, figs, raisins and grapefruit are high in potassium and should be limited.
Many people with adrenal fatigue also have a lowered level of hydrochloric acid (HCI), which is necessary to break down protein. Symptoms of this problem include gas, bloating and heaviness in the stomach after eating a meal containing protein. In such case the use of Digestive enzymes and probiotics as well as Betaine Hydrochloride is recommended.
- Dietary Tips
- Always eat breakfast and do it before 10 am. The body’s glycogen supply needs to be replenished after going through the night. Try to eat your lunch before noon, followed by a nutritional snack between 2 – 3 pm. The evening meal should be taken before 6 pm. Just before bed time a couple of bites of high quality snacks are recommended.
- Combine small amounts of whole grains with generous portions of protein and fat at every meal and snack except at bed time. This will ensure sustained energy is available between meals.
- Eat 20 – 25% whole grain, 30 – 40 % above the ground vegetables (50% of which should be raw), 10 – 15% beans, nuts and seeds, 10 – 20% animal food, 10 – 15% good fat, and 5 – 10% whole fruits (except banana and fruits in the melon family).
- Whole fruits are permitted for lunch and dinner – except banana, figs and those in the melon family.
- Sprinkle sea salt liberally on food for a pleasant taste, provided that blood pressure is normal.
- Food that is high in potassium such as banana and dried figs can make the adrenals worse and should be avoided.
- Start each morning with a full glass of water and ½ – 1 teaspoon of sea salt. The typical breakfast of fruits and yogurt will only worsen the adrenal fatigue sufferer. In fact, those with adrenal fatigue usually experience and increase in shakiness after a breakfast high in fruit. A good breakfast would be one that is high in protein and fats, such as eggs and raw nuts. A small amount of grains is acceptable.
- Eat 5 – 6 frequent small meals instead of 3 large meals.
- Take a small amount of healthy snacks high in protein and fats such as cottage cheese or nuts before sleep if there is a tendency to wake up in the middle of the night.
- Take a small amount of carbohydrate such as whole grain bread before sleep if there is difficulty to fall asleep.
SAMPLE DIETARY PLAN OF 2000 CALORIES A DAY:
20% Whole grain = 400 calories = 2 slices of whole wheat bread, 1 cup of brown rice, ½ cup of oat meal.
30% Vegetables = 600 calories = 3 cups salad, 2 cups green leafy vegetables, 2 cups mixed vegetables.
15% Nuts & seeds = 300 calories = ½ cup legumes, 3 tablespoon of nuts and seeds.
15% Fat = 2 tablespoon olive oil.
10% Animal food = 200 calories =2,5 oz of meat (including chicken or fish)
10% Whole fruits = 200 calories= 2,5 medium fruit such as apple.
TIPS FOR HEALTHY ADRENAL GLANDS:
# Sleep by 10 p.m.
# Sleep in until 9 a.m. if possible
# Do the things you like
# Avoid coffee or other caffeine containing beverages
# Eat early
# Have a glass of water in the morning with ½ – 1 teaspoon of sea salt
# Avoid grains such as bread
# Avoid starchy foods such as potato
# Avoid trans-fats such as French fries
# Take Adrenozone Formula, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Magnesium
# Avoid getting over tired
# Avoid sugary fruit such as melons
# Never skip breakfast