The Christmas season can bring plenty of joy and fun to your life – but it can leave many feeling exhausted.
But now experts have revealed how that feeling of extreme tiredness could be down to the condition Adrenal Fatigue.
The adrenal glands, which sits on top of each kidney, are responsible for producing essential hormones including cortisol (stress), adrenaline and sex hormones.
When our bodies are faced with long term stress, our adrenals are ‘burning out’ because it’s constantly releasing more cortisol to keep up with the body’s needs.
Adrenal fatigue is not a recognised medical condition but its symptoms feel real. Sufferers may experience extreme tiredness, dizziness and low blood pressure
Martin Seeley, Sleep Expert and CEO of Mattressnextday explained that the condition consists of many nonspecific symptoms – but they can often be debilitating and life changing.
Here FEMAIL reveals everything you need to know about the condition – and the best way to manage the symptoms.
WHAT IS ADRENAL FATIGUE?
Adrenal Fatigue, according to experts, is all down to our adrenal glands, which are two small glands at the top of the kidneys and are responsible for producing cortisol and aldosterone.
Cortisol is responsible for regulating blood pressure and the immune system. It also impacts our energy levels, and has a reputation for being our major stress hormone.
Aldosterone, on the other hand, regulates salts in the blood and contributes to regulating blood pressure.
Together, the adrenal glands are crucial to the body’s management of physical and emotional stress.
Prolonged exposure to stress results in the body being unable to produce adequate amounts of cortisol, which in turn means we struggle to cope with stress and lack energy.
Revealed: The signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue
- Waking unrefreshed
- Lack of energy
- Body exhaustion
- Difficulty relaxing
- Issues with sleep
- Lack of concentration and memory
- Sugar or salt cravings
- Low mood
- Weight gain
- Hormonal imbalance
- Aches and pains
WHY ARE EXPERTS STILL DIVIDED ABOUT ADRENAL FATIGUE?
Fitness expert Penny Weston explained: ‘Adrenal fatigue is often the subject of debate, and people remain divided.
‘Despite not being recognised as a medical condition in its own right, it is a term that is often used when your adrenal glands struggle to work normally under stress.’
‘Many experts believe the symptoms can be attributed to other medical issues.
‘However, for people suffering with the symptoms, it is very real and establishing a more healthy lifestyle can certainly help relieve symptoms.’
SO HOW CAN YOU PREVENT ADRENAL FATIGUE?
As well as describing what the condition is, the experts explained there are a number of different ways to prevent Adrenal Fatigue.
1. REGULATE BLOOD SUGAR
Fitness expert Penny revealed that bad habits can cause rapid spikes in our hormones followed by dips, which is what we would usually call a ‘sugar high.’
She explained: ‘It can make us feel weird, irritable and tired.’
She went on to reveal that foods such as processed meats are full of sodium, preservatives and sodium nitrate, ‘and these have all been shown to cause problems in the body and can lead to dizziness and brain fog.’
2. START AN EXERCISE ROUTINE
Exercise is helpful for dealing with low moods and fatigue, according to Penny, who encourages everyone to make time in their day for exercise.
She explained: ‘We all have hectic lifestyles and so the key to maintaining an exercise routine is often making sure we fit it into our day.
‘So setting time aside specifically for exercise will help to ensure you actually do it.’
The fitness, wellness and nutrition expert revealed that she prefers to exercise in the morning, before the day becomes overloaded.
She said: ‘Doing a workout in the morning sets me up for the day both physically and mentally and helps me get into a more positive mindset.’
Martin reiterated this: ‘Making sure you get plenty of fresh air, move your body and stretch should also help not just for sleep but for keeping your body feeling energised.’
Ready meals and processed foods, such as baked beans, sauces and pizzas are all high in sugar and salt and can have a negative effect on the brain.
In addition, sugary drinks, including juices and fizzy drinks, contain huge amounts of sugar, which is detrimental for our brain health, as it causes inflammation to the brain and can contribute to memory loss.
Penny said: ‘I’m a firm believer in eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in all the essential nutrients that come from plant-based goodness, such as lots of fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses and plant-based proteins.
‘Leafy greens are really good for you, especially kale, spinach and rocket, as they are full of Vitamin B, E And K, which all help brain health and improve memory and focus.’
3. GIVE UP ALCOHOL, SMOKING AND CAFFEINE
It is well known that giving up your vices can improve your physical, mental and emotional health.
Martin explained: ‘Avoid caffeine too late in the day also as too much caffeine may cause you to crash and can worsen any feelings of fatigue.’
Meanwhile explained that giving up vices can also great at alleviating symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue.
She said: ‘Alcohol can cause many problems too, including brain fog, due to the sulfites.
‘Meanwhile foods high in trans fat and artificial ingredients can cause inflammation in the body and brain, which studies have shown can increase your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.’
Prolonged nicotine exposure can increase cortisol levels, disrupt sleep, cause blood sugar fluctuations, and increase anxiety and depression, which are all symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
4. FOLLOW A STRICT SLEEP ROUTINE
Creating a bedtime routine establishes habits that help our brains recognise when it’s time to sleep and it can help keep your mind focused on other tasks.
That might be easier said than done, but it’s worth giving yourself the best possible chance at getting some decent rest
Penny suggested: ‘Start with a warm bath and set the same time for bedtime so your body knows it’s time to get ready for sleep. You can also try some meditation.
‘It’s important not to become discouraged when your mind starts to wander. With time and effort your focus will become stronger.
‘It’s something you can do virtually anywhere at no cost, and the benefits for your mental wellbeing and overall health are so strong that I highly recommend you try.’
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