What is Adrenal Fatigue?
The best way to understand adrenal fatigue is to first understand stress. Post-menopause stress and adrenal fatigue go hand-in-hand. The adrenal glands, two triangle-shaped glands that sit over the kidneys, are responsible for regulating the body's stress response by controlling the hormones released during stress (namely cortisol). When stress becomes chronic or is not well managed, the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol, experience an adrenal burnout, and are unable to function optimally. Once the adrenal burnout happens, cortisol production actually grounds to a halt and leads to adrenal insufficiency. Cortisol is the main adrenal hormone and it is used to manage stress, which is why it is often referred to as the stress hormone. Under optimal adrenal function, the highest amount of cortisol is secreted by the adrenals in the morning to get us going, with levels decreasing throughout the day. The adrenals secrete cortisol in response to low blood sugar, stress, exercise, and excitement. However, when faced with consistently high cortisol levels (be that as a result of chronic stress or a rare disease like Cushing's syndrome), that pattern becomes much less predictable as levels of cortisol begin to fluctuate throughout the day. In the meantime, the body can be so focused on producing cortisol in response to stress that it neglects other hormones (such as progesterone and DHEA) and leads to more cases of hormonal imbalance, throwing the body's delicate balance into further disarray.
Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms for Women
Here are just some of the most common symptoms of adrenal fatigue in women:
- Waking up in the mid-portion of the night
- Inability to achieve quality sleep
- Increased susceptibility to infections
- Midday Fatigue
- Reduced tolerance for stress
- Craving for sweets and salty foods
- Allergies to things you were never allergic to before
- Chemical sensitivities
- A tendency to feel cold
- Reduced energy levels
- Weight gain
- Foggy brain
- Decrease in the production of insulin (which regulates blood glucose levels)
- Decreased libido
- Low blood pressure
Adrenal Fatigue Diagnosis
If you're experiencing some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue, the next step should be to get an evaluation of your cortisol levels. As with other hormones, there are a few options in testing for cortisol levels: blood, saliva, and urine level testing. While many medical professionals used to prefer a saliva test, more and more are now turning to urine level testing to evaluate cortisol levels. Blood tests, which can be effective in determining the levels of other hormones, just cannot fully account for the fluctuations of cortisol levels after adrenal fatigue sets in. Urine level tests typically ask people to provide 5 samples per day so that a medical professional can get a more total picture of someone's cortisol levels throughout the day.
How to Manage Adrenal Fatigue in Women
So how do we deal with all of this? The most obvious solution would be to reduce levels of stress. The good news is that, through a combination of lifestyle management and a diet rich in specific nutrients, you can reduce both stress and the threat of high cortisol levels. When you want to defeat stress, the best place to start is to avoid stressors in your daily life. Obviously, this is easier said than done. Oftentimes, we have no idea when we are about to be faced with situational stressors. However, we often deal with stressors in our day-to-day lives that are more predictable and, therefore, easier to avoid. Whether those daily stressors are specific people or locations, it is important to identify them to see if they can be removed from our daily lives. Being able to do so could have lasting, positive implications for our long-term health. There are also a number of foods that we can eat as part of an adrenal fatigue diet. Some of these foods include healthy starches (like sweet potatoes), organic vegetables, wild caught fish, grass-fed organic meats, and foods that contain healthy fats.
Of course, this all becomes more difficult and less effective as we age. The stress caused by hormone imbalance, namely in perimenopause and menopause for women, is a huge contributor to adrenal fatigue, and it's not the kind of stress that can be avoided. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy balances your hormones, including the hormones released during stress, with customized prescriptions that fit your body chemistry and what your body needs. This, combined with an individualized nutrition/supplement and fitness program, maintains normal hormone levels and can effectively eliminate the symptoms associated with menopause and perimenopause. Contact your nearest BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioner today to embark on a path to recovery and improved health and well-being through balanced hormone levels!
The dietary supplements that BodyLogicMD offers to treat adrenal fatigue as part of the nutrition plan ensure that your body will have a healthy ratio of essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. This healthy ratio works in concert with the bioidentical hormone therapy to provide some relief from adrenal fatigue symptoms and to help ensure that the condition and its symptoms do not return. The vitamins and minerals personalized by your BodyLogicMD bioidentical hormone practitioner aid your adrenal glands in handling stress. This plan of hormonal balance and proper nutrition serves to greatly reduce high cortisol, stress, and adrenal fatigue. Take a look in our shop to see how supplements can contribute to improved health. While you're in there, see how you can combine different supplements into daily pill packs.