Adrenal fatigue affects more and more couples struggling to conceive. What is it, and how can you heal it?
Adrenal fatigue sets in when the adrenal glands are overstretched by chronic stress, and keep pumping out cortisol. As part of the endocrine system, they lean on the thyroid gland to slow things down. If thyroid function is also a problem for you, while you’re trying to conceive, there is a lot you can do to balance things out and boost fertility. First off, how do you know if you might have adrenal fatigue?
Signs of adrenal fatigue
- You’re a night owl who comes alive at bedtime.
- Your racing mind makes it hard to drop off to sleep.
- Middle of the night waking means staying awake for hours.
- You struggle to ‘get going’ each morning.
- Sun glasses are your year-round trademark, because of your sensitivity to light.
- Vague anxiety is a constant companion.
- In spite of your sweet nature, you’re snappy and quick tempered!
- Your blood pressure reads low.
- Teeth grinding or clenching your jaw at night manifests as a tendency to headache.
- Mid/lower back pain with no definite cause is constant.
- Pain or discomfort is felt on the inside area of the knees.
- Savoury or salty foods are your ‘go to’ snack.
- Yawning starts in the mid afternoon.
- You often feel tired, and crave naps during the day.
- Headaches arrive in the mid afternoon, or after exercising.
- Sneezing or runny nose heralds your chronic or seasonal allergies.
- You get dizzy on standing up.
- It’s hard to shift waistline weight.
If you tick three, or more, of these boxes it’s time to heal your adrenal fatigue.
The function of your adrenal glands
The adrenal glands form our body’s ’emergency response’ unit. We’re more familiar with adrenaline, that allows us to fight, or flee danger at a second’s notice. With chronic stress, the adrenals release cortisol into play. The system is now operating at a constantly higher level. It doesn’t get a chance to power down and do vital body maintenance. Chronic cortisol depletes the endocrine system and slows down the thyroid, the digestive system is affected, the liver struggles, and the brain feels the affects. Adrenal fatigue sufferers often have a deficit of a precursor of testosterone (necessary for fertility) and other sex hormones. Reproductive endocrinologists may prescribe DHEA to counteract this. Eating well mops up cortisol and fuels the production of fertility hormones.
Eat well to support your adrenals
The Mediterranean diet provides a good balance of fresh, tasty food to supply the building blocks of good health. Faddy diets of low carbs, or extreme vegan or paleo can exacerbate adrenal stress leading to hormonal imbalances that impact fertility for women, and men. Eat as your grandma ate – vegetables and potatoes with butter, local organic fruit like apples and pears, eggs, fish meat, and whatever breads/ grains you can manage. Seaweed is an ideal, and tasty, way of getting enough iodine which is vital to a healthy thyroid.
Small changes to reduce adrenal fatigue
Many of my clients are surprised at how eating like a horse, and doing less exercise, works wonders for shedding weight, feeling better and boosting fertility. Here are some pointers for getting you started!
- As soon as you emerge from sleep, have a lemon/honey/ginger drink to kickstart your day.
- Take a tip from the Continentals. Breakfast like a queen, lunch like a princess and dine like a pauper.
- Use powdered seaweed, and real sea salt, which contain iodine, and a load of other great micronutrients to nourish the adrenals.
- Breakfast before you leave home. This prevents your blood sugar plummeting, and cortisol racing in to fill the gap.
- Skipping meals is a disaster for adrenal function.
- Beware! If you’ve got more than a 4-hour gap between brekkie and lunch, you’re at risk of a cortisol rush. A substantial snack works to stave it off. Think French toast, croquet monsieur, pancakes with fruit.
- Sit down to eat, never ‘eat drive’, ditch the phone and enjoy conversation while savouring your food.
- Dine early before 7pm so you have no long gap between meals.
- Avoid coffee, especially after 2pm, if you really need your daily caffeine fix.
- Ditch plastic-bottled water and the risk of drinking endocrine disrupting chemicals . Stick with filtered or glass-bottled to stay hydrated.
- Magnesium gets used up rapidly when you’re stressed. Replenish your stocks by soaking in a delicious relaxing bath with 2-3 generous cupfuls of Epsom salts.
- Early to bed… heading to sleep before midnight at least, and ideally before 10pm, helps revive flagging adrenals.
- Exercise with care while you’re minding your adrenals …and your body will thank you for it. That means sticking with low-impact work. Enjoy fun exercise you can do alone, with your partner or in a group like walking, yoga, t’ai chi, dancing, zumba, sex, swimming, canoeing and pilates.
- Play truant from the grind every now and then. At the very least, enjoy a weekly rest day to wind down alone, with your partner, or with family.
- Sharing a meal together, going for a long walk and connecting with others reduces the effects of stress.
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- To fabulous recipes with seaweed visit https://connemaraseaweedcompany.ie
- For reasonably priced Epsom Salts check out http://www.glanbia.com