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Click here for a good resource explaining "adrenal fatigue" in context even bigger than HPA axis disreguation
The following problems are increasingly common and are caused in most cases, by various aspects of our modern living.
- stress and anxiety
- feelings of panic
- fatigue and low energy
- post-viral fatigue and pain
- low moods
- unexplained pains
- complete exhaustion
They can lead, in their worst case scenario, and in combination with other health issues, to serious problems including CFS. CFS stands for "chronic fatigue syndrome", which can include a break-down of several parts of our body system, without one clear diagnosis being responsible for such state. The best short description of CFS is "barely able to function for many months or years, doesn't matter how much rest is taken".
A large part of CFS picture can be explained by "adrenal exhaustion" a term used often in naturopathic medicine but not recognised by modern medicine or science. Adrenal exhaustion simply means that stress hormones in adrenal glands, such as DHEA, cortisol and adrenaline, have been either exhausted or dysregulated to the point that the body has a great difficulty to react to daily stresses and life requirements. In scientific literature this is replaced by the term "hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) dysfunction" and it includes not only exhaustion of adrenal hormones but dysregulation of their activity by the master glands, hypothalamus and pituitary.
If there is any chronic problem present in the body (inflammation, anaemia, viruses such as EBV, long term external stress to name just a few), these master glands reset the body functioning to "survival mode". To protect us from serious damage, body slows down its functions and we feel fatigue and pain, forcing us to rest. Adrenal glands do not need to be damaged or "exhausted" but the levels of hormones or their active forms can be very low. Hypothalamus and pituitary gland have also impact on thyroid and sex hormones, and can affect fertility, problems with weight loss and many other functions.
As with all hormones, once they become depleted, or take an inactive form, it is very tricky to replace them and support the body without adding dangerous synthetic versions. Importance of adequate levels of adrenal hormones can sometime decide the question of life and death. Naturopathic practitioners agree, that dying from heart attack during stress happens usually to those people who have not enough adrenal reserves to deal with such impact.
External circumstances are sometimes difficult to change but we can always change how we perceive them.
Being "full of good nutrients" often helps to deal with stress and pressures - it is well known that stress of any kind can burn out some of the nutrients literally overnight.
What part of your body is broken most?When experiencing CFS, it is necessary to find out the main cause. For many women, it can start with undiagnosed chronically low ferritin levels, which is iron-storing protein. It may not cause full-blown anaemia (low haemoglobin) and therefore be overlooked for many years. Viruses such as EBV can cause long-term fatigue when immune system is weakened and the virus becomes more active. External stress and genetic predisposition can dysregulate HPA axis too. A direct damage to glands can also happen, one example is when toxic metals such as mercury accumulate in them.
How can good nutrition help?
HELP TO BANISH LOW MOOD
... by choosing mood lifting foods and specific nutrients, which can help to bring out your happy-self more often.
I was surprised to find how many people take antidepressants. Is this really the only option? Are we supposed to be constantly on medications just to fit into our society? Feeling down for a reason and living through it is a normal part of life. Looking into true reasons for long-term low mood - such as pain, emotions caused by hormonal imbalances, struggling with energy, daylight deficiency, mineral (sparks of life!) deficiency and so on.. can give us different outlook and smarter solutions.
HELP TO FORGET LOW ENERGY
... by assessing the level of adrenal health and other health issues, and choosing the right nutritional strategy to get you back on feet.
Sudden low energy differs from long-term chronic fatigue. Simple cases of occasional energy dips usually occurs in people who are otherwise fit and feeling reasonably healthy. There are many reasons why this happens. Daily dips in energy can be caused by imbalanced blood sugar which can be easily dealt with by choosing right foods. Another common reason is daylight deficiency and higher melatonin production or simply overwork and need for better sleep and rest.
HELP TO FIGHT PERSISTENT FATIGUE
... by looking at all possible reasons, health history, medical tests, hidden stress, negative experiences and designing the strategy to return to normal life.
Fatigue can have various reasons. From as simple causes as anaemia, low haemoglobin and low ferritin, to more complicated such as autoimmune thyroid disease. These common reasons HAVE to be checked for and excluded by proper medical testing BEFORE jumping into conclusions of having CFS. These conditions can trigger it and make worse but if they are resolved, fatigue should be relieved too. CFS connected to viruses or hidden inflammation may not be that easy to resolve but with correct nutrients and lifestyle, immune system can regenerate and may be the key to solving CFS.
HELP TO RELEASE STRESS AND ANXIETY
... by lowering over-reactive body responses to external or internal stressors by replenishing your body with calming nutrients and learning simple techniques to regain your peace.
I consider stress a priority to be dealt with. Its crucial to eat in a calm state of mind as digestion is not going to be working well while stressed. Stress lowers production of digestive juices, which not only help to digest food and get out nutrients but also neutralise some toxins and kill pathogens present on food. Low stomach acid can therefore trigger dysbiosis, overgrowth of bacteria, SIBO, SIYO and increase of toxins coming into the body.
HELP WITH PAIN
... by applying an anti-inflammatory diet as step No. 1.
Inflammation is pain and pain is inflammation... Refining AI diet and lifestyle according to the individual needs may go a long way to relieve pain. People struggling with energy, anxiety and depression have often became very sensitive. This could be caused by over sensitised hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal connections. The pain can appear anytime and anywhere but often it includes back, shoulder(s), arms, ankles, joints and neck. Often, this is time when CFS can be diagnosed and, if pain becomes more serious, it could suggest fibromyalgia.