Diet Malabsorption And Fatigue
Without the right guidance and evaluation, sifting through all the dietary approaches being promoted for increasing energy can be a daunting task. Let me simplify what is most important:
- Eat plants with deep colors, both vegetables and fruits to obtain the phytonutrients needed to reset metabolism.
- Avoid simple sugars that strip key vitamins and minerals from ones stores
- Get 40-70 grams of high quality protein that is organically raised some grass fed beef if desired
- Use high quality fats in large amounts-olive oil, nuts and seeds , and if needed MCT oils
- Limit alcohol and caffeine use to 6 ounces red wine, and 1 cup coffee per day
- Consider 5 small meals a day, normalizing blood sugar swings
- Try to get a 12 hour fast between dinner and breakfast with 3 hours between dinner and sleep
My book,The Adaptation Diet, presents a program that will lead to higher energy and improved weight and overall well-being. Take a look.
What Is The Cause Of Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue is usually caused by long-term stressors. These can include financial stress, overwork, family disputes, or marital problems. Often it might a be a combination of factors, such as those experienced by a high-flying executive with young children.
Other factors can come into play too. A poor diet means that your body has fewer reserves and less capacity to deal with stress. Chronic or latent disease can be a factor, as can regular exposure to toxic chemicals or pollutants. And dont forget sleep one of the most important requirements for your body to function properly. If youre burning the candle at both ends, consider that a lack of sleep might be damaging your long-term health.
Testing For Adrenal Fatigue
Diagnosing Adrenal Fatigue from a single test or symptom is very difficult. To make an accurate diagnosis, doctors and naturopaths need to look at a range of tests, sometimes conducted multiple times, and take note of every symptom. This requires experience and a thorough knowledge of the various systems in your body, as well as some patience too. It may require two or three visits to the doctor before you can be sure that you have Adrenal Fatigue.
Testing for Adrenal Fatigue can take several forms. First we have the standard hormone tests, which include testing for cortisol and various thyroid hormones. These are the tests that your medical doctor will likely give you. Then we have the tests more frequently used by integrative doctors or naturopaths these tend to look at the ratios of various hormones and neurotransmitters, in order to get a better idea of how a patient is feeling. And lastly we have a set of more subjective physical tests, which were mostly developed in the early days of Adrenal Fatigue diagnosis.
To diagnose Adrenal Fatigue correctly requires using a combination of lab testing and feedback from the patient . On this page I will give a brief summary of the major tests that can be used in an Adrenal Fatigue diagnosis. Dr Wood and I discuss these tests in more detail in The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, along with some revealing tests used by integrative doctors.
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What Is Cortisol And Why Is It Important
Cortisol is an extremely important steroid hormone produced and released by the adrenal glands. It affects nearly every organ and tissue in the human body. Some of the roles it helps to govern include: regulating the bodys stress response, helping to suppress inflammation in the body, regulating blood sugar and blood pressure, and controlling the sleep and wake cycles.
When Does the Body Produce Cortisol?
Often referred to as the stress hormone, cortisol is created and released depending on a variety of stress responses. If we are suddenly faced with a dangerous situation, the adrenal glands produce cortisol to assist with this acute stress scenario. The human body seeks to maintain homeostasis , therefore, optimum cortisol levels are essential to maintaining multiple bodily functions. If these levels are consistently too high or too lowdue to long-lasting or chronic stressthe balance is altered, which can produce negative effects on ones health.
Dangers Of Unregulated Vitamins And Supplements
The FDA does not review or approve dietary supplements based on their safety and effectiveness. This means that many supplements and herbal remedies sold in stores can contain ingredients that may interact with other medications youre taking, or the dosages may be out of FDA-regulated guidelines.
Its best to run any dietary supplements by your doctor first. Not all vitamins, supplements, and herbs are dangerous , but everyones personal health issues are unique. Talk to your doctor if you have other medically diagnosed conditions, or are currently taking prescription medication.
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So Whats A Person To Do
Navigating this ocean of uncertainty is not an easy task. Symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue probably have multiple causes. Frequent follow-up visits and a strong patient-clinician partnership are critical elements for success. Alternative and complementary clinicians often have better results, because the appointments tend to last longer and they view patients through a more holistic lens. An important word of caution: some medical professionals prescribe cortisol analogs to treat adrenal fatigue. Cortisol replacement can be dangerous even in small doses. Unintended consequences can include osteoporosis, diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease.
Regardless of what we call it, there are millions of people suffering from similar symptoms, and a personalized plan that involves counseling, medications, supplements, lifestyle change, among others could work for many. Improvement following these programs is slow, and the evidence is weak, but I hope advances in big data, genomics, and its relationship with the environment and the microbiome, may shine a light on how to better help people who suffer from these ailments.
The adrenal fatigue theory may fit like a glove to explain your symptoms, which are very real. But before buying expensive protocols over the Internet to treat something were not even sure exists, take a deep dive and reexamine your lifestyle. The path to feeling better may be closer than you think.
Inclusion And Exclusion Criteria
Inclusion criteria were: whole article written in English, cortisol profile and fatigue or energy status as the primary outcome, specific tests performed for evaluating the adrenal axis, absence of corticosteroid therapy, absence of confounding diseases that would lead to an impaired cortisol status caused by the disorder itself . Studies with a merely description about adrenal axis impairment with no tests performed were excluded.
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Is Adrenal Fatigue Real
- By , Contributor
Low energy and tiredness are among the most common reasons patients seek help from a doctor. Despite being so common, it is often challenging to come up with a diagnosis, as many medical problems can cause fatigue. Doctors engage in detective work, obtaining a medical history, doing a physical exam, and doing blood tests. The results often yield no explanations. It can be frustrating for clinicians and patients when a clear-cut diagnosis remains elusive. An attractive theory, called adrenal fatigue, links stress exposure to adrenal exhaustion as a possible cause of this lack of energy.
Types Of Adrenal Fatigue
Most women suffering from adrenal fatigue experience symptoms that usually fall into one of three categories along a spectrum of fatigue: wired, tired and wired, or tired. As adrenal imbalances worsen, women may move through these stages until they reach the point of near exhaustion.
Your type of adrenal fatigue determines what kinds of symptoms show up and how you will find relief and restore healthy adrenal function.
Common adrenal fatigue symptoms for wired women
When you have a wired type of adrenal imbalance, your body is creating and responding to a constant flow of stress hormones. This can cause you to remain in active mode, feeling antsy and ready to go. You may be periodically overwhelmed by fatigue, but sleeping feels like a waste of time because you have so much to do.
Many wired women dont realize that their bodies are sending out warning signals with symptoms like these:
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, anxiety at night
- Feeling driven or speedy all day
- Anxiety, panic attacks, easily startled
- Racing thoughts, scattered thinking, inability to focus on one task
- PMS, difficult menstrual periods, hormonal shifts of perimenopause or menopause
- Fluid retention
- Food cravings, tendency to eat a lot of calories at night
- Frequent colds or infections due to a suppressed immune system
- High blood pressure
Common adrenal fatigue symptoms for tired and wired women
Tired and wired symptoms can include:
- Fuzzy thinking/forgetfulness
- Low libido
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How Is Adrenal Fatigue Different From Adrenal Insufficiency
As mentioned, there is no sufficient scientific evidence about adrenal fatigue, making doctors not accept it. However, adrenal insufficiency is an actual medical condition.
Adrenal insufficiency occurs when the bodys adrenal glands cannot produce enough hormones. Either the adrenal glands have damage, or there is a problem with the pituitary gland.
The pituitary gland is pea-sized located in the brain. It is in charge of sending signals for the adrenals to produce cortisol. Various conditions can occur when a person has adrenal insufficiency.
Additionally, the detection for adrenal insufficiency is through blood tests, and treatment involves medications to fill in the hormones that adrenals usually make.
On the other hand, no test can detect adrenal fatigue. Therefore, the basis is most likely on symptoms only. Although blood or saliva test may apply, there is still no scientific facts or studies to support this condition. In effect, the results of the test may be inaccurate.
What Do The Results Mean
High levels of cortisol may mean you have Cushings syndrome, while low levels may mean you have Addison disease or another type of adrenal disease. If your cortisol results are not normal, it doesnt necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Other factors, including infection, stress, and pregnancy can affect your results. Birth control pills and other medicines can also affect your cortisol levels. To learn what your results mean, talk to your health care provider.
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More Symptoms Of Adrenal Fatigue
There are a large number of other complaints that are associated with Adrenal Fatigue. Many of these are linked directly to one of the more common complaints listed above. Depending on which stage of Adrenal Fatigue you have reached, you may be experiencing a handful or a large number of these symptoms.
- Numbness in your fingers / Poor circulation
- Weight gain
Adrenal Fatigue Adrenal Insufficiency Or A Misnamed State Of Hypofunction
Dr Carrie Decker ND, explores the terminology and the accuracy of the ubiquitous moniker of adrenal fatigue.
Im so exhausted all the time, I think I have adrenal failure. My friend told me her naturopath said that her adrenals crashed and I think mine have too. I took a test and my cortisol was low and my chiropractor told me I have adrenal fatigue.
If you have been practicing or following the field of integrative and holistic medicine for any amount of time, you inevitably have heard at least one of these statements from your patients. More often than not it comes from someone who appears to have some degree of fatigue, perhaps not more than your own, and the statement also vaguely includes something about what they read online or a quiz they took to assess their fatigue. Not only is the term adrenal insufficiency commonly misused, many walking, coherent, and healthy looking individuals often come in their physicians office claiming to have a state of adrenal failure.
The medical condition of adrenal insufficiency
In addition to this, activities such as exercise and stressful events , as well as being on medications including hormone therapy, inhaled and oral corticosteroids all can affect cortisol levels. Because of this, testing is wrought with measurements which although correct from a laboratory perspective may be falsely elevated.
The gray is wide, and what do we call it?
Cortisol does not act alone!
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Adaptogens Might Not Be The Answer
I frequently get questions about using adaptogens and other supplements to help cope with stress. For those who may not be familiar with adaptogen supplements, these are natural substances that are capable of either stimulating you or relaxing you. If youre wired or anxious, an adaptogen can help you relax if youre lethargic, it may help energize you. Some examples of adaptogens are ginseng, ashwagandha, tulsi , and rhodiola.
While adaptogens are very popular, they are not for everyone. Ive seen quite a few patients in my clinic who decided to try adaptogens hoping they would help with their adrenal fatigue, but ended up crashing even more. Using adaptogens without understanding the underlying causes of their health concerns made their symptoms much worse.
Its not that adaptogens are not useful. Adaptogens have their place and may help in some cases. They do not, however, address the root cause of adrenal fatigue, or the different imbalances caused by the chronic stress. So, I wouldnt reach for them without doing some baseline testing and getting other things in place first.
For example, you want to make sure you provide your body with all the nutrients your adrenal need to function properly. While there may be several nutrients we often use such as vitamin C, vitamin B5, and essential fats, we always test first to know exactly which nutrients you may be lacking.
What Is The Outlook
Most people with adrenal fatigue will recover quite quickly but severe symptoms may take some months to recover, or even longer. The time for recovery will vary enormously from person to person and will also depend on the cause of stress and the severity of symptoms. Following a good treatment plan, as described above, will help you to recover more quickly.
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How Do You Treat Adrenal Fatigue
Finding a cure for your adrenal fatigue usually means reversing the factors that led to your poor health in the first place. This might mean removing added sugars and junk food from your diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding or eliminating sources of stress.
There are other ways to support your body, make it more resilient to stress, and treat your adrenal fatigue. Adaptogenic supplements like ashwagandha can help to moderate your stress response, while basic nutrients like vitamin C can give your adrenal glands the nutrients they need.
What Information Does Testing Give You
I think the most important aspect of testing for any disease is to not only know that you have the condition but to also learn more about your condition.
If you are interested in diagnosing and managing adrenal fatigue, because you suspect you have it, the first question you want answered is whether or not its present.
Theres only one problem with this when it comes to your adrenals:
Theres no consensus regarding which cortisol test is the most accurate.
Thats problem #1.
You have to understand the limitations of each test and what type of information you are actually getting from that test.
If you are testing your serum cortisol, which is generally how I recommend that you start, you arent necessarily getting accurate information about how stress is impacting your body.
Other measures, including your blood pressure, heart rate, and other hormones, may actually be better indicators of this.
This same problem exists for both salivary and urinary cortisol, even those they may give you a better understanding of how concentrated certain cells are with cortisol.
They still dont give you the complete picture and may therefore be inaccurate.
But this isnt even the only issue.
Lets say you order a cortisol test and it comes back abnormal.
Thats problem #2.
Once you have that information you better hope that the results you are getting are going to give you some idea how or what you should be doing to fix the problem.
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Chronic Fatigue Can Also Be Also Be Triggered By A Variety Of Events In Addition To Long Standing Stress
Patients I see often have the onset of fatigue after a viral infection, environmental exposure such as mold in a water damaged home or workplace, travel borne illness like diarrhea from a parasite or bacteria. The first question I always ask is what events preceded the onset of the fatigue. In susceptible individuals the immune response to infections or toxins like mold, leads to a state of chronic inflammation called CIRS Once this occurs it leads to chronic fatigue as well as other symptoms such as joint pains, headaches, depression and digestive problems.
In addition to adrenal/midbrain based fatigue, there are other common causes of tiredness and lethargy that are best evaluated with an integrative medicine approach. The following is a list of other causes for fatigue, tiredness and lethargy :
The Functional Medicine Approach To Stress
In functional medicine, we seek to understand the effect stress has on the entire person, rather than just on the HPA axis or the adrenals. It is a much broader perspective of stress that considers all the different organs and body systems involved in the stress response. This holistic view allows us to identify imbalances caused by chronic stress that we can then address with personalized treatment plans.
After decades of research as well as experience with thousands of patients, my team of functional medicine practitioners has developed the NeuroEndoMetabolic model.
This model of the bodys reaction to stress can be described like an electrical circuit panel. There is one master circuit panel that controls the entire body, with individual circuits that control different body systems. Collectively they all work together, like the circuits in your house, to keep the lights of wellness turned on.
Here are the 6 main circuits or body systems that can be impacted by chronic stress:
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