My dear sisters, I am truly overwhelmed by the responses I received from so many women when I revealed I am experiencing a flood of health challenges—weight gain, adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems, estrogen dominance, and prediabetes. Up until I was faced with these hurdles, I thought I had my life under control. Boy, I was wrong!
Before these life-changing health challenges became apparent, I had been under extreme stress: my husband was desperately ill with an autoimmune disease for many months, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, my children required my attention throughout these experiences, and I felt like my life was spinning out of control.
The women who have been writing to me are facing similar life-altering and health-changing situations. They are going through a divorce after decades of marriage; they have lost a child; they have to care for ill, aging parents. They are feeling desperate, alone, out of control. At the same time, at some point their health has gone south and they are scared, confused, and wondering, like I did, “What happened?”
Fortunately, my husband’s health has improved, my mother is doing better, and my children—well, they are kids! But the stress from those many months took its toll on my body. I did not just wake up one morning and discover I had adrenal fatigue or prediabetes or any of the other health issues. These health issues had been developing over time, under my radar. What happened is that my body eventually gave up, but my mind did not. My mind is demanding to know what happened even though my body is fighting me.
But I—and we—can win that battle.
Let me tell you about adrenal fatigue
And so, my dear sisters, I want to share with you some important information about something that may be completely unaware is happening in your body at this very moment. I’ve already mentioned it, and it’s called adrenal fatigue. This common biological event affects a great number of women and is responsible for so many physical, emotional, and mental challenges. I am experiencing some
of those symptoms right now, and I am learning how to embrace, accept, and manage them in a natural, healthy, nurturing way.
Will you join me on this journey of healing and self-discovery? I know that I will thoroughly enjoy the company. I have found that women who work together to heal together can accomplish so much more than when they try to go it alone. So let’s explore adrenal fatigue and learn what we need to do to conquer it.
What’s the big deal about adrenal glands?
The job of the adrenal glands is to help your body adapt to stress. One big way it does this by producing more than 50 important hormones, which are vital for your health. Among those hormones are estrogen, stress hormones (cortisol, adrenalin, norepinephrine), and testosterone. When we become overstressed, the adrenal glands and your nervous system work overtime, and the glands become fatigued and crash.
However, when you allow yourself to relax and release tension on a regular basis, a part of your nervous system is allowed to promote healing and repair. Your body works best when there is a healthy balance between stress and relaxation.
Sometimes, we allow our adrenal glands to keep working too hard and they cannot shut off. That’s when we can experience adrenal exhaustion, which can be associated with allergies, leaky gut syndrome, infections, and nutrient deficiencies.
Signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue
How do you know if you are experiencing adrenal fatigue? First, you should know that some doctors do not acknowledge the presence of adrenal fatigue, so it’s important to find one who understands how it works. The challenge is that the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are associated with many other disorders that are often overlooked by doctors. However, you can help your healthcare provider, if you choose to seek help from one, by knowing what to look for.
Most common signs of adrenal fatigue
Among the most common signs of adrenal fatigue are weight gain, fluid retention, and fatigue. I can hear you saying right now, “Yes, I am experiencing all three of these symptoms right now!” I get it; I
am too! Sometimes I am driving my kids to school and I feel like I am going to fall asleep at the wheel. Or I am so exhausted when I get up I don’t even feel like I slept at all, yet I will feel weird rushes of energy throughout the day. But knowing the reasons for these symptoms is the first step toward resolving them. And that reason is likely adrenal fatigue.
If you are struggling with getting rid of excess fat around your belly and can’t seem to lose weight no matter what you do, adrenal fatigue could be the reason. When the adrenal glands are exhausted because you are living with chronic stress, they keep sending out hormones. The result is belly fat, weight gain, fatigue, and other symptoms.
What are some of those other symptoms?
Low blood pressure
Lightheadedness after missing a meal
Sugar and salt cravings—we know what a problem these can be!
Sleep problems, such as trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up often during the night
Low or no sex drive
Mood swings (associated with hormone imbalance). In fact, adrenal fatigue is the most common cause of hormonal imbalance in women.
How to manage and conquer adrenal fatigue
The good news is there are many things you can do right now to manage and conquer adrenal fatigue. Personally, I am focusing on food choices, since they have a tremendous impact on preventing and managing adrenal fatigue. However, please keep reading beyond dietary tips, because there are many other ways to overcome this health challenge.
Diet. One of the best ways to conquer adrenal fatigue is to choose an anti-inflammatory eating plan that includes complex carbohydrates and healthy fats so you can stabilize your blood sugar levels. Your diet should focus on non-starchy vegetables,
such as dark green leaf veggies, cruciferous veggies, celery, cucumbers, summer squash, onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Don’t forget fruits, such as berries, apples, pears, and citrus.
Two more categories to include are healthy fats (coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut butter, avocados, olives, and grass-fed animal products) and herbs (e.g., basil, ginger, oregano, rosemary, thyme, turmeric). Round out your diet with lean protein (beans, legumes, and pasture-raised meat and poultry in limited amounts). Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables are also recommended. Avoid or significantly limit foods with caffeine, alcohol, and added sugars.
Note: I include two easy recipes for adrenal gland tonics at the end of this post. But don’t skip ahead!
Watch your nutrient intake. Part of focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet is to be sure to get plenty of magnesium, B vitamins, and zinc. That’s because these nutrients are critical for improving blood sugar balance, which has a major impact on your energy levels. Excellent sources of these nutrients include pumpkin seeds, nuts, legumes, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, avocados, and whole grains.
Get rid of food sensitivities. Often we are intolerant to foods and beverages and don’t even realize it. Many people with adrenal fatigue are experiencing reactions to foods but don’t know it. Try a food elimination diet to identify the offending foods. This does take time but is well worth the effort.
Begin by eliminating the most common food irritants, which include dairy, grains, gluten, eggs, peanuts, soy, corn, nightshade vegetables (e.g., tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, red and white potatoes, paprika), and sugars. Remove these foods from your diet for at least four weeks. Then gradually add them back one at a time, allowing your body to adjust to each added-back food for several days before introducing another.
Practice stress reduction daily. Stress plays such a critical role in adrenal fatigue, it is necessary for you to include some type of stress reduction in your daily routine if you want to achieve success. Personally, I find that a daily brief meditation (about 10 minutes) is helpful. You also can practice deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, progressive relaxation, or guided visualization.
Stay hydrated. It’s so easy to forget to drink enough water. However, allowing yourself to become dehydrated can kick up stress hormone production. Strive to consume at least 50 percent of your body weight in ounces of water daily. Proper hydration reduces stress response and helps your body heal and repair itself. Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day to help you remember to drink water.
Connect with the earth. Harmful electromagnetic frequency (EMF) waves are all around us and can have a negative impact on our bodily functions. You can help balance these negative frequencies by connecting with the earth: walk barefoot outside whenever possible (and safe) so you can absorb natural EMFs from the ground.
Welcome essential oils. The essential oils of many plants have qualities that can enhance sleep and reduce stress. For daytime benefits, try frankincense, lemon balm, rosemary, rose, or vanilla; at night, use chamomile and lavender. You can use a diffuser or mix the selected oil(s) with a carrier oil (e.g. coconut, sesame, jojoba) and apply them to your skin.
Embrace sleep. Your brain and body need 8 to 9 hours of high-quality sleep every night to heal, improve your memory, ward off the negative impact of stress, and reestablish balance. If you are having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up often during the night, check out these helpful tips.
Heal to music. Listening to some types of music—meditative, light classical, jazz, or spiritual—can enhance your levels of good brain chemicals and improve tissue repair. Avoid listening to loud dance, rock, rap, hip-hop, or other forms that can stimulate rather than calm your adrenal glands.
Exercise lightly. You don’t have to run a marathon to help your adrenal glands work properly. At least four to five times a week, participate in about 30 minutes of light exercise, such as cycling, swimming, walking, tennis, or dancing. Regular movement can reduce inflammation, improve mood, and boost energy.
Take time for yourself. It’s not selfish to schedule some down time for yourself—preferably every day—and do something you really enjoy. Read a book, paint, watch a video or movie, play with your dog or your kids, sculpt, do tai chi, volunteer your time, sing, play an instrument—your choice! Focus on activities that make you feel uplifted and positive.
Reduce tech time. Whenever you use a cell phone, laptop, tablet, or PC, you are exposing yourself to negative electromagnetic forces. These forces have been shown to contribute to inflammation and stress. Keep these devices as far away from you as possible, including at night—that is, don’t keep your phone or other devices in your bedroom with you.
Enjoy sunshine. We often think of sunshine as helping us produce vitamin D, and it does. However, it also helps the energy organs in our cells (the mitochondria) to produce energy for repair and healing. This process allows the adrenal glands to heal faster.
Keep a journal. Keep a journal of your thoughts, emotions, dreams, and accomplishments. Express your gratitude daily for the positive things in your life. When you write in such a journal on a daily basis, it helps keep you focused on the good in your life, reduces your stress hormone production, and thus helps prevent adrenal fatigue.
Laugh a lot. Laughing is an activity that helps to trigger feel-good chemicals in the body, which in turn reduces stress and boosts the body’s healing response. Find the humor in life, watch funny videos or films, read humorous books, and chuckle more!
Pray or meditate daily. You can reap much internal balance, peace, and tranquility if you pray or meditate every day. It’s been shown that people who participate in spiritual or religious activities have better mental health and inner peace.
Adrenal gland tonics
As promised, here are two simple adrenal gland tonic recipes. I personally drink 2 cups of chicken bone broth every day. It is full of nutrients essential for reviving the adrenals, such as amino acids, calcium, and magnesium.
Note: Bones should be from free-range or grass-fed animals and all vegetables should be organic if possible.
2 lbs of chicken or beef bones
2 stalks of celery
11/2-inch of fresh ginger root sliced
1 large unpeeled onion
1 bulb of garlic, peeled and minced
Handful of parsley (optional)
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs salt (Himalayan or sea if possible)
Place all of the ingredients in a large pot. Cover, bring to a boil, and then reduce to low. Simmer the broth for at least 12 hours (I do 25). The longer you simmer the broth, the more nutrients you can extract from the bones and vegetables. Allow the broth to cool and then strain through a fine strainer. Store the broth in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. Freeze the excess in small containers for easy access.
AM Adrenal Tonic
Here is a super simple tonic you should take first thing in the morning to help reset your adrenals when they are operating at full throttle. It provides a combination of fiber, protein, healthy fat, and a bit of natural sweetness.
2 Tbs chia seeds or ground flax seeds
½ cup blueberries or raspberries (organic if possible)
Pinch of sea salt
Water and fresh lemon juice as needed
Place the seeds, berries and salt in a processor and pulse. Add several ounces of water slowly until you reach a desired consistency. Add lemon juice to taste.
I invite all of my dear sisters who are struggling with symptoms of adrenal fatigue and feelings of spinning out of control to join me in overcoming this challenge. I know we can do it together! Please let me know the issues you are trying to deal with and which of these tips you are trying and how they are working for you. I want to share this healing experience with each and every one of you!