Discovering the root cause of my conditions has been the first step to my recovery, and that has meant extensive state-of-the-art lab testing, with lifestyle changes and treatment based on the results. As I have mentioned before, my first labs indicated several problems, including gluten and other sensitivities, pancreatic insufficiency, and a genetic disorder that keeps me from absorbing and utilizing folate, iron, and the B-vitamins. I have begun to tackle these challenges by taking one day at a time, religiously following a gluten-free/dairy-free/sugar-free diet, and implementing a treatment plan that includes nutritional supplements - actions that appear to be somewhat successful so far, especially in regard to my digestive challenges.
I suspect that there are many others out there that are experiencing some of the same symptoms I have had, and while the mainstream medical field continues to debate the validity of this condition, you have been totally baffled as to what has been wrong. Keeping that in mind, I purposely haven’t posted anything about it yet because it has taken me some time to research the subject so that I could a) understand my own condition and b) explain exactly what having adrenal fatigue means. In order to begin, we must first understand the purpose and function of the adrenal glands.
Clinical Nutritionists, Drs. Rick and Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN (coauthors of The Gluten Effect and the founders of HealthNOW Medical Center), have done extensive research on this subject, and have written some interesting articles that suggest that adrenal exhaustion is one of the most overlooked causes of fatigue that can be helped with clinical nutrition. Click here to read Dr. Rick's article. Dr. Vikki reports that "When an individual has a symptom they often feel better when others around them share the same symptom. Perhaps it’s where the: 'Misery loves company' expression came from. But a 'common' symptom is not a 'normal' symptom and it’s not normal to feel tired." To read Dr. Vikki's article, click here.
I have been working with Dr. Rick to correct my adrenal fatigue, and he told me that many things can put stress on the adrenal glands, eventually overwhelming a healthy body and causing organ or system malfunction. The most common stressors are allergies (food and airborne), lack of sleep, low blood sugar/poor diet, chronic pain, anxiety/emotional stress, and chronic infection. Once the adrenal glands have been overwhelmed and systems begin to malfunction, the resulting symptoms can be devastating.
I have spent many hours looking for answers and researching via the web, and I ran across some great information on the Point of Return website. Because I recognized myself in their table of signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue, I thought I’d share it here:
Mild: gains weight easily
Moderate: can’t lose weight
Severe: thin, can’t gain weight
Eyes and cheeks sunken
Tend to be full
Tissue surrounding eye
Sunken appearance, may have dark circles
Tendency to pallor, particularly around mouth for fair skinned, darkens around mouth, forehead and sides of face for dark skinned
Thin, straw-like or straighter; dry; falls out easily; sparse on forearms and lower legs
Dry; thin; finger-prints often “smoothed out” or flat/shiny; may have longitudinal wrinkles over finger-pads, possibly from low collagen levels
Little secretions; can’t hold onto water
Lax ligaments, flat feet or double jointed; joint sprains/strains common
White spots or patches; sometimes tan too easily; in dark skin – darker on forehead
Headaches; migraines; muscle pain; carpal tunnel
Hot when it’s warm and cold when it’s cool; poor thermo-regulation; tends to have low body temperature (around 97.8 or lower); fluctuation pattern
Almost always cold intolerant
Cold hands and feet
May be excessive in early phase; poor in late phase
Tendency to over-react which results in allergies, sensitivities, autoimmune issues
Almost always present
Insomnia or light sleeper common
Poor focus, concentration, brain fog
Fatigue/exhaustion; “wired and tired”; low motivation
Often causes fatigue
Tends to run low (from 80/50 at low end to 110/70 at high end)
Often leans toward being vegetarian
Often difficulty digesting meat or proteins; some foods troublesome
Tendency to be irritable or hyperactive
Sweets, carbohydrates, soda, black licorice
Tendency to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
After reviewing the table above, you too may recognize yourself in some or most of the categories listed. So what should a person do once they suspect that they have adrenal fatigue? First, work with your physician to determine for sure by getting adrenal function lab testing done. Once you have the results, coordinate your treatment plan with your physician and focus on getting your health back.
In addition to a tailored treatment program, there are other things you can do to help:
§ Eat organic, fresh foods, including lots of lightly steamed or raw vegetables
§ Eat regular meals, preferably small amounts, every 2 hours. It is VERY important that you do not allow your blood sugar to go too low and that your levels remain balanced throughout the day.
§ When consuming carbohydrates (whole foods), be sure to combine them with protein such as nuts and seeds, fiber, and oils such as olive, flax, and high quality omega-3 fish oil
§ Drink plenty of water (½ your body weight in ounces per day)
§ Work with your physician to add nutritional supplements such as magnesium, zinc, coQ10, etc.
§ Get plenty of sleep (at least 8 hours)
§ Reduce stress
§ Skipping meals
§ All refined sugar, chocolate, hydrogenated fats, refined carbohydrates and junk foods
§ Eating carbohydrates by themselves
§ Caffeine, alcohol, sodas, juice
§ Artificial sweeteners (Stevia is okay)
§ Foods that you react to or are allergic to (Keep a food log)
The human body is an intricate, creative masterpiece, beautifully designed to heal itself. It is up to us to take care of our bodies and nurture them; and I am very hopeful that you and I will continue getting better…one day at a time.
Well, I’ve spent some time this week searching for recipes and found a tasty meatless chili recipe on cooking.com, pictured here with my Savory Herb Crackers and modified to suit my tastes and dietary needs. Check it out on my Favorite Recipes tab…I hope you enjoy it!
See you soon!