By Chrissy Williams, MS, RD, LDN
Women’s Health Functional Dietitian
‘Adrenal burnout’ or 'adrenal fatigue' is a term that’s gotten lots of traction the last few years and unfortunately, it’s because too many women are suffering from it. While most mainstream medical doctors don't recognize this as an official medical condition, many functional/integrative medical doctors and dietitians will help diagnose and treat this condition.
So what exactly is adrenal burnout?
Our adrenal glands support cortisol (stress) production, and play a huge role in how energized we feel throughout the day. If our adrenals are overworked from our stress output (triggered by physical and emotional stressors), and can no longer keep up with the high demand of cortisol break down, the adrenals will slow down--ultimately leading to burnout symptoms which can include:
constantly feeling revved up/unable to relax
weight loss resistance/unintentional weight gain
poor sleep quality
poor blood sugar balance
One of the key functional tests I love running with my clients is the Dutch Hormone test where we get a true depiction of their hormone metabolism, including adrenal activity. The DUTCH test provides a comprehensive look at your sex hormones, adrenal hormones, vitamin and neurotransmitter metabolites, oxidative stress biomarkers and more to help you and your provider find answers to the complex clinical questions that affect your health. Unlike other tests, it doesn’t require a blood sample and can be performed in-office or from the comfort of your own home.
Now before you start stressing over the fact that you may be currently experiencing adrenal burnout too, take a deep breath! We wouldn’t want to add more fuel to the fire, right?
The good news is that there are strategic ways to recover from burnout that include stress management, nervous system support, and making adjustments to your diet.
Here are 3 ways you can better support your adrenals and recover from burnout:
Support your cortisol awakening response (CAR) by eating breakfast within one hour of waking. Not only will this habit trigger initial energy production in the morning, but it will also support blood sugar balance throughout the day. Be sure to pair your breakfast (and most meals) with quality protein, fiber and healthy fat.
Nourish your adrenals with the key nutrients your adrenals need to thrive! Increase whole food vitamin C intake, - foods like citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, cruciferous veggies. Increase potassium-rich foods like coconut and coconut water, aloe vera juice, bananas, grapefruit, potatoes, brussels sprouts. High quality sodium is also helpful, I love Redmond's sea salt or celtic salt. An adrenal smoothie is a great way to get all of these nutrients in at once!
Reduce stress on your adrenal glands by drinking 8-12 oz. of water before your morning coffee and limiting overall caffeine intake daily. Examples: if you’re used to drinking 3 cups, can you cut back to 2? If you’re used to a 3pm coffee break, can you choose half-caf, decaf or swap to herbal tea?
Simple tweaks like this will allow your adrenals to recover more quickly, making you feel better faster!