Is Adrenal Fatigue Real?

hormonal imbalance

Is adrenal fatigue a real thing?

Despite the obvious fact that millions of people are suffering from the built-up toll that stress can put on the body with clear signs of hormonal issues and fatigue that just won't quit, the term "adrenal fatigue" is still considered with scrutiny by many. 

The thing is,  we get it and today we want to share our thoughts on this popular argument. 

ABOUT THE ADRENALS

The adrenal glands are, by nature, tough and mighty little things. 
These little powerhouses are two walnut-sized glands that sit comfortably on top of the kidneys. They secrete hormones involved with all the major physiological processes in the body and are there to help our body adapt, adjust and survive the events the day may bring us. 

You know that rush of adrenaline you feel when something scares or excites you? 
Yup, that's your adrenals prepping your body to take flight or to fight if that's what the situation may entail. 

These days, more than the need to fight or run away from threats, our bodies are pumping out stress hormones as we worry about things at work, as we deal with the complexities of different relationships, family stuff, financial things and so on and so forth.  The problem is the stress we're tackling today isn't fleeting like that moment when you see a bear in the woods is. These days we're stressing all the time about different things and if we aren't mentally stressing, sometimes the stress comes from dietary things, physical things, immune conditions, digestive problems, sleep schedules or general inflammation in the body. There are many different forms of stress. 

WHAT IS ADRENAL FATIGUE?

fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue is commonly thought of as a condition when the adrenal glands get "fatigued" or "collapse" from excessive wear and tear. After enduring periods of chronically high stress demands (or short periods of extremely high stress) these glands take a physical hit and can no longer produce stress hormones at the rate they used to. We agree that excessive wear and tear can implicate these glands to an extent.. but that's not the entire problem. 

Adrenal issues stem from these two places: 
the adrenal glands and the brain. 

communication

The adrenal glands don't just produce stress hormones blindly or intuitively.
They get their instructions from signals and communication from our brain through the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis (the HPA Axis).  When the adrenal glands are making too much cortisol or not enough cortisol, the communication along the HPA Axis between the brain and the adrenals must be considered... because more than just a fatigued glandular issue, there typically is a signaling problem between the brain and the adrenals.  Signaling issues between the two have a direct effect on how the adrenals behave and how the body responds to circulating cortisol too. 

So to be clear, when we say adrenal fatigue.. we are using a popular term for this greater idea of adrenal dysregulation. 

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SOME SIGNS OF ADRENAL FATIGUE OR ASSOCIATED HORMONAL IMBALANCE: 

  • Auto-immune conditions
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Anemia (iron deficiency)
  • Weight gain in the belly area that you can't seem to lose
  • Decrease or loss in muscle mass
  • You wake up in the early hours of the morning (between 3-5am)
  • Brain fog
  • Increase of energy in the evening after dinner
  • Anxiety or depressive thoughts
  • Eyes are sensitive to the light
  • Easily startled
  • Feeling dizzy when you stand up too fast
  • Slow wound healing or slow to recover from illness
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Feeling constantly tired- a tired that is not relieved by sleep (CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME)
  • Feeling like you can't relax
  • Cravings for salt or salty foods
  • Easily irritated or intolerant to stress
  • Digestive issues and sudden new food intolerances
  • Dependence on stimulants to function (coffee, colas, energy drinks, ect.)
  • Decreased libido
  • Exaggerated menopausal symptoms
  • Irritability if a meal is missed aka "HANGRY"
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid)
  • Decreased immune system
  • Increased or exaggerated PMS symptoms
  • Fibrocystic breasts or fibroids
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Fertility issues
  • Low blood pressure

So, how do you fix the dysregulation?

When it comes to fixing the signaling issues mentioned above and nourishing up a depleted body that is suffering from exposure to chronic or excessive stress, it really begins with a self-check-in... with asking yourself where you could start respecting your body and its boundaries a little more.  It comes back to simple self-care, good food, making sleep and yourself a priority.  Sounds simple, doesn't it?

So why are so many people stuck struggling for so long?

The thing is that hormonal issues can feel really complicated.... 

there's a tonne of conflicting information in books and on the internet, 

one doctor says one thing, another says another, 

and changing the way you live can be really flippin' hard!

Slowing down and making changes like nixing the people pleasing attitudes, changing your work and lifestyle habits, making key dietary changes and setting boundaries for yourself isn't always a walk in the park... especially if you are super type A (like so many of us struggling with adrenal issues are). On top of that, just because you're wanting to stress less doesn't mean that the things that stressed you out before are going to necessarily go away--  so a whole mental shift needs to happen. The way we perceive stress and handle it needs to be tweaked, and yes my loves... it's challenging! It takes practice, it takes patience, it takes a lot of conscious effort.

We know you have it in you, though! 

Ready to break through the patterns that are keeping you stuck and to get a clear personalized plan to recovery? Click here to see if you qualify for a FREE Breakthrough Power Session with one of our Team Professionals. 

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Hot + Healthy Holiday Drinks

Snowy, winter days are here in Toronto. 

With the holiday season upon us, it's the perfect time to put on your wooly socks and get comfy on the couch with a good book and a nice warm, festive beverage. 

In my past life, I'd be cozying up with copious cups of coffee. 
Coffee hasn't disappeared completely from my life these days, but my relationship with it has changed considerably since my struggles with adrenal fatigue.   Read more about this change here. 

These days, I have found really fun ways to enjoy festive drinks and "lattes" in ways that support my health. I'm super excited to share a few of my favourite recipes with your today! Unlike coffee, these drinks won't interfere with your sleep, make you anxious or put excessive cortisol demands on the adrenals. 

I've also snuck in a few special ingredients to help keep them balanced and extra hormone loving. 

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In the spirit of the holiday season, today I'm pumped to share a few of my favorite hot + healthy, festive drinks.


All of these recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and sweetened naturally. 

Gingerbread Cookie Latte

gingerbread latte
  • 2 cups steamed nut milk
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp molasses 
  • optional- 1 scoop of Dandy Blend Coffee alternative

Heat nut milk over the stove, whisk in spices and vanilla. 
Transfer to a blender (or use a hand mixer) and add coconut oil and molasses. 

Serves 2. 

Creamy Cashew Egg Nog

vegan eggnog
  • 1 cup soaked, raw cashews
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp quality salt
  • 6 re-hydrated dates
  • a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
  • optional- 2 scoops of collagen protein powder (we like this one)

Add everything to a high powered blender and blend well. 
Pour 1 cup into a mug/glass and garnish with fresh nutmeg and a cinnamon stick.
Serves 4-6

Collagen Loaded Hot "Chocolate" 

hot chocolate
  • 1 cup steamed nut milk of choice (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp carob powder
  • 1/2 tsp cacao powder (we like this one)
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 heaping tbsp of collagen protein (we like this one)
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • Optional- make healthy, homemade marshmallows like these and float one on top! 

Over the stove top, heat your milk. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients or use a blender or hand mixer if you prefer it frothy. Depending on the time of day or how sensitive you are to caffeine, you can omit the cacao and use more carob or vice versa. 

For more holiday recipes, including my favorite festive "mocktails" be sure to grab our Holiday Adrenal Survival Guide below! 

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Wishing you health and happiness this holiday season!
xo Danielle + the HYAF Team

 

 

Holiday Adrenal Survival Guide

YOUR HOLIDAY ADRENAL SURVIVAL GUIDE

We all know the holidays can be a stressful and exhausting time. I remember how challenging it was when I had stage 3 adrenal fatigue.

But through the years, Danielle and I have learned a few tips and tricks, to make this time of year WAY more enjoyable. 

We're excited to share these with you today...

What if you could enjoy your time with family?

What if you could avoid burnout this year?

What if this holiday season was flare-up FREE?

We believe ALL these are possible with these stellar tips we’re about to share with you.

And make sure you download our sweet gift, a free holiday adrenal survival guide to help you implement these tips. The Holiday Guide includes a checklist of to-dos, self-care planning, recipes and more.

1.       Be Prepared So You Don’t Feel Deprived

Chances are you have food restrictions of some kind or a special diet. Don’t go another holiday making yourself feel deprived. Instead, plan to bring your own side dishes and dessert that you can enjoy. Make them or buy them. We are fortunate now that stores are accommodating so many diet restrictions these days. Check your local natural food market or Whole Foods for delicious options that meet your food needs.

And make sure you grab our Holiday Adrenal Survival Guide for some great adrenal friendly recipes.

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2.       Say “No”

Don’t be afraid to say no to activities or engagements that feel super heavy and have the potential to cause great stress and anxiety. When you say “no” to those things you are saying “YES” to your health, your sanity, your well-being. You don’t have to do it all. Maybe you can say goodbye to that holiday cookie exchange this year...

3.       Shop Online

We are so lucky we no longer HAVE to deal with long lines at the shopping mall or stores in order to get through our holiday shopping list. We can shop almost anywhere online now. Take advantage of it.  If you MUST go out and shop choose early mornings or evenings during the weekdays. If hitting up the mall, it's important to have a game plan- what you need and where you need to go, this is especially important if you find malls to be stressful places. 

4.       Limit the Gift Craziness

Is your holiday giving gift list super long? Are you worried, first how you will get it all done and second, how you will pay for it? Ask your extended family if they’d like to pick names instead this year and maybe just increase the price limit so everyone gets something they really want. This is a great way to give one really meaningful gift, to reduce stress and to ease some financial pressure. 

5.       Stop the Emailing Craziness

I don’t know about you, but I get sick of all the family gift exchange emails asking me what me, my husband and children want. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do feel blessed to have some generous family, but the back and forth gets to be too much. And then after you share your ideas, there’s the back and forth of someone wondering if Aunt Jane already got that or now or you get 3 of the same thing. You can solve all that easily by making an Amazon wish list. People mark off the items on the list once they buy them so no more emails like that to waste your time and even better no returning repeat gifts after the holidays. And Amazon is not the only option, here are a few more. There is Giftry.com and Wishmindr.com

6.       Give Yourself a Gift

adrenal fatigue and holidays.jpeg

Balance out the holiday chaos with some rejuvenating self-care. The next few weeks will most likely be full. Find yourself an hour each week at least and do something just for YOU. Book yourself a massage or spa time. That could be your partner’s gift to you. Or just take a break from shopping and walk outside in nature.

7.       Limit Time with Those That Drain You

We love our families and they mean well, but they also know how to push our buttons more than anyone else. If your family drains your energy and causes you anxiety, say “NO” or at least limit your time with them.

And if you will be spending time with family that is challenging we have a tip for you. Be prepared by choosing to react differently to them. I like to think about a bubble of protection around me... and this bubble is keeping me calm and it also helps me see things for what they are. When a family member makes a comment that would normally affect you, you don’t let it come into your bubble. You walk away or maybe say something as simple as, “Sorry you feel that way” or my favorite “that’s an interesting point of view”.

Remember a lot of times people say hurtful things to protect themselves. So that SH$#! Is there’s, not yours. Let it go and don't let it impede on your holiday fun. 

8.       Choose Calm When Things Get Intense

When you’re driving around running errands and things feel intense, put on calming meditation music. Which you can get free on youtube.com or if you want guided meditations for energy boosting and stress relief particularly for adrenal fatigue sufferers, grab my meditation album or give this gift to someone you know who could really benefit. 

9.       Don’t Forget The Protein

This time of year, there are sugar loaded treats everywhere you go. Make sure you are balancing sugar intake with healthy fats and proteins. This will also prevent sugar “crashes” and keep your energy high.  Pair this with a bit of portion control and this is a great tip to help navigate holiday meals without sparking major spikes and crashes. 

10.   Remember to Move

The Holidays often create sluggishness. Say goodbye to the food comas by continuing to move and be active this holiday season. This will also keep you from putting on extra pounds. After a big meal, take a walk around the block and maybe ask the family to join you. You can have great conversations while you’re walking and it's amazing what a bit of fresh air can do to help calm and refresh the body. 

11.   Eat Mindfully

When you’re eating this holiday season I challenge you to be super present. Savoring your food, enjoy its flavor, be grateful and take it slow. Great digestion starts right in the mouth. Chew slowing and thoroughly, allowing those enzymes in your saliva to start the process. Also, when you eat slowly you realize sooner when you are full, which will keep you from overeating. When filling your plate, we encourage you to fill your plate with vegetables first, then add a bit of protein and be mindful of the starchy, high carb options. This is a great way to help ensure you're filling up on quality foods and will help keep you on track with your health goals at the same time. 

There you go, 11 tips to not just surviving the holidays, but thriving

Be sure to grab our Holiday Adrenal Survival Guide below for yummy holiday recipes, and your planning tool box for embracing the most stress-free holidays ever!

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We wish you a healthy, calm and happy holiday season! 
xo Angela, Danielle + the HYAF Team

Support Healthy Hormones at Holiday Meals + Events

Advice for keeping things healthy throughout the holidays

This time of year can be a challenge to stay on track with your health goals.

There are social pressures, tempting deliciousness, staying up later than usual, the usual busy holiday stuff-- it's tiring.

For those of us who are already tired,  it's a time we fall victim to operating out of chaos, taking care of others and not fully taking the best care of ourselves. It can be extra tiring. 

As the festive season approaches, we want to make sure you're well prepared with tips, tools and tricks for keeping things easy and healthy throughout the season. 

Wouldn't it be NICE to kick off the new year a few steps closer to your HEALTH goals INSTEAD OF A FEW STEPS BACK? 

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adrenalfatigue-holidays

Here are our top tips for navigating the holidays in healthy hormone fashion: 

  1. Always, always, watch portion sizes.
    You can indulge a bit during the holidays but by watching how much you indulge, can help keep blood sugar balanced and help reduce digestive stress.

  2. Take digestive enzymes before meals
    This will help ensure you're digesting food effectively, especially if you're eating something out of the norm. If your prone to bloating, gas and discomfort after meals-- enzymes can help. Pop one or two enzymes before a meal to boost your digestive support. 

  3. Embrace mocktails
    Drinking too much during the holidays is another thing that throws off our blood sugar, adds stress to our liver, and contributes to further hormonal imbalance. Holiday drinks may seem unavoidable, but I encourage you to consider the state of your adrenals + hormones and whether or not indulging will be worth it for you.
    -  For some in earlier stages of adrenal fatigue, a few drinks with family or friends at a special occasion is not the end of the world. If you do indulge, replenish your body with filtered water, electrolytes, minerals and b-vitamins. 
    -   However, for a very fatigued body, opting for a non-alcoholic beverage will likely serve you better. One of my go-to's is a nice Kombucha sangria -- add kombucha to a wine glass, throw in a few organic frozen berries and enjoy.  

  4. Take advantage of downtime when you can
    This can be hard for the type A in you. One of the big problems for many AF sufferers is the fact that, generally, we aren't the best at relaxing. When we are given a day off, we might fill it with activities, chores and the holiday come and go. We head back to work after a "holiday" without feeling very rejuvenated. If needed, schedule time for activities and chores, but also schedule time for chilling out and relaxing like a massage, journaling in bed or in nature, reading a book, or taking a bath.

  5. Consider ways to healthy up your holiday meals
    One of the benefits of the abundance of food available during the holidays is that you can often find something to suit the majority styles of eating. For example, if you eat paleo, a plate of turkey, salad, and roast veggies make a pretty killer paleo style holiday meal. If you're eating gluten free- avoid the dinner roll and grab the "Healthy Up Your Holidays" Guide below, I've included a swap out guide for replacing white flour in traditional holiday recipes (and lot of other tips too). 

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Wishing you a healthy, happy holiday season! 
xo Danielle + the HYAF team