Did you know that about 90% of those struggling with thyroid disease also have some form of adrenal fatigue? When the adrenals become taxed, they tell the pituitary to slow down the thyroid. If you struggle with thyroid disease, it’s important you take steps to heal the adrenals so the rest of your endocrine system can return to homeostasis.
Here are some common symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
A tendency to be a night person
Having difficulty falling asleep
Waking up in the middle of the night with difficulty falling back asleep
You’re a slow starter in the morning
Feeling keyed up and having trouble calming down
Low blood pressure
Headaches after exercising
Clenching or grinding your teeth
Chronic low- or middle-back pain
Difficulty maintaining chiropractic adjustments
Craving salty foods
Chronic fatigue or getting drowsy often
Seasonal or chronic allergies
Pain on the medial (inner) side of the knee or knees
Needing to wear sunglasses
Dizziness when you stand up
Difficulty losing weight
Gaining weight around the waistline
Getting upset or angry easily
Doesn’t that sound like “modern life?” No wonder people are having so many endocrine issues!
What do the adrenals do?
The adrenal glands are the body’s emergency system. When the body is under chronic stress, the adrenals will send out cortisol into the bloodstream. Over time, chronic cortisol output will weaken the endocrine system, liver, digestive system, and brain; it will also “slow down” your thyroid. So, if you are wanting to reduce your thyroid symptoms, start with healthy adrenal glands.
What do you eat?
While a lower carb diet is fabulous to reduce inflammation and many symptoms of thyroid disease, eating this way for too long can put stress on the adrenals and cause hormonal imbalance. So it’s important to get good, healthy carbs into your diet each day such as: potatoes (make sure to eat with plenty of butter), root vegetables, peas, properly prepared legumes or gluten-free grains (if you can tolerate them), apples, pears, berries, and beets.
I like Dr. Christianson’s idea of eating one golfball-size portion of carbs at breakfast, two golfball-size portions of carbs at lunch, and three golfball-size portions of carbs at dinner. Using this method, dinner should be the largest meal of the day. And most importantly, don’t stress about your food. Do the best you can, and let the rest go.
As you read the list below, remember: this is a marathon, not a sprint. Fully healing the adrenals may take up to 12 months. The good news is that even making just a few changes can help you feel better within weeks or even days.
Here are 20 Steps to Heal Adrenal Fatigue:
1. As soon as you wake up, drink a glass of water along with 1/4 teaspoon of Celtic sea salt. Then, throughout the day, have a pinch of sea salt with each glass of water and also use it to season your food. Daily total consumption of about 2 teaspoons of Celtic sea salt is a good place to start. The 80+ minerals in the salt will help nourish the adrenals and endocrine system.
2. Eat breakfast within one hour of waking. If you wait any longer than this, it can cause your blood sugar levels to decrease too much and your adrenals will start kicking out the cortisol.
3. Eat a small snack between breakfast and lunch: a boiled egg, 1 ounce raw cheese, a spoonful of nut butter, etc.
4. Have lunch about 4 hours after eating breakfast and include some protein, carbs and fat in your meal. I know this is a simple step, but skipping meals will put strain on your adrenals.
5. Only do low-impact exercise like walking, pilates, gentle yoga or stretching. High impact exercise puts strain on the adrenals, especially when the adrenals are already fatigued. If you’re having trouble losing weight, I know this can seem counter-productive, but I’ve seen clients lose weight by resting and following the steps I’m listing here.
6. Sit down to eat each meal and eat slowly. Don’t eat on-the-go, when you’re stressed, driving, etc. Here’s an entire article to help you understand the importance of eating in a slow and relaxed state.
7. Diffuse essential oils throughout the day to help you feel more relaxed. If you can’t diffuse the oils, put a drop or two on the bottoms of your feet twice a day to help lower stress levels. In fact, this study found that inhaling lavender essential oil can decrease cortisol levels. That’s good news for the adrenals! Do make sure you only use a completely pure essential oil so you aren’t adding any synthetic chemicals to your body — that could stress your system further. I personally use doTERRA essential oils for me and my family and have found them incredibly helpful. Some of my personal favorites are Lavender, Balance, Serenity, Ylang Ylang and Lemon.
8. Eat a snack in-between lunch and dinner: again, a boiled egg, 1 ounce raw cheese, a spoonful of nut butter, etc.
and make sure to sit down while you eat.
9. Eat dinner no later than 6 or 7pm and make sure to sit down while you eat. Dinner should be your largest meal of the day. This will help keep cortisol levels down at the end of the day.
10. Don’t eat any food after dinner except if you have trouble sleeping. If you’re having trouble going to sleep, eat a small snack (an ounce of raw cheese, a spoonful of nut butter, etc.) right before you go to bed. This will help bring cortisol levels down. If you wake up in the middle of the night, eat a small snack again and then get right back into bed.
11. Take an epsom salt bath a few times a week (or each evening, if you can). When you’re stressed, the first mineral your body burns through is magnesium (this is why so many people are magnesium deficient!). Soaking in a bath with 1 cup of epsom salts and a few drops of your favorite essential oil will help you relax and replenish your magnesium stores.
12. Go to bed by 9pm each night. Honestly, the best way to heal your adrenals is with sleep.
13. Take the right kind of B Vitamins – I recommend Cataplex B from Standard Process.
14. Try an Adrenal Tonic that contains adaptogenic herbs – Our office carries an adrenal tonic we mix in-house. It contains ashwaganda, licorice root and rhodiola. It’s immensely helpful for calming the body.
15. Drink plenty of filtered water each day. Drink 1/2 your weight in ounces is a good goal — a 160-pound person should drink about 80 ounces of water per day. Hydration is really important for the endocrine system. Without the right amount of water, the body can’t transport the necessary nutrients and hormones to the cells properly. So, please make sure you’re getting enough water.
16. Eat as many fresh organic vegetables as possible at all three meals with some healthy fats. There is no limit on vegetable intake.
17. Include protein at each meal – get these proteins from meat, poultry, wild seafood, eggs, etc.
18. If you have trouble with sweet cravings, then eat a butter mint every 30-60 minutes for the first two weeks to normalize your blood sugar. Here’s an easy recipe for butter mints.
19. Eliminate all caffeine. I know this is a hard one, but your adrenals will thank you! Here’s a post about how I kicked the coffee habit — with step-by-step instructions for you.
20. Take one day of rest each week. While it’s popular to “hustle”, that kind of daily mentality can lead to all sorts of health issues and will strain the adrenals. Take a day each week to rest. Turn off your phone, get outside, or just sleep all day if that’s what your body needs. It’s ok. God set the example by taking a day to rest, so I order my week that way, too!
If you’re curious to know exactly what your adrenals are up to, you can call our office at Biodynamic Wellness and order an adrenal test kit. It’s $120 and will give you insight into which stage of adrenal burnout you’re in. You can also schedule a consult with me and I’ll write up a personalized protocol to help you bounce back from adrenal fatigue. I’ve used many of these steps with my clients and have seen fantastic results!