We all have those sluggish days but if you are finding yourself stuck in a constant state of lethargy, where even the simplest of tasks seem challenging, it may be that your adrenals are depleted. Adrenal Fatigue leads to lower levels of hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn, can affect every single part of your body. There are a number of contributing factors to adrenal fatigue, many of which are lifestyle-related. Poor diet, high stress, lack of quality sleep are just a few to mention. Some are more serious and have developed into chronic health conditions like diabetes, hypothyroidism or congestive heart failure. So let's address some of the lifestyle factors that could be at play:
Poor diet and vital nutrient deficiencies
The foods you consume can have a huge impact on the way your body performs. Sugar, as we all know by now, has a significant effect on our blood sugar levels. When we consume high sugar foods, our blood sugar spikes and we experience a sudden lift in energy. However, it doesn't take too long before your blood sugar levels drop again and guess what, your energy levels go down with it. Maintaining balanced blood sugar levels is key to sustained energy throughout the day. That means eliminating the quick digesting sugary, refined and processed junk, for slower digesting, nutrient-rich, whole foods.
Try adding high fiber fruits and vegetables, beans, complex carbohydrates and good quality fats and proteins. B vitamins, particularly B5, B6 and B12, play an important role in cell metabolism. B5 helps to produce co-enzyme A, which contributes to cellular respiration and the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. B6 acts in several of the pathways that are used to create adrenal hormones.
B12, perhaps the most important of the three, helps with energy production, cell repair and the maintenance of our red blood cells. B12 is found primarily in animal products including dairy, eggs, and meats, so generally, vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of deficiency. Stomach acid plays a major role in the absorption of vitamin B12 because stomach acid is required to liberate vitamin B12 from food. Older adults and those who regularly take medications that suppress stomach acid may also have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 from food, so supplementation is highly recommended. Improving your metabolic pathways boosts your energy levels and is a great way to reduce fatigue.
When you experience stress your adrenal glands produce cortisol (the key stress hormone) which sends you into fight or flight mode. At one time, the main threat we faced was being attacked by predators, so this fight or flight mode was a key survival instinct we utilized to protect ourselves. In today's reality, a lot of our day to day stressors are not quite as comparable. Fight or flight response sends blood to your extremities, so you can run faster or fight harder. What you can’t do, however, is digest your food effectively, or sleep soundly when you’re in this state. Constant exposure to stress can lend itself to adrenal exhaustion, resulting in a higher cortisol release to lower levels of stress that otherwise wouldn’t trigger such a response. When stress interferes with daily life for an extended period of time, the body starts to lose the ability to combat the stress and to reduce its harmful impact; the adaptive energy is drained and typically leads to “burnout”.
Lack of Zzz's
On average, most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night but the pace of today's society often doesn't allow for that. However, sleep is not just a numbers game, the quality matters too. A lack of quality rest time leaves you feeling irritable, moody and definitely low in energy. Try to cut back on caffeine and stimulating activity. Eliminate the use of computers or television before bed; even better, take them out of the bedroom entirely! Sleeping in complete darkness, cooler temperatures and a comfortable space with zero distractions can help to improve your sleep environment for better quality rest. Meditation, stretching and other relaxation exercises will help to reduce stress and boost the immune system.
Add in some Super-Food support
Sometimes, making all of these healthier choices requires motivation aka, more energy. The good news is, the wonderful world of nutrient-dense super-foods are on hand to help your body find balance.
Also known as Peruvian Ginseng, Maca is grown in the high plateaus of the Andes mountains in Peru. Centuries ago, Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Ch.) was presented to the best Incan warriors to give them energy before battle.
Maca root is an adaptogenic herb, which means it can help your body to adapt to stress. It’s rich in nutrients, like B vitamins and vitamin C (both of which your adrenals need for dealing with stress) and minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron (all important minerals for energy).
Maca is also a rich source of antioxidants and phytonutrients and even plant-based protein. Aside from its nutritional profile, maca helps to relieve anxiety and depression to support energy and mood balance. It also supports the endocrine system to help balance both female and male hormones improving fertility and boosting sexual libido. When you’re using maca, a gelatinized variety is more digestible. The more digestible the product, the easier it is for your body to absorb the nutrients and benefits of the root. With a higher solubility than standard powders, Organika's Gelatinized Maca Powder can be easily blended into tea and smoothies, baked into desserts and added to yogurt and granola, which makes it our first choice!
Kava Kava root comes from a tall shrub that grows in the Pacific Islands. Traditionally it's used as a ceremonial drink whereby the roots are chewed and spat into a bowl of coconut or cold water. The mix is then filtered through coconut fibers and emptied into a separate bowl for consumption. The drink is served in island communities of the South Pacific as a social beverage, and in ceremonial ritual to welcome guests and dignitaries. It’s also used in Herbal Medicine for its ability to make you feel calmer. It provides a sense of relaxation while relieving the burden of anxiety, restlessness and nervousness and stress-related symptoms such as muscle tension or spasm.
Kava Kava works fast, so it’s a great option for those times when stress sneaks up on you or becomes too much to handle. Organika's Kava Kava Root comes in an easy to use liquid tincture so you can add it to a cup of herbal tea, or drink it with water to reap the benefits.