You may be familiar with the term adrenal fatigue as it has become a more common phrase lately. But what exactly is adrenal fatigue or adrenal burnout, and what does it have to do with gut health?
Actually, the health of your adrenals has everything to do with the health of your gut. The link is quite significant.
Hormones are the key to a resilient gut and abounding energy. One of the keys to having a healthy gut and healing leaky gut and other digestive issues is to have the right amount of hormones to support your gut. Ultimately, when your hormones are out of balance (either too high or too low), your gut health suffers.
Even if you don’t have apparent digestive issues, if you are under chronic stress, then your adrenals may be weak, which can negatively affect your overall health.
There are 3 main stages of adrenal fatigue:
Stage 1 – Cortisol levels are too high all the time. Many people feel good during this stage, have a lot of energy, and can burn the candle at both ends.
Stage 2 – If you’re in stage 1, and you don’t make any diet or lifestyle changes, you will eventually move into stage 2. At this point your cortisol levels will start to drop too low, and you will begin to experience fatigue and other symptoms.
Stage 3 – At this point, your cortisol levels are too low virtually all of the time. You will likely feel exhausted and have no energy to do the daily activities you’re used to.
You might be wondering how hormones affect the health of your gut.
Cortisol and DHEA are two very important adrenal hormones. They are made throughout the body, but they are primarily produced by the adrenal glands. They help regulate the digestive tract by strengthening the immune system and reducing inflammation.
Cortisol is the main anti-inflammatory hormone in the gut. Therefore, if you experience chronic digestive issues, there is likely a cortisol imbalance. Your cortisol may be too high or too low. This can lead to inflammation in the gut, which leads to inflammation in other areas of your body.
DHEA is extremely important for your immune system as it helps fight and prevent infections in your gut. As humans we are exposed to pathogenic bacteria on a regular basis, and DHEA helps keep these bacteria from infecting your body.
So, as you can see, having the right amounts of cortisol and DHEA is essential for a healthy gut, optimal digestion, and health immune function.
These two hormones are also linked to other symptoms you might be experiencing.
Cortisol is linked to blood sugar regulation. So, if your blood sugar is too high or too low, you may have cortisol issues.
Cortisol is strongly linked to blood pressure as well. If your blood pressure tends to be too low, that’s a good sign that your cortisol output is too low.
The quality of your sleep is also a sign of your adrenal health. If you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or not feeling rested when you wake up, that is a sign of cortisol dysregulation.
If you are one of the many couples struggling to get pregnant, it could be a sign of an adrenal issue. Adrenal hormones help regulate sex hormones, so you have to fix your adrenals before you can focus on the sex hormones.
Below are some other common symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
- Lower back pain
- Knee weakness or pain
- Excessive sweating from little activity
- Muscle twitches
- Sensitivity to light
- Heart palpitations
- Easily irritated
- Salt cravings
- Chronic infections (bacterial, fungal, yeast)
- Light-headedness upon standing
- Excessive mood response after eating carbs
- Tired and wired
- Sweet, sugar, and carb cravings
- Premature aging
- Dry skin
- Low labido
- Easily startled
Restoring your adrenals is possible through lifestyle modifications, diet, and supplementation. I feel it’s necessary to state that supplementation without lifestyle changes will not work. It is critical that you implement healthy lifestyle changes to promote balance and reduce stress.
Below are a few changes you can make immediately to support your adrenals.
In part 2 of the article, I’ll discuss effective long-term strategies, supplementation, and adrenal testing, so you can take necessary steps to healing.
- Eliminate sugar and processed food. Processed carbs and sugar put a lot of stress on the adrenals. It’s important to cut these items out of your diet to strengthen your adrenals.
- Incorporate a natural, whole foods-based diet. Eat clean, animal protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits.
- Eliminate gluten, dairy, and soy as these foods tend to cause inflammation.
Get quality sleep. We all need 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. In order to strengthen your adrenals, you must get sufficient sleep. Make it your goal to go to bed by 10pm every night.
- Quit the coffee habit. I know this might seem like an impossible task, but coffee wears out your adrenals. Drink plenty of fresh water and herbal tea in place of coffee for 30 days. Then stick to no more than one cup of coffee in the morning.
If you’ve been suffering from digestive issues and/or adrenal fatigue then be sure to sign up for your FREE Digestion Guide!