This is a direct copy of a guest post I wrote for I Quit Sugar on how sugar affects your adrenals, sometimes contributing to “Adrenal Fatigue”! The original post can be found here. You can also check out the I Quit Sugar 8 Week Program here.
Exhausted? Stressed? Foggy? Dizzy? You could be suffering from “Adrenal Fatigue”.
Why the quotation marks? “Adrenal fatigue” is the laymans term for something more accurately known as Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Dysregulation, or HPA Axis Dysregulation for short (kind of).
It means the way the body responds to stress has gone bung. It can affect your cortisol levels, your ability to regulate blood sugar, your blood pressure and your energy levels. Not fun!
What causes adrenal fatigue in the first place?
Our modern lifestyle is a recipe for disaster when it comes to adrenal fatigue.
Common contributing factors include high stress levels, chronic over-exercise, calorie restriction or lack of sleep, as well as excessive amounts of caffeine and (you guessed it) a high-sugar, nutrient-poor diet.
It is never ONE factor alone that causes adrenal fatigue. It’s more an accumulation of things over time that drags you down this path.
So what’s sugar got to do with it?
The thing is this; when you consume foods high in sugar, it causes a rapid rise and then fall in your blood sugar levels.
Your body responds by asking the adrenal glands to release cortisol (your “stress hormone”). Which is an effort to get the body to find (or make) some more glucose to bring your blood sugar levels back up. It pretty much views this dramatic dip in blood sugar as an emergency.
Anytime this process happens, the HPA axis is slapped awake and told to get to work ASAP. As you can imagine, over time, the HPA axis gets a little tired of doing this job and stops working efficiently.
This sounds like me…
If you think you might be suffering from adrenal fatigue, it’s important to visit a dietitian, nutritionist or doctor to discuss a treatment plan that’s best suited for you.
But there are some things we all should be doing to stave off adrenal fatigue and heal the body from the inside out.
- Avoid a high sugar diet. The I Quit Sugar: 8-Week Program is an excellent place to start!
- Don’t skip meals if you have adrenal fatigue, are currently engaging in high intensity activity, or are going through a particularly stressful time.
- Eat a high-protein breakfast to stabilise your blood sugar throughout the day. Get more great ideas here.
- Don’t go too low carb. Focus on whole food, nutrient-dense carbohydrates (like the ones in starchy vegetables) and eat them alongside protein and fat to help with maintaining steady energy levels.
- Get 8 hours of quality sleep each night. Avoiding sources of blue-light such as computer screens, TVs and phones at least an hour before bed can be super helpful with this.
Pop any questions you have in the comments below or on social media!
Want To Know More?
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Browse through our previous episodes of “The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast” (also available on iTunes) and get the lowdown on issues of relevance for you!
You can also use the search bar below to find great previous articles, like my previous IQS guest post on Thyroid Function.
And if you’re still totally stuck, then book in to see me! I offer personalised Skype consults for anybody, anywhere.