If you find yourself overly tired and sleepy throughout the day, you could be experiencing adrenal fatigue. Here's how to know for sure.
While some would debate that adrenal fatigue isn't a real condition, more and more parents are attributing it with their extreme tiredness and listlessness. Being tired all the time is a universal parenting syndrome, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't be on the lookout for potential conditions that could damage our health.
The term adrenal fatigue traces its roots to alternative medicine. Back in the 1990s, it was defined as a syndrome that is the result of poorly functioning adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands are organs in our endocrine system, which are responsible for producing hormones that regulate blood sugar, fat and protein metabolism as well as regulating blood pressure. The adrenal glands are also responsible for reacting to stressors, like in the case of illness or injury.
Contrary to popular belief, these glands don't get "exhausted," but the concept of adrenal fatigue is true to some extent because persistent stress can cause them to underproduce the aforementioned hormones.
The term adrenal fatigue may be inaccurate, but it is a real condition that affects many parents
There is another rare condition that can be caused by the underproduction of cortisol and it's known as Addison's disease, it's a rare condition that afflicts four in every 100,000 people in the United States. It's important to know that adrenal fatigue isn't an accurate term and it's important for those suffering from extreme tiredness to consult their doctor, as this could also be caused by thyroid dysfunction or iron deficiency, which is a common concern of new moms.
To avoid these types of conditions, new parents need to make sure they maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. It's important to keep blood sugar levels at a normal level. Sleep deprivation should be avoided as much as possible, which is obviously a challenge for new parents.
"Parents, especially, are rundown, so they’re trying to regenerate by drinking more coffee and consuming more sugar," says holistic nutritionist Joy McCarthy. "But those foods treat your adrenals like a punching bag."
Try upping your intake of fruit, vegetables, and replace coffee with green tea, which also has theanine, a relaxing amino acid.
"When the body is being hit with stress it creates more free radicals, which damage cells. So eating things like apples, red peppers and kale—anything that’s richly coloured is a sign of lots of antioxidants—is going to protect the body," she recommends, adding that you should also identify what stressors could be causing you fatigue--like ineffecient stress management or a lack of support system--and making changes accordingly.