Would you recognize causes of Adrenal Fatigue?
Causes of adrenal fatigue are everywhere in your daily life, from the food you eat, the liquids you drink, to how much exercise you get and how hard you work. There are typically two adrenal glands in your body; one on top of each kidney. These endocrine organs are essential to the health of your whole body, including your stress response, functions in the heart, kidneys and reproductive organs, and much more. Once you learn how adrenal fatigue develops, you have more power to minimize damage to these valuable organs and recover.
6 main causes of adrenal fatigue
- physical and emotional stress
- nutritional deficiencies
- environmental toxins
- chronic infections
- stimulants or excessive exercise
- toxic emotions
Excessive stress can be from many sources. Chemical toxicity and nutritional depletion are among the physical causes. Mental, emotional or spiritual stressors may be major factors too. Financial, family or other stress may also contribute to burnout. Even infections can wear you down. As you can see, the causes of adrenal fatigue are numerous. When left unchecked, long term, healthy adrenals can burn out leaving you overwhelmed with energy loss and illness.
1. PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL STRESS
Any excessive stress, especially when long term, can be causes of adrenal fatigue. Excessive workload, long hours, lack of sleep, or emotional stresses are common. Other stressors are noise and electromagnetic pollution, electromagnetic field exposure from cell phones, cell towers and appliances like televisions, cell phones, wearable electronics, microwave ovens and computers, can also be hard on our bodies.
2. NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES
Many people today have subclinical deficiencies of essential nutrients, such as B vitamins, Vitamins A, C, D and E, magnesium, zinc, and other trace elements. When under major stress, the need for nutrients is even greater as your body will use them up more quickly to keep itself running. When this happens, the adrenals may eventually become more depleted than they can easily recover from and lead to adrenal fatigue.
Refined carbohydrates and diets low in protein can also stress the adrenals. The standard Canadian diet is high in processed carbs and sugar, lower in quality fats and protein, and typically lacks important micronutrients. The reasons for this is because most food is grown on nutrient depleted soils. Processing and refining further deplete nutrients in those foods. Much of our food sources are extremely stressed themselves and you take in the results of that stress.
Adequate and quality water is also an issue as water affects oxygenation and hydration of the tissues in the body.
Additionally, habits such as eating in the car or while on the run further diminish the value derived from food and particularly inhibit our ability to digest it.
Allergic reactions to foods such as wheat, dairy, corn and soy products can damage the intestines and reduce the absorption of nutrients as well.
3. ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS
Toxic chemicals often play a significant role in adrenal burnout. Everyone is exposed to thousands of chemicals in the air, the water and the food. Sources may also include dental materials or beauty products, such as shampoo, lotions, make-up and tooth paste. Cleaning our homes with toxic chemicals obviously can impact health. Over-the-counter and prescribed medications also add to the body’s toxic load.
Toxins can also be generated internally due to microbial imbalances in the gut and impaired digestion. When food is not properly digested, it may ferment in the intestines, producing many harmful substances that are absorbed through the intestinal lining.
A healthy body has the ability to eliminate many toxins on a daily basis. However, as adrenal weakness develops, the body’s ability to eliminate all toxins decreases. This produces a vicious cycle in which as your adrenals weaken, the elimination of all toxins becomes more and more impaired, and the less toxins are removed, the further your adrenals weaken.
4. CHRONIC INFECTIONS
Chronic infections can be present anywhere in the body, but often can originate in infected teeth or gums. They contribute greatly to the overall toxic load of the body. Infections also cause inflammation and stress that must be countered using the adrenal hormones, cortisol and cortisone.
One of the most commonly overlooked causes of adrenal fatigue is intestinal infections that gives rise to an inflammatory response. Such infections can occur sub-clinically showing no obvious signs at all or can cause digestive discomfort. Infections in the gut, including giardia, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), fungal dysbiosis, and Helicobactor pylori bacterial infection are just a few examples that may contribute to worsening adrenal dysfunction.
5. STIMULANTS OR EXCESSIVE EXERCISE
Stimulants, such as caffeine, sugar and alcohol, damage the adrenal glands by over-promoting the secretion of stress hormones and adrenaline which over time will lead to the depletion of these essential neurotransmitters.
Less obvious, yet important stimulants, can include anger, rage, arguments, hatred, lack of forgiveness, loud music, tragic news, and even movies with extreme suspense or excessive violence.
Other activities that may act as stimulants include vigorous exercise or recreational drug use. Even high risk sports, like surfing, diving, or extreme climbing if done in excess may deplete the adrenals. Most of these activities provide a temporary “high”, which is caused in part by the secretion of high amounts of adrenal hormones. Over time, however, this weakens the adrenals and can eventually lead to adrenal depletion and insufficiency if little is done to reduce the risk.
6. TOXIC EMOTIONS
Uncontrolled emotions are another cause of adrenal fatigue. These include habits of worrying, or becoming angry or afraid. This applies particularly to high strung, Type A, nervous people as they are especially prone to adrenal burnout. Prayer and meditation release calming neurotransmitters and take the body from a state of fight and flight into the parasympathetic mode of relaxation and can be extremely helpful in healing adrenal fatigue. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude and your adrenals will thank you.
Summary of stressors that can lead to Adrenal Fatigue:
- Habitual emotions, like anger, fear, guilt
- Chronic illness
- Chronic infections
- Chronic pain
- Eating disorders
- Excessive exercise
- Gluten intolerance and other food issues
- Malabsorption and poor digestion
- Toxic exposure
- Severe or chronic stress that are hard to manage
- Long term sleep deprivation
- Excessive sugar in diet
- Excessive caffeine intake
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Processed foods, additives, chemicals and genetically modified ingredients, like corn, soy, canola.
- Infected teeth, gums or root canal
Chronic stress is very common. The most common causes of stress are work pressure, changing jobs, death of a loved one, moving homes, illness, and marital changes. For short bursts, most of us can handle these stresses and recover with a little time and care. However, adrenal fatigue occurs when the amount of stress overextends the capacity of the body to compensate and recover.