Adrenal fatigue can have numerous effects on our bodies. This section is all about the effects adrenal fatigue has on your energy (or lack there of), along with some possible solutions.

Stress Tanks Energy

Although many of us drink more and more coffee to help with energy levels, a caffeine deficiency surely isn’t the real cause of fatigue. At best, caffeine is a Band-Aid; at worst, it’s a stressor on our already-fatigued adrenal glands.

As adrenal fatigue progresses, the glands become too depleted to keep up with the body’s need for the hormone cortisol and the neurotransmitters adrenaline (also called epinephrine) and noradrenaline (also called norepinephrine). Deficiencies of these powerful molecules can make us feel like we’re dragging through the day, with the unfortunate exception of a “second wind” in the late evening, right when we should be heading to bed.

The role of nutrition on adrenal health cannot be understated, as the adrenal glands and the entire hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis depend on optimized nutritional status to function. Minimizing stress and removing major stressors is also important for minimizing one of the root causes of adrenal fatigue. Lifestyle changes are also important in helping us cope with the stress that we do have.

If your day is planned around your next shot of caffeine, you’re not alone. Millions of people depend on caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants for an energy boost. There’s a big difference, however, between drinking the occasional cappuccino and consuming stimulants throughout the day to get by. As any coffeeholic can tell you, we tend to build up a tolerance to stimulants over time, requiring higher and higher doses to get the same effect. As chronic stress pulls on the endocrine system, furthermore, it takes more coffee and more sugar to break through the fatigue. The more stressed and tired you feel, in other words, the more stimulants you need to get by. These stimulants, however, interfere with sleep quality. This vicious cycle accelerates not only fatigue but also worsens hormonal imbalances.

Thankfully, we can step off the caffeine/fatigue roller coaster. Becoming mindful of your consumption of stimulants is the first step and this awareness alone may help you reduce your intake of them. Start by limiting yourself to two coffees (or stimulant treats) per day, and then taper it down from there. Eating a nutrient-dense, low-glycemic diet and improving sleep hygiene practices can also help curb stimulant cravings. Working “smarter, not harder” and improving your work efficiency can also create openings in the day for you to take breaks when you need them.


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