Stress and adrenal fatigue and burnout

rbs1_22Recently, I’ve been hearing more and more patients complain about high levels of fatigue. As a Functional Medicine practitioner, I need to know the stress factors that can be contributing to this. Our Adrenal glands act as a buffer to stress, and along with our Thyroid gland, help regulate our energy levels. The Adrenals do not differentiate between types of stress, rather they regulate the chemical reactions that occur whenever the body is “under stress.”

Many Patients do not realize how much stress they are under normally, and that additional stress can push your body’s normal level of functioning into overload. The types of stress that are common for most people include relationship stress (parents, spouses, co-workers), financial worries, health concerns, children, physical injuries, overextending oneself to take care of family members, menstruation, poor dietary habits, etc. Additionally, a lack of sleep, or having irregular sleep, indicates high levels of stress in an individual.

Adrenal exhaustion, or Adrenal burnout, is one of the symptoms of this type of stress. While it is not the only source of fatigue, it can be an important one. The Adrenal glands make hormones, including cortisol, which helps your body deal with stress and inflammation. However, there are other conditions that can affect your energy levels besides your adrenal glands; it is important to find out what is causing your lack of energy and fatigue. In some cases, an unhealthy lifestyle can contribute to lack of energy. It’s important to eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean meats, while avoiding processed and refined foods, as well as junk food. It is also important to exercise regularly. Diet, along with a comprehensive digestive enzyme formula, as well as a quality multi-vitamin formula helps correct hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia leaves many people feeling sluggish, lethargic, and tired in-between meals. Likewise, both enzymes and a comprehensive multivitamin formula containing certain minerals and other nutrients such as Alpha-lipoic acid help correct ‘insulin resistance’ which results when we can’t get sugars into our cells, leaving us tired quickly following a meal.

It is also a good idea to have your doctor order a CBC, to check for abnormalities in your blood and also check hormone levels. A low-functioning thyroid gland is a very common cause of fatigue in the US.

Testing for Adrenal Fatigue
The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys, and together they produce several classes of molecules. Two of them that relate to fatigue are cortisol and DHEA. Together, these hormones regulate: blood sugar levels, energy levels, sleep rhythms, blood pressure and heart rate, and inflammation levels in the body.

When someone is under acute stress, adrenal gland hormone levels rise to help the individual cope with the stressor. Essentially, these hormones prep the body for “flight or fight” responses. However, if the levels remain elevated over a long period of time, or there is a major stressor such as death or loss, they can eventually drop even lower and initiate fatigue, and lead to chronic fatigue. In addition, these hormones levels can drop excessively due to lack of exercise, poor diet, and toxins in the environment. One way adrenal fatigue can be definitively diagnosed is with an Adrenal Salivary Index (ASI) lab test.

Is your home or office creating chemical stress in your body?
Assessing our indoor environments for stressors is also important. Looking at your daily exposure of toxic chemicals, pesticides, and EMFs is important. For those who have never heard the term EMF’s before, EMF’s are Electromagnetic Frequencies that permeate our environment, as a form of non-ionizing radiation. They silently and unseen, pass through our homes, body and are a part of our lives.

At its most basic source, EMFs were mostly prevalent in household and building wiring at the 60Hz level. Fast forward to 2014, and we now live in a world where it is virtually impossible to avoid EMFs: satellites that feed information to a variety of users (including weather, your entertainment media, etc). That EMF emitting hair dryer that so many people used to be concerned about, now pales in comparison with the length and type of exposure. Nowadays, most people are bathed in EMFs 24/7, whether it be from radar, security systems, that intelligent office building that knows where you are at all times, and just walking through the door of most retail establishments. EMF’s are within a wide range of the invisible light spectrum, but because they are in the light spectrum, their constant presence can disrupt your hormones in the same way that never sleeping can.

Early research in the areas of EMFs indicate that these frequencies create stress for our cells, glands, organs, and can contribute to premature aging and help create immune system challenges such as low immunity and auto-immunity, and also contribute to anomalous pain based illnesses such as Fibromyalgia. In 2012, the NCBI reported that “studies on other common sources of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) such as mobile base stations have shown alterations in the cortisol level following exposure of humans to these sources.” As noted earlier, at one time, the primary exposure from EMFs was generally from electrical substations, power lines and indoor wiring. Nowadays, with Wifi routers being in nearly every apartment and home, EMF’s bathe us 24/7.

Determining your body’s energy production
In addition to a thyroid panel and an Adrenal Salivary Index, we prefer using the TRIAD Blood Spot by Genova Diagnostics to determine energy production in the body. This test not only detects factors that can rob us of our energy, such as food allergies, leaky gut, and hidden parasitic infections such as ‘bad’ bacterial and fungal overgrowth, but also measures how well our cells are producing energy. We also work with our patients to help them eliminate poor food choices, and show them how to make better food choices that work with their body’s metabolism.

When it comes to supplementation, besides the few that we have already mentioned in association with blood sugar, we also use specific formulas that target Thyroid and Adrenal performance. For an assessment of your energy levels, contact us at 512 299-1223.

Being tired does not have to be a part of aging

Businessman asleep at his desk on white backgroundAre you constantly tired and notice that you don’t have the energy levels that you did when you were younger? Do you experience fatigue after eating meals and find yourself often drinking coffee or tea, and or having a candy bar of sugary snack during the day as a quick “pick-me-up?”

Many Americans suffer from daily drowsiness resulting from “adrenal burnout.” Adrenal Burnout makes life harder because our body has to work very hard just to find enough energy to go through life. This includes basic activities like driving a car, work related activities, sex, trying to get a good night’s sleep, and all of this can even cause you to miss family events and leisure time activities (according to the National Sleep Foundation).

Fatigue can be caused by many health related issues. One of the most common causes of fatigue is inflammation and pain. If you have been feeling fatigued on a consistent basis, please make an appointment to our Functional Medicine practice. We are trained to look at all of your body systems, in order to best ascertain why you have low energy levels. This includes your environment, work, home, and lifestyle, as well as your physical issues.

Nutrients that can help you maintain your energy levels:

Co-Enzyme Q10, or Ubiquinone
Co-Q10 is responsible for pumping up the mitochondria in your cells. Mitochondria are considered the “powerhouses” of your cells and regulate cellular respiration, which helps your cells run optimally, which is a requirement for you to feel energized. Co-Q10 is also helpful in liver function as well as maintaining a healthy heart and kidneys, and is known for helping to lower blood pressure.

Several B Vitamins are required by your liver, adrenal glands, brain tissue, nervous system, heart, and many other areas of the body. Vitamins B1 (Thiamine), B3 (Riboflavin), B6 (Pyroxidine), B12 (Cobalamin), Biotin, and Folic Acid are also critical B Vitamins necessary for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. B-Vitamins are also lost in greater amounts if we drink coffee with our vitamins, because they can inhibit their absorption. Many Americans have Vitamin B deficiencies, and in many cases their medication may be a contributing factor. Another reason for vitamin deficiency is that people are taking vitamins that are not bio-available, so the body cannot really absorb and utilize them.

Many of us have rapidly depleted our digestive enzymes required to break down and utilize our nutrients. According to Nobel Prize Enzymologist Ronald K Schneider, we lose approximately 10% of our digestive enzyme producing capacity per decade, after puberty. For example, if puberty ends in a person at the age of 20, by the time they are 60 years old, they will have 40% less enzyme producing capacity then when they were 20 years old. Enzymes are required to break down and assimilate your nutrients. Without nutrients, our cells have no fuel to carry out their duties.

There are many things that “rob” us of our energy:

Insufficient Sleep
Many Americans lack sufficient sleep today, either because they do not allot enough time for sleep, or because they cannot sleep soundly through the night. Without sufficient sleep, our body cannot perform the deep healing and recuperation necessary to carry out the next day’s activities. Usually sleep issues relate to thyroid and adrenal gland issues that are brought on by inadequate diet and system toxicity.

Another overlooked area for not getting good sleep is when you have too many EMF generating electronics in the bedroom. EMFs, or Electromagnetic fields, are a part of the invisible light spectrum. Having light waves bathe you while you sleep may contribute to your body’s ability to produce melatonin, which is a major hormone in the body and affects many major functions, including the immune system.

Low grade and hidden infections can make us feel tired
Many Americans are suffering from low grade infections, many of which can remain “hidden” from traditional lab tests and can slip by undetected. Parasitic Bacteria, fungal infections, Candida Albicans Yeast infection, Lymes, Herpes Simplex I and II, Shingles are several examples of infections that go undetected in the body for a long time. We use functional lab tests, which do a better job of detecting these infections before they fully manifest. (true?)

The Thyroid Gland is considered a very important gland when it comes to energy management in the body. When operating normally, our body temperature operates at an ideal range so that our body’s cells can function in an optimal manner, so we can feel optimal. When our body temperature gets too low, our cell function begins to slow and we can feel tired.

Adrenal Fatigue
Most Americans have “adrenal burnout” because our fast paced lifestyle and inadequate diet are major contributors to adrenal insufficiency. Often people find it easier to opt for a quick fix, by reaching for poor quality, and high sugar energy drinks in an attempt to ward off fatigue.

Our Adrenal glands produce many hormones and chemicals provide bursts of energy that help us live well despite having stress. The real adrenal energy that your body needs is not in an energy drink can or bottle; these beverages can end up draining our adrenal glands more rapidly. This is because they fail to replace nutrients that our adrenals need to function. The best way to detect adrenal insufficiency is with an Adrenal Salivary Index (ASI).

Alcohol robs us of our energy by disrupting normal R.E.M deep sleep patterns. Many people drink alcohol before going to sleep, because it provides a temporary feeling of relaxation and they fall asleep more easily. Alcohol does not help us maintain the deep sleep patterns necessary to feel energized the next day. Web MD summarized 27 studies showing us how alcohol and quality sleep don’t mix!

Electro Magnetic Frequencies (EMFs)
Besides the EMF issues that can impact our levels of Melatonin production, our bodies are constantly being stressed by being bathed in these man made frequencies, 24/7. Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are both analog and digital. Man made EMFs first interacted with humans when motors and other electric devices became a part of our quality of life. By 2013 we now also have a swathe of digital EMF waveforms that our human, analog body interacts with. Virtually every electronic item we live with and use is emitting EMFs. Dr Robert O. Becker, MD had done much research on the negative bio-effects of EMFs on the human body. These EMFs affect subtle areas of our brain, such as the pineal gland, which can disrupt healthy sleep needed to feel energized the next day.

To learn how you can achieve more restful sleep, contact us today!