Adrenal fatigue in women and men occurs when the body’s adrenal glands cannot cope with the demands of stress. It is a common health problem that affects millions of people worldwide. It can manifest as a range of symptoms, from fatigue and weakness to low blood pressure and mood swings. Adrenal fatigue is often misdiagnosed due to its vague symptoms, but with proper attention and management, it is treatable.
In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments of adrenal fatigue. We will also go through practical tips to manage stress and prevent adrenal exhaustion. Whether you’re struggling with adrenal fatigue or seeking more knowledge on this topic, this guide will provide you with valuable insights into this health issue.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CORTISOL AND THE ADRENAL GLANDS?
Cortisol is produced by the adrenals, and is an important hormone for managing stress levels in the body. During adrenal fatigue, the production of cortisol can become disrupted, leading to a variety of negative effects. Cortisol is necessary for the proper functioning of the body’s stress response system. When it becomes imbalanced, it can lead to fatigue, anxiety, and inflammation.
One of the most significant effects of cortisol disruption in women is its impact on testosterone and estrogen levels. Cortisol and testosterone share a relationship where increased cortisol production may reduce testosterone levels. This, in turn, can lead to decreased sex drive and issues related to fertility. Additionally, cortisol and estrogen also have a complicated relationship. An imbalance between the two can lead to issues that range from mood swings to irregular menstrual cycles.
WHY DOES ADRENAL FATIGUE AFFECT WOMEN MORE THAN MEN?
While both men and women can suffer from adrenal fatigue, the condition affects women more severely. The reason for this is the complex hormonal system that women have. Women go through monthly menstrual cycles and pregnancy, which causes a lot of physical and emotional stress on the body. Moreover, stress from work, relationships, and other aspects of life only add fuel to the fire.
When stress becomes chronic, the adrenals are unable to keep up with the cortisol demand, leading to adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue can cause a wide array of symptoms, including brain fog, insomnia, weight gain, and mood disorders. Women with adrenal fatigue may experience intense sugar cravings, which can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Women with adrenal fatigue may also face acute anxiety and depression, which can significantly affect their daily life.
In conclusion, women are not only susceptible to adrenal fatigue because of their complex hormonal systems, but also because multiple stressors they face in life. It is essential to address the condition early on to avoid long-term complications.
WHAT OTHER HORMONES DO THE ADRENALS PRODUCE?
The adrenal glands in women play a vital role in the production of sexual steroidal hormones. These hormones have a significant impact on their overall health and well-being. The three primary steroidal hormones produced by the adrenal glands are estrogen, testosterone and progesterone.
Estrogen helps to regulate the menstrual cycle, maintain bone density, and keep the skin healthy. On the other hand, testosterone assists with the creation of lean muscle mass, the maintenance of a healthy sex drive, and the production of red blood cells.
Progesterone is a hormone that is responsible for various functions in the body, including maintaining pregnancy, regulating menstrual cycles, and balancing estrogen. Adequate levels of progesterone are essential for fertility and a healthy pregnancy. In instances where there is a problem with adrenal function or progesterone production, symptoms may include menstrual irregularities, fertility issues, and changes in mood and energy levels.
With the decline in the production of estrogen and testosterone, women can experience various health issues. For instance, low levels of estrogen can cause osteoporosis, resulting in an increased risk of fractures. It can also lead to hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood swings. Similarly, a decrease in testosterone production can lead to muscle weakness, low sex drive, and fatigue. To ensure the proper functioning of adrenal hormones in women, it is essential to maintain a balanced diet, engage in regular exercise, and get adequate rest.
Additionally, stress management is vital as stress can impact the production of these hormones negatively. Several lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress levels, eating a balanced diet, and getting plenty of exercise and rest, can help reduce the risk of developing adrenal-related health issues. With the right support, women can maintain a healthy hormonal balance and improve their health and well-being.
HOW DOES MENOPAUSE AFFECT THE ADRENAL GLANDS?
Menopausal women often suffer from a wide variety of symptoms due to hormonal changes in their bodies. These changes can lead to an imbalance in the production of hormones by the adrenal glands, which can cause further health problems. Hormonal support of the adrenals is essential for menopausal women as it helps in maintaining a balanced hormonal level and combats the symptoms of menopause.
The adrenal glands are responsible for the production of adrenal hormones, including cortisol, which helps in managing stress levels in the body. During menopause, the levels of cortisol in the body can drop significantly, leading to a variety of unpleasant symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Hormonal support of the adrenals can help in regulating cortisol levels in the body, which, in turn, can alleviate the symptoms of menopause.
Apart from cortisol, the adrenal glands also produce other hormones such as DHEA, which plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density in the body. During menopause, the levels of DHEA can decrease, which can lead to a higher risk of osteoporosis. Hormonal support of the adrenals can help in keeping the levels of DHEA at a healthy level, thereby reducing the risk of bone loss and increasing bone density. Hence, Hormonal support of the adrenals is critical for menopausal women to maintain overall health and well-being.
WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO CURE ADRENAL FATIGUE IN WOMEN?
Fortunately, there are several lifestyle changes that women can make to help cure adrenal fatigue. Here are six things that women can do to cure adrenal fatigue:
Get enough sleep: Women who suffer from adrenal fatigue should make sure to get enough sleep each night. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
Manage stress levels: High levels of chronic stress can exacerbate adrenal fatigue. Women should find ways to manage their stress levels, such as through meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga.
Exercise regularly: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress levels and improve overall health. Women should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
Eat a balanced diet: A balanced diet that is rich in nutrients is essential for curing adrenal fatigue. Women should focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
Limit caffeine and sugar intake: Caffeine and sugar can disrupt hormone levels and exacerbate adrenal fatigue. Women should aim to limit their intake of these substances.
Take supplements: Some supplements, such as vitamin C, B vitamins, and magnesium, can help reduce symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Women should talk to their doctor about which supplements may be right for them.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SUPPLEMENTS FOR WOMEN TO TAKE FOR ADRENAL SUPPORT?
The following supplements are some of the best that women can take to help cure adrenal fatigue.
Ashwagandha: This herb has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which helps to manage stress and fatigue associated with adrenal fatigue. Additionally, ashwagandha has been found to improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety, both of which are common symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral that has been found to help lower cortisol levels and improve energy levels. It can also help to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and regulate blood sugar levels, all of which are important for managing adrenal fatigue.
Vitamin C: Adequate vitamin C intake is crucial for adrenal health. This vitamin is involved in the production of cortisol and can help to reduce stress levels in the body. It is also a powerful antioxidant that can help to protect the adrenal glands from damage caused by free radicals.
B-complex vitamins: B-vitamins are involved in energy production and play a critical role in adrenal function. Supplementing with a B-complex vitamin can help to improve mood, reduce fatigue, and enhance mental clarity, all of which can alleviate adrenal fatigue symptoms. By including these supplements in a healthy diet and lifestyle, women can support their adrenal health and combat the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. It is always important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.
If you want to trigger me, just say that saturated fat is unhealthy. I’m here to show you that it is not. In fact, including saturated fat in our diets is essential for maintaining an optimal biological state of well-being.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SATURATED FAT?
Saturated fat is needed for:
Mental development – the brain is made up of mostly saturated fat and cholesterol.
Bone development – saturated fats metabolise calcium.
Cardiovascular function – the lungs are coated with fatty acids that are saturated.
The nervous system – as in the brain the nervous system is largely made up of saturated fats.
Hormonal support – saturated fats are the building blocks to making hormones such as testosterone, oestrogen, cortisol, etc.
According to the independent study, A Critical Review of Cardio Disease by Dr Walter Willet from Harvard School of Public Health, we can see that saturated fat is not linked to heart disease and protects against strokes. Daily nut consumption is associated with a 35% decrease in the risk of heart attacks. Consuming full fat dairy is associated with a 60% reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes, lowers high density cholesterol, triglyceride levels and inflammation markers. People that eat egg yolks can reduce the chance of becoming diabetic by 42%. I highly recommend reading Dr Willett’s book, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating if you want to gain more of an understanding of his research.
WHY IS SATURATED FAT SEEN AS UNHEALTHY?
You should never trust the science. Question it always. Lessons learned during the recent COVID pandemic have proven why this approach is most important. The same goes for the scientific understanding of saturated fat.
To understand the history, we must go back to the 1920s to spend time with Dr Charles Best & Dr Frederick Banting, two scientists who earned a Nobel Peace Prize for purifying insulin, making it available for pharmaceutical use. They also made some other interesting discoveries.
Drs Best & Banting were the first scientists to discover an accumulation of fat in and around the organs in diabetics. This discovery lead them to believe that dietary fat was the cause of type 2 diabetes. The development of the infamous food pyramid that was pushed onto the public was a direct result of this. It could be fair to say that certain powerful food corporations were able capitalise on these studies, but that’s a different conversation altogether!
Fortunately, technology has advanced a lot since the 1920s. The science that was missing from their research was the role of the liver. The liver plays a key role in fat metabolism. It is now known that the liver converts sugars into fat to be stored, either as subcutaneous – on the outside of the body – or visceral fat – in and around the organs. In fact, to put it quite simply, body fat is nothing more than stored sugar. Once there is no more room for it to be stored in the liver, the body is forced to store fat in the pancreas. When this happens, a person loses the ability to create insulin on their own. Welcome to type 2 diabetes.
Since the recommendation of ‘low fat’ diets by the bodies that govern food & drugs, we have noticed a 400%+ increase in heart disease, diabetes & obesity. Until the public is completely re-educated about nutrition this problem isn’t going to get better.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SATURATED FATS?
Palmitic acid is often considered an unhealthy saturated fat because people often associate it with palm oil, but you will find that the acid (not the oil product) is already a part of our biological make up. Here are the different types of saturated fatty acids and their benefits:
Caprylic acid – found in coconut oil, dairy, breast milk, nuts. Great for the immune system, acne, and is anti-viral.
Lauric acid – found in coconut oil, breast milk. Needed for the immune system and is anti-viral.
Palmitic acid – abundant in fish, nuts, seeds, animal products. 50% of cell membrane is made up palmitic acid.
Butyric acid – found in butter and vegetable sources. This is the main fatty acid that feeds cells in the colon.
WHICH FATS SHOULD I AVOID?
We can put lipids (fats) into three categories – saturated, unsaturated and trans.
Unsaturated fats – EPAs & DHAs – are the omegas. These often get promoted as ‘healthy fats’, but you should now understand that saturated fat is just as important.
Trans fats increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems. They are found in hydrogenated foods. This is when a hydrogen atom is introduced to an oil to solidify it, preventing it from going rank. Margarine often disguised as ‘spreadable butter’ is a form of trans fat. Trans fats can also be found in fast food, microwave meals and other processed foods. We should avoid these fats at all costs.
The rule that I follow says, if you can dig it from the ground, pick it from a tree or plant, or slaughter it and it’s still in its unaltered state then it is OK to eat. The most important part of that statement is that it is still in its unaltered state. Meaning unrefined and unprocessed.
Study comparing consumption of Saturated Fats vs Unsaturated Fats:
http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i1246 Astrup, A., Dyerberg, J., Elwood, P., Hermansen, K., Hu, F.B., Jakobsen, M.U., …Willett, W.C. (2011). The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: Where does the evidence stand in 2010? [PDF]. Am J Clin Nutr, 93(4): 684–8. doi: 10.3945/ ajcn.110.004622
Before reading any further it should be known that I am not writing this article with the intention of bashing vegans. This is all about spreading awareness, because knowledge is power. As long as it is healthy and gets you results, I will support whichever diet you choose to follow. Therefore my nutritional advice will always remain unbiased and supportive.
Because of unreliable farming sources, overpopulation, mismanagement of the environment, and corporate greed, veganism is justifiably on the rise. Millions of people worldwide are taking to the streets to protest in attempts to save the planet from human destruction. Hardcore vegans seem to be at the forefront of the battle.
Watching the Amazon go up in flames, or the islands of plastic waste floating in the oceans, I don’t think that any of us can argue that something drastic needs to be done. We can all find ways to play a part in helping to save our home, so if you decide that veganism is your best weapon then I am here to guide you through it in a realistic manner.
HAS VEGANISM PLAYED A PART IN HUMAN EVOLUTION?
The practice of vegetarianism can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization in 3300-1300 BC to Indian philosophers and emperors, and also to Greek and Roman philosophers throughout history. Through historical documentation, we know that veganism was practiced by an Arab poet named al-Ma’arri in 973-1057, and then later showed its face in the form of a movement in 19th century Europe and America as a holistic treatment for a wide range of infections and viruses, such as tuberculosis and acne.
However there has never been a period in human history where large populations of people have survived on a vegan diet for a considerable period of time. Therefore veganism hasn’t ever played a part in human evolution. It has not had an effect on our actual homo sapien DNA. Human beings have always identified with three main types of diets throughout our existence – hunter/gatherers, cultivators and nomads.
Hunter/gatherers were the earliest. Their diet was made up of animal meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and nuts. Cultivators were the first to farm, and over time their stomach acid levels dropped considerably low due to the lack of meat in their diets. Still, they also ate fish and, occasionally, poultry. The nomadic groups ate a universal diet consisting of meat, veg and carbs. But because of their nomadic lifestyle, these food groups would rarely have been available at the same time. Because of this, people who identify with them may have trouble eating protein and carbohydrates in the same sittings.
Fact – the vegan diet is not ideal for human beings, but that doesn’t mean that it is useless. Veganism works wonders for detoxification of the body. It can help reverse type 2 diabetes by ridding the body of stored glucose (sugar) and fat that builds up in the cells and organs. Studies have shown a correlation between the reductions of cancerous cells alongside other treatments such as THC oil. If you are looking for a complete reset of the body on a cellular level then veganism is the way to go. But you will definitely experience some problems within a year or two due to the deficiencies caused by a vegan diet.
IS PLANT PROTEIN BETTER THAN ANIMAL PROTEIN?
One of the characteristics that make us human is our ability to find and implement nutrient dense foods into our diets. This has been a major factor in human evolution. Cooking food makes a substantial amount of nutrients more bioavailable and this includes meat. In fact, mainstream science is debating the fact that cooking meat could have played a huge role in the development of the human brain thousands of years ago, giving us the specific types of proteins needed for them to grow into what they are today. This idea is currently theoretical but has interesting arguments on both sides.
Human beings are omnivores. Omnivores are opportunistic when it comes to food, which makes them more likely to overcome times of drought and famine. You can just look at other mammals such as cows and gorillas to see how many leaves and how much grass they have to eat in order to get enough nutrients. They basically spend their entire lives grazing for food. Making nutrients more bioavailable and finding food sources that are denser in minerals and nutrients gives us more time to build homes, farm, build space ships, figure out the meaning of life, and do things that make us human. If you are interested in learning more about these discoveries I recommend reading a book called Catching Fire by Richard Wangham, which is a good starting point.
As long as you’re getting enough protein from your diet, where you choose to get it from is not so important to me. Just know that women need one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight, and men need one and a half grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
The deficiencies that you need to be concerned with are to come. After giving a bit of scientific information about each of the shortcomings I will end each section with my recommended supplement in order to support each.
WHAT ARE THE DEFICIENCIES CAUSED BY A VEGAN DIET?
EPAs & DHAs
Plants are amazing life forms. Through a process called phytovolatilization they absorb metals, such as iron, copper, zinc, etc. (all needed by the body in small amounts) from the soil and transform them into molecular structures that our bodies can effectively absorb.
Animals are not able absorb metals from the earth on their own. However there are lots of things that animals can do for us that plants cannot. A perfect example of this is EPAs & DHAs (healthy omega fats found in fish). If you are under the outdated impression that dietary fat equals body fat then I recommend researching into that subject in order to break out of that psyche. It is the liver that controls fat storage by converting sugar (and sometimes amino acids) into body fat, not dietary fat. In fact, dietary fat gets absorbed directly into the blood by chylomicrons instead of passing through the liver. If you are looking to stick to a healthy diet then it should consist of 40% dietary fats per day. The only fat you need to avoid is trans-fat, which is found in fast food, margarine, and microwave foods.
Deficiencies in healthy omega fats can result in skin problems, dry eyes, irritability, mood swings, fatigue, sleeping problems, achy joints (… the list goes on). Long term symptoms include neurological disorders, depression, psychosis and cardiovascular diseases.
SUPPLEMENTING EPAs & DHAs
You can get EPA & DHAs in the form of alpha linolenic acid from plant sources such as walnuts and flaxseed, but it will have to undergo a conversion process in the body. Humans are only able to convert 5-10% alpha linolenic acid into a form of fat that the body can use, so if you are relying on plant sources you will never get enough. I should mention that there are also several other nutrients needed to make this conversion possible (many of them not found in vegan diets). You can take microalgae in supplement form, which bypasses the conversion process, but you will need to take it in very high doses (6-9 caps per day).
K2 is a newly discovered nutrient that is important for cardiovascular health and is scarce in the vegan diet. Its main job is to push calcium into our bones, teeth and hearts, keeping it out of the soft tissues and arteries. A buildup of calcium can harden your arteries and increase the risk of a heart attack. Other symptoms include easy bruising and bleeding, diabetes, memory loss, an unusual amount of cavities in your mouth, and autoimmune diseases. Deficiency in vitamin k2 has also been linked to low levels of testosterone, which can affect muscle and bone health, as well as sexual performance and libido in men and women.
SUPPLEMENTING VITAMIN K2
Vitamin k2 is not to be confused with vitamin k1. They are completely different – so different in fact, that some scientists believe that they should be classed separately as not to confuse the two. Vitamin k2 can only be found in animal meat and fermented foods. Kefir and sauerkraut are good sources, but you can also find it in supplement form that is usually sold in combination with vitamin D.
There seems to be a myth going around the vegan world that you can get this valuable nutrient from seaweed, spirulina and nutritional yeast. This is totally false. The b12 found in those sources is actually a fake form of b12 that blocks the absorption of the real thing. Chances are that if you’ve been relying on those sources you are far beyond deficient already. Vitamin b12 only comes from animal sources and is not available in the vegan diet.
It is needed by the body in order to produce red blood cells and make DNA. Not getting enough can result in anaemia, Crohn’s disease, immune system disorders (such as lupus and Graves’ disease), parasites and gastritis.
SUPPLEMENTING VITAMIN B12
Even though most are already trying to supplement this vital nutrient, 83% of vegans and 68% of vegetarians are deficient in b12, compared to only 5% of omnivores. If you are a vegetarian, I would consider adding mollusks to your diet (i.e. – cockles, mussels, oysters, clams, etc.). Just one serving will be enough to meet your weekly nutritional needs for vitamin b12, which seems like a small sacrifice to make for your health.
You can find vitamin b12 available in four supplement forms – hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin, cyanocobalamin & adenosylcobalamin. Cyanocobalamin is the synthetic form of b12. The others are found naturally in food, which means they come from animal sources. In case you’re wondering, Mother Nature beats the laboratory every time.
Zinc is a very important mineral when it comes to homeostasis. Low levels of zinc can have an effect on your entire endocrine (hormonal) system – thyroid, pineal, ovarian, thymus, and testicular glands- the lot. It can cause an excessive amount of testosterone conversion into estradiol – chemical estrogen – leading to a list of different types of cancers. Zinc deficiency can affect your sexual health, alter your taste, cause eczema and allergies, and lead to ovarian cysts, or gynecomastia (“man boobs”).
You can find this precious metal in a vegan diet from beans, legumes and whole grains, but not without consequence. All of the plant sources also contain phytic acid, which stops the absorption of zinc in the body. Soaking or sprouting grains overnight will reduce the phytic acid, but you can never completely eliminate it. Unfortunately, in this case, animal sources trump plants.
Your best bet is to find a vegan based zinc supplement. It puts the phytic acid out of the equation, so that you can absorb the zinc without any problems. 25mg per day will suffice.
After reading all of that, it should be easy to understand why I recommend eating a variety of organic foods. If you can get by with eating a small amount of fish, or molluscs, your long term health will definitely thank you. Supplements can help fill the gap in the vegan diet, but as always, Mother Nature wins every time.
For further help finding out what diet is best for you based on your genetic profile please book a free consultation here:
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vegan diets: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25369925/
The future for long chain n-3 PUFA in the prevention of coronary heart disease: do we need to target non-fish eaters?:
Zinc has a lot to do with hormone production. Mainly, it is responsible for quickly releasing testosterone, producing natural GH and increases protein synthesis especially through IGF-1 (insulin growth-like factor 1). 2) Supports male & female fertility
In males, zinc supports the prostate, which can eventually become a problem for men, by helping to produce enough testosterone to keep it working properly. In women it supports healthy egg production and keeps excess oestrogen (that will increase body fat storage) in check.
3) Increase immunity
Zinc increases T cell production. T cells fight off dangerous bacteria, viruses, etc.
4) Natural antioxidant
Zinc counters the effects of high iron levels and fights off free radicals, which do damage to the cells of the body.
5) Increase in cardio health
Helps to maintain healthy endothelium (cells that line the blood vessels) which have a lot to do with circulation. Adequate levels of will help prevent unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Many more benefits exist.
For best results take at least 50mg of zinc per day and, yes, ignore the bullshit recommendation of 15mg per day.