According to endocrinologists, there are 4 stages of adrenal fatigue and each are characterized by a hormone profile measured through the blood.
The second stage is known as the “Continual Alarm Phase”, in which the stressor is around for a longer period of time and the demand for stress hormone is sustained. At this time, blood work would likely show a higher level of cortisol, but a declining level of DHEA and testosterone. All resources are shifted towards making cortisol, which means the production of sex hormones become less of a priority. Someone in this stage of adrenal health may notice they are very focused and alert during the day, but as soon as they are finished work or a difficult task, they crash and can barely function the rest of the day. These people are often “tired but wired” and struggle through the rest of the day, or turn to energy drinks for support.
The fourth and final stage of fatigue is known as the “Burnout” phase. We often throw this word around when discussing students writing exams, individuals going through divorce, or parents with young children. However, blood work at this time will show a whole different level of burnout, which includes very low levels of all hormones produced by the adrenal glands. This includes cortisol levels, adrenaline, testosterone, DHEA and aldosterone. At this point, the body has run out of resources, can no longer meet the demands placed on it, and has begun to crash. Depression, anxiety, irritability, weight loss, apathy, absent sex drive, poor sleep, and frequent infections plague a burned out individual in ways so severe that they are nearly nonfunctional. Needless to say, this stage should be fairly obvious to the individual, but even then people struggle to step back from their day to day lives and recover.
As with all chronic conditions, the Burnout Phase is not cured overnight and can take months of dedicated treatment, paired with permanent lifestyle changes to see a full recovery. Burnout is a very real phenomenon and is not to be taken lightly. If you or someone you know is on the road to fatigue, please consult a Naturopathic Doctor for the best diet, herbal and lifestyle support for your adrenal glands.
WHAT DOES A BALANCED LIFE LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
How to make the most of your time and do the things you love
Most people say that finding ‘balance’ includes finding more time for exercise and sleep. Indeed, it is a very individual thing to find that delicate equilibrium that allows you to feel fulfilled in all areas of your life. Do you have a goal in mind for yourself? Perhaps you have signed up for a new fitness class or want to run a 10k. Perhaps your goal is to get to bed 1 hour earlier every night or spend 15 extra minutes with your kids before their bedtime. No matter what your goal, you have to schedule time for this new endeavor and make it a priority if you would like to achieve success.
As a holistic practitioner, I believe that true whole-body balance also exists:
Are you married? How many kids do you have? What hours do you work?
These are all variables in your life that influence the way you can achieve balance, and the more variables you have, the more efficient you have to be with your time. Take some time to think about these variables and determine how large of a role they play in your life:
1. Roles: Write down or make a mental list of all the words that can be used to describe you. What are all the different roles you have to play in your life? Some words might include: mother, daughter, teacher, friend, athlete, employee, manager, chef, etc.
2. Prioritize: Take all the words you wrote down in the “roles” section and put them in order from most to least important. Of course, some roles are more involved than others so you must take into account the things you have to do as well as the things you want to do for yourself.
3. Manage your time: Take things one day at a time and set small goals for your self on a daily or weekly basis. If you feel that your friendships are an area that needs improvement, your goal for the week could be calling a friend and chatting for 5 minutes on your lunch break, or inviting a friend to go for a walk on the weekend. Most of us will have many roles that will all be fighting for top priority, so don’t push yourself to accomplish things beyond your goals for the week. Adding too much to your plate will make your day hectic, causing you to work less efficiently and burnout sooner.
4. Plan ahead. Set things up today to make tomorrow easier. Prepare your lunch, get your gym bag ready, throw your walking shoes in your car for your lunch break, etc. It may seem like a chore the night before, but it is worth going to sleep 5 minutes later if it means you leave on time the next morning and make it to work feeling grounded and prepared. Planning is often the most important variable when it comes to the success of any diet, exercise or healthy living plan. If you plan ahead, you are less likely to reach for things that are not conducive to your diet. If you bring snacks to eat before your workout, you won’t need to stop at home before you go to the gym to get something to eat. You will be much more successful in sticking to your routine if you are able to identify and eliminate all the excuses you give yourself for avoiding a task.
5. Be patient with yourself: If your life up until this point hasn’t been any indication, every day will throw different challenges at you, and some days will be near impossible to stay on schedule. This is why it is important to be realistic with your goals for the day and build some flexibility into your plan. Don’t feel discouraged if things don’t go according to plan or when you can’t finish all your tasks for the day. Just sit back, take a deep breath and reorganize your schedule for tomorrow. Be patient with yourself!
This weekend's ice storm left most of us housebound, which for some was a blessing, but for others made for a restless few days. There's only so much Netflix one can watch, and even then, what do you eat when you couldn't make it to the grocery store? I gathered all my ingredients at home to come up with some creative new protein bars. Here's what I did:
1 cup gluten-free banana flour
1 cup millet
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 scoop protein powder (I chose brown rice protein)
1 egg (probably could have used 2, or at least added applesauce/mashed banana)
1.5 cups coconut oil
2 cups almond milk
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1. Combine first 4 ingredients and mix thoroughly.
2. Add egg/banana/applesauce, honey, coconut oil and mix until all flour has been coated.
3. Add almond milk in divided amounts, mixing in between. Do not add full 2 cups of almond milk if the mixture becomes too liquid. The consistency should be thick enough to be able to roll between your fingers and not get stuck on your fingers.
4. Pack into lined cookie sheet at desired thickness. The mixture will not rise, so make it as thick as you like! I could have made 3 separate cookie sheets, but chose to make 1 really thick and 1 thinner loaf.
5. Bake at 350C for 30 minutes if thin and 45 minutes if more than 1 inch thick. The top of the loaf should be a little crunchy. Allow it to cool completely before cutting into bars. Store in an air tight container.
How to keep it real and regular
No matter what your age or gender, you have likely experienced constipation at one time or another. Whether it be because of something you ate last night, the little water you drank today or the stress you’ve been experiencing since last week, being backed up is no fun.
I think we can all agree that everybody feels great after a bowel movement. So how can we make this more of a reality for the thousands of people who drink adequate water and still experience chronic constipation?
This powerful linseed is a plant-based phytoestrogen, which means aside from its ability to bulk up your stool, it can also help to modulate an estrogen imbalance. This is really great for anyone experiencing menopausal symptoms, pre-menstrual symptoms or any other hormone imbalance that wreaks havoc on your digestive tract and leaves you backlogged.
Peppermint and Chamomile tea
Castor Oil Belly Rubs
We know it is as an antihistamine, antioxidant, immune booster and skin protector, but did you know it is also an osmotic laxative in higher doses? Basically, it means that vitamin C helps to draw water into the large intestine to facilitate bowel movements when consumed in excess of the body’s requirements. Why not clear out the intestines while having an added bonus of immune support?
Well known and researched for its effects on muscle relaxation, magnesium is an incredible micronutrient that is commonly deficient in our vegetables and therefore also our diets. Similarly to Vitamin C, magnesium when taken in excess can help to clear out the intestines. However, it is only effective when consumed with adequate water intake, so drink up!
If you are finding that constipation is happening more often than not, it might be worth considering a more thorough investigation into what might be affecting your digestive health. As a Naturopathic Doctor, my goal is to rule out any infections or conditions that may be the root cause of the delayed transit time. I also find food sensitivity testing to be a powerful indicator and life changer for many, bringing awareness to certain foods that may be harder on the system than previously thought. Stress and anxiety also have direct connections to the digestive tract, making mental health an important component to consider in a health history. If you feel that this is something to consider as part of your health strategy, please discuss with your Naturopathic Doctor.
Dr. DeSouza shares new research and discoveries along her journey.