Patients are flocking to her clinic, burdened by fatigue, weight gain, body aches, poor sleep, chronic fatigue, digestive issues, and waning libido. Their shared affliction: adrenal fatigue, a debilitating condition often overlooked.
Chronic emotional, physical, and mental stressors drive this exhaustion, breaking down the central stress response system’s communication, hindering cortisol release. Unlike reproductive organs, adrenal glands don’t falter—they tirelessly produce hormones. Amidst scepticism, Tahlia Thomas, Happy Healthy You’s Lead Nutritionist offers solace and knowledge, unravelling the enigma of adrenal fatigue.
I have an increasing number of patients who come to me feeling tired, complaining of weight gain around the abdomen, body aches, poor sleep, chronic fatigue, digestive problems, and a decrease in libido.
I tell them these are all symptoms of adrenal fatigue – a condition that is often ignored despite how debilitating it can be.
Its causes are many, but mostly fatigue of this kind is fuelled by chronic emotional, physical, and / or mental stressors.
Chronic stress breaks down the communication in our central stress response system and therefore is unable to signal the release or rest of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Unlike our reproductive organs, the adrenal glands are not designed to eventually give out or stop making hormones.
Adrenal fatigue often afflicts individuals who have the tendency to push themselves to the limit in everything that they do. In most cases, these people overwork, overtrain, and overthink. They’re also the biggest critics of their own lives, constantly striving for perfection and success or prioritising everyone else instead of themselves.
If this sounds like you, I have some tips to support you in keeping your adrenal health in check.
Step 1: Listen to signals from your body.
The first thing in managing your adrenal health is to identify stressors and improve stress management. It’s imperative to understand what triggers your stress and minimise these as best you can.
When you’re tired, SLEEP. When you’re hungry, EAT. Do not push yourself to the limit as this is exactly how we throw our natural rhythms out of sync.
Prioritise how your body feels, not by how much work needs to be done.
Step 2: Transform your nutrition.
Eat well-balanced meals to allow for a steady release of energy rather than peaks and troughs. It’s important to gain energy from nutrition rather than relying on spikes in adrenaline and cortisol.
I recommend choosing foods that are unprocessed, sugar-free and are rich in B vitamins, magnesium, quality proteins, fibre, and omega 3.
Step 3: Make sure you have good sleep hygiene.
Just like babies, many of us need to be prepared for sleep, particularly those with adrenal fatigue.
Pushing past that sleepy phase will only spike cortisol and leave you wired before bedtime. Try to always get into bed at a time that allows for 7-8 hours of sleep.
Your sleep routine might involve a slow walk after dinner, essential oils in your diffuser, a cup of passionflower and skullcap tea, ten minutes of reading or a short meditation. I often like to incorporate a mix of all three.
Step 4: Avoid caffeine or stimulants.
Apologies to all the coffee drinkers! Anything caffeinated such as black tea, coffee or chocolate will create unwanted spikes in cortisol and place an added burden on our adrenals. The same goes for dramatic television shows, bright lights from electronic devices and rigorous exercise late in the day.
Step 5: Take a good magnesium supplement.
Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 reactions in your body and is swiftly ‘used up’ when the body is under stress.
A deficiency in magnesium can lead to problems with depression, irritability, insomnia, anxiety and more. A lack of the nutrient can also cause cramping, muscle pain, twitches, and fatigue.
Good magnesium supplementation can alleviate these symptoms. Try one of our key products, Happy Healthy You’s MSP (Magnesium, Sleep, Pain) which is formulated with copper for optimal absorption.
Step 6: Practice mindfulness, destressing, and being present in every moment.
Mindfulness is becoming a common practice in addressing the trap of overthinking and worrying. Nowadays, there is even research that uses cortisol and hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis function as a marker for improvement in mindfulness-based stress reduction treatments.
I often recommend to my patients to try stress-reducing activities such as massage, counselling, craniosacral therapy, deep breathing, exercise, yoga and meditation as this helps retrain the nervous system to emphasise parasympathetic activity to initiate the relaxation response.
Step 7: Make time for the things you are passionate about!
Ask yourself, what is it that lights you up? When was the last time you connected with the things that bring you joy? Set aside a minimum of 30 minutes each week to engage in something you truly feel passionate about.
If you’re not sure what these are anymore, start brainstorming or take a walk down memory lane.
Tahlia Thomas is an Integrative Nutritionist with a BHSc in Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine who specialises in GIT function and Women’s Health. She is driven to empower & support others to take care of their whole body, holistically. You’ll often find Tahlia in her veggie garden, outside in nature or on a yoga mat. You can follow more of Tahlia’s nutrition adventures at @tahliathomasnutrition on Instagram.
About Happy Healthy You
Founded in 2015, Happy Healthy You is an award-winning Australian-based health and lifestyle company established by Olympian and Author, Lisa Curry, and Naturopath, Women’s Hormonal Specialist and Author, Jeff Butterworth to provide women with information, products, and natural alternatives to hormonal imbalance. With a community-led approach, Happy Healthy You provides a more holistic and natural alternative that empowers you and your family’s health.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and does not constitute health or medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your physical or mental health, seek immediate medical attention.