Eat This: Burnout – Adrenal Failure

We talk about stress like it’s a fact of life these days, and unless you’re living on a desert island with someone fanning you all day, bringing you food and drinks with umbrellas, you’re likely experiencing stress on a daily basis. What happens when it goes on and on and becomes chronic and you just can’t get off the stress merry-go-round? Burnout happens, that’s what. Does that mean that you can’t get out of bed or function? No, but it does mean that your two little adrenal glands that sit on top of your kidneys could be fatigued beyond what they were designed to cope with and when they’re pooped, all sorts of things go off the rails. 

Stress can be emotional like grief, and sadness; mental stress from anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts; physical stress that looks like pain, and physical stress can come from over exercising and they all take their toll, and can be the underlying issues and cause of a long list of what you might be dealing with. Some don’t think that they feel stressed, because they’re not running from that tiger or bear, but if you think of the uncertainty of life right now, and over the past year of the pandemic it’s likely that your brain’s threat detection system has been on high alert and in fight-or-flight for months. Your body was not meant to live in a chronically stressed state, so those feelings of being tired but also wired, kind of at the same time mean you’re burnt out. You might experience palpitations or feel anxious or have trouble sleeping. You might get food cravings, and not only for sugary foods and sweets, but also crave salty snacks like chips and salted nuts. You may get dizzy when you stand up from low blood pressure, caused by the unbalance of stress hormones. Don’t feel like you have to fall down for this to be you, there are many symptoms that can come from adrenal fatigue and burn out.

So today on EAT THIS with Lianne how do you know you’re there, at that burnout point; what might you be feeling, and of course what can you do about it with a dynamo naturopathic doctor who is going to share her expertise. 

There are medical tests that would show if your adrenal glands are struggling and affected by Cushings or Addisons disease, so as I usually do, I recommend speaking with your doctor about anything ongoing or worrying. What we are talking about today is on a functional level. How your body is functioning and adapting under stress and how it’s recovering. As I mentioned, the fight-or-flight reaction from your nervous system is crucial for survival.

What burnout deals with is that constant reaction to chronic stress, no matter where it comes from. There is a point at which your body starts letting you know that it’s not coping. A few aches and pains, the odd crappy night sleep or just over all feeling like you’re getting ‘old’. When you don’t listen, it ups the volume and eventually will be screaming at you, so this is when it’s time to sit up and listen. The stress response causes wear and tear on your body that lead to physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms. Those aches and pains like a sore back that just won’t quit, or a twitchy eye or other body part. That doesn’t feel so serious, but kinda normal, right? Well then your body starts screaming with chest pain you feel like your heart is racing.

Are you listening yet? How about feeling tired all the time and you’re having trouble sleeping? I suffer with headaches, dizziness and have a head tremor that I don’t feel but I know gets worse when I’m stressed. Then there’s the juxtaposition of high blood pressure versus low blood pressure. Chronically high BP is a worry obviously, but so is my insanely low BP, which isn’t necessarily any healthier. You may not realize that you’re clenching your jaw, but look out for that one—it can happen at night or during the day and causes muscle tension in your neck and has a knock on effect to the rest of your body. A symptom that could get a guy’s attention more is difficulty performing in the bedroom—erectile dysfunction and low libido, yep adrenal fatigue and burn out. The last, more physical issue is your immune system and ability to heal tanks. Maybe you’re sick a lot, getting recurring sinus infections, yeast infections or have mouth ulcers that won’t heal. All that has to do with your stress response and how it affects the rest of your body. 

Burn out of the emotional and mental side looks like anxiety or irritability, depression, panic attacks and sadness. Behaviours of burnout can be drinking every day, or night looking to feel better or take that edge off. More addictive behaviours of gambling, shopping, compulsive sex, smoking and using drugs. They’re a bandaid for burnout. So if you’ve identified with any of this list—and believe me there is more, let’s dive into this and learn more from a very experienced naturopathic doctor, Christine MathesonChristine is not only a licensed naturopathic doctor, but she’s an Arvigo®Practitioner and certified Kundalini yoga instructor. Her expertise has helped patients since 2001 in the area of pelvic health from every corner of your belly, as well as mindful stress management and children’s health.

While most of us would like to take a pill and be all better—there are a few that will help, but they’re vitamins, not medicines, the healing truly comes down to the big picture of lifestyle—that includes diet, sleep, are you breathing, doing breathwork, movement that’s intentional like yoga. I went for a run the other day because it helps me, but there have been times in my life when I couldn’t do it because exercise is a stress on your adrenals and if you’re burnt out, then your intense workout will make it worse. 

Mental health hygiene of staying off social media, but further to that is that your computer and phone screens, that blue light that comes from both, mess with your circadian rhythm and your ability to sleep. When you have that light in your eyes, your body won’t pump out melatonin which is what helps you fall asleep. Turn off that phone and screen at least an hour before bed because sleep hygiene is imperative for your adrenals to be able to take a breath. 

Regular meals, and intermittent fasting could help too. It’s possible that fasting is not the right thing for you right now, so eat regularly to stabilize your blood sugar. I know you crave the sugar, neeeeed that caffeine, only have time to refined foods from a box or package, but that all creates stress in the body. The more refined, the less fiber, the faster the release of carbs. That means your blood sugar rises, but what goes up, must come down, so that right there is even more stress because when your blood sugar crashes, your body acts like it’s stressed and running from the bear. That rollercoaster is hard on insulin and your diabetic potential, plus puts weight on around your middle and is messing with your cortisol again. 

Stress is inflammatory, so what you eat has to be anti-inflammatory. That starts with the majority of what you’re eating is whole foods. Meaning it’s in it’s real state—a potato, not potato chips or boxed mashed. Add in fish like salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel and sardines, because they are anti-inflammatory. All the colourful and polyphenol and anthocyanin berries like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and cherries (also found in both my Skin Boost and Kid Boost Superfood Powder); dark green leaves—all of them from watercress to arugula, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce instead of iceberg and chard. All those orange foods like sweet potato, carrots, peppers are packed with antioxidants too. Even raid your herb garden because they’re anti-inflammatory—include turmeric and curcumin, ginger and rosemary. Ditch inflammatory foods which include the omega-6 and inflammatory oils, of corn, soy and safflower oils. And don’t skip meals. It can be hard for your body to recover from skipping meals if you have adrenal dysfunction.

Switch your coffee to green tea—I just heard you groan at me, but for a while you need to ditch the coffee. It’s not keeping you going, it’s giving you a false lift and covering that your body is suffering. Green tea contains theanine, which helps your adrenals. 

Supplements – here’s a list of essentials to start with;

  1. Kid Boost or Skin Boost for those antioxidant packed superfoods. I take this every day without fail. 
  2. Liposome B Complex Liquid – the b’s get zapped so fast during stress, that once you start taking this, your body will thank you with more energy, better resilience and sleep. 
  3. Alka C – like the b’s, C is inhaled during stress. Wonder why your wounds aren’t healing? Because there’s no C to help that along. You need about 2000mg twice a day as you start your healing journey. 
  4. Magnesium – the relaxation mineral is deficient in about 70% of the population. Everytime I speak with someone about their intake of magnesium supplements, I tell them to double it. Magnesium bis-glycinate can be taken at higher doses, and has better absorption, so take at least two a day, up to four. Can take 2 in the morning and 2 at bedtime for better and more sound sleep. 
  5. Bio Boost – while your immune system is pooped too, taking a probiotic is essential to help your immunity and because your gut is switched off during stress, those bad bugs are having a field day. Take 3 caps a day. 

All these supplements are available on sproutright.com so head over there and get ’em quick. I know we are low in stock on a few of them, so don’t delay. 

So there you have it. Tired after all that? I can imagine that you’ve got a lot to mull over after all that. Adrenal fatigue and burnout is not something to ignore or hide under the duvet about. You can help yourself here, and if you want to have some testing done, look for a functional medicine doc and have a cortisol saliva test. That way you’ll know where you’re at and where you need to get to. Something like the Oura ring also shows your sleep patterns and your heart rate variability which is an indicator of how you cope with stress. You’ve got some great takeaways, so go forth and start by … you know what I’m going to say … EAT THIS one mouthful at a time. 

 

Christine Matheson

Dr. Christine Matheson, ND is a licensed naturopathic doctor, Arvigo® Therapy Practitioner, and a certified Kundalini yoga instructor who helps women experience true wellness from the inside out and improves their resilience to stress by taking the vital step of achieving better belly health with thriving gut, pelvic and fertility health. Her one-on-one and online group signature Belly Be Well Programs combine natural lifestyle strategies with the unique benefits of the Arvigo® Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy, a self-massage technique that helps to align and decongest the abdominal and pelvic organs. Christine is honoured to have been one of the first ND’s in Canada who pioneered working as part of an integrative medical team in a hospital setting at the former Women’s Pelvic Centre at Women’s College Hospital. Her goal is to help as many women as she can to avoid the hidden costs of stress and unlock their ultimate vitality. Find out about Christine’s new Belly Be WellTM Healthy Gut Reset 2 week online live group program to help you digest your best including learning how to do Arvigo® self abdominal massage. 

Find out more about Dr. Christine Matheson, ND and her signature Belly Be Well™ Programs and learning how to do the Arvigo® self-abdominal massage technique at https://www.christinemathesonnd.com/
Contact her directly with any questions at christine@christinemathesonND.com
Connect with her on social media @drchristinematheson
on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/drchristinematheson/
on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/drchristinematheson/ 

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