What is it?
Adrenal Fatigue is characterised by its trademark symptom, excessive tiredness, which cannot be resolved by rest or sleep alone. This extreme tiredness has been labelled Adrenal Fatigue due to its unrelenting fatigue, whereby the Adrenal Glands are unable to cope with prolonged periods of chronic stress. In today’s world, our long – term or chronic stresses are governed by financial concerns, professional and personal relationship situations, and concerns over your health and body. These stresses activate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), also known as the ‘fight – or – flight’ system. One of two components of the autonomic nervous system, the SNS acts like a gas pedal in a car. In times of stress, for survival it raises our heart rate, respiratory rate, and releases stress hormones, namely Adrenalin and Cortisol, while shunting blood away from the digestive tract and into our muscles to either flee from or fight our perceived threat. All of this is stimulated by the SNS, and when we are ‘stuck’ in this state over a long – term, the chronic stress hormone Cortisol is released as a second component of the stress response system, in order to keep the gas pedal down. This hormone is produced by the Adrenal Glands, and it is not until Cortisol levels drop too low, due to prolonged output, that we experience fatigue. It is suggested by this point the Adrenal Glands are no longer functioning optimally. Does this sound familiar to you? It is documented that chronic stress leads to negative changes in the gut. The communication between the Gut and the Brain is amazing, and commonly referred to as the Gut- Brain Axis. Along this pathway our mental state and stress response affects gut microbiota, alters intestinal permeability, increases inflammation, and lowers immunity. This communication is also bidirectional, meaning if the health of your gut is compromised, so to can your state of mental well – being.
Cortisol is the bodies’ daytime hormone, and its significance includes regulating your immune system, nervous system, anti – inflammatory responses, stops your body from feeling stiff, and maintains stable blood sugar levels. It also buffers the effect of insulin, helping you burn body fat for energy when produced in the right dose. Cortisol works to keep blood sugar levels elevated so we can meet the glucose demands of the brain and helps the body retain sodium to keep blood pressure up. It is a vital systematic process in order to keep us alive in a real ‘fight or flight’ situation. Sounds like the perfect hormone right? We run into trouble when we cannot produce the desired levels in relation to other hormones, and it is here where we begin to experience fatigue or burn – out.
Nathan Lardelli – Taylored Fitness