By Dr. Tony Martin
Probably the complaint I hear the most in my clinic is patients complaining of a lack of energy. Yes, today most people are exhausted and they are frustrated because they do not know what to do. It is important to take a lack of energy seriously. Fatigue is a warning signal from your body that is starting to break down. My research into chronic fatigue syndrome has demonstrated that exhaustion lasting past six weeks is an indicator of other underlying clinical findings such as an acidic pH, inflammation and excessive free radical damage.
Adrenal glands: the major culprit
Your adrenal glands are chest-nut shaped organs on top your kidneys and they play a major part in fatigue. Your body is actually made for stress. However, if that stress is constant and long lasting it can cause adrenal exhaustion. The world has changed, especially for women. My mother gave birth to 11 children.
I get a headache just thinking about that. However, my mother was not stressed like the modern day woman. Today women compete with men in the workforce, raise families and generally are the family’s CEO.
Different types of stress
1) Emotional Stress – family dynamics, jobs, relationships, a sick loved one, financial pressure all play havoc with the adrenal glands.
2) Environmental Stress- Our world has gone through enormous changes in the last 50+ years. Since World War 2 over 85,000 new chemicals have been introduced into our environment. These chemicals are found mostly in our homes.
3) Nutritional Stress – Fast foods are high in calories, very low in nutritional value and play a role in adrenal exhaustion. High consumption of sugar (the average Canadian consumes 170 pounds a year) taxes the adrenal glands.
Symptoms of adrenal stress
1) Low Energy
2) Disturbed Sleep
4) Weight gain-especially around the mid-section
5) Increased PMS, bloating
6) Chocolate Cravings
7) Mild Depression
8) Decreased Sex Drive
Adrenal gland exhaustion and weight gain
When the adrenals are not functioning properly people often notice that they gain weight, especially around the mid-section. This of course frustrates people because even when they reduce food intake it really does not make a lot of difference.
There are two reasons for this unexplained weight gain:
1) The adrenals secrete several hormones, including cortisol and DHEA. An imbalance of these two during exhaustion changes protein, carbohydrates and fat metabolism resulting in the storing of fat.
2) The second reason is that adrenal fatigue will send a person into subclinical hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This in turn leads the body to store fat.
So what do I do?
The key to stimulating the adrenal glands is to make sure one’s blood sugar is always regulated. Therefore, a high protein diet including meat, non-dairy cheese, legumes, beans, peas, fish and even protein shakes is advised.
Snack every two hours on almonds, pistachios or walnuts and limit intake of simple carbs like sugar, pastries, bagels, doughnuts, etc. In terms of fluid, drink two litres a day of spring water and avoid concentrated juices, soft drinks and cow’s milk.
Adrenal stimulating smoothie
1/4 cup berries, frozen or fresh
2 tablespoons flaxseed
1 scoop hemp seed powder or Propeptide Advanced Protein Supplement
8 ounces of almond, rice or goat’s milk
1 tablespoon of maple syrup (not Aunt Jemima’s) blend for 1-2 minutes
2 tablespoons of plain yogurt with no added sugar
Dr. Martin D.C., PhD., R.N.C.P., D.N.M., is a clinical nutritionist practicing in Sudbury. He is the author of 10 books including his best seller “Medical Crisis, Secrets Your Doctor Won’t Share With You” and his new book “Energy Robbers and the Fatigue Cure”. He is host of the “Doctor Is In” on KFM radio show in Sudbury, North Bay, Elliot Lake and Manitoulin Island.