Adrenal Fatigue and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Many people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have adrenal fatigue. My goal is not just to explain how this develops, but to give you some tips to help restore adrenal health. Aside from being a licensed medical professional who has helped patients with adrenal fatigue, I have been personally diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease, had adrenal stress and successfully restored my adrenal health.
While many people are aware of the common symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue (a constant feeling of exhaustion, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, etc.), many people don’t realize that stressed adrenal glands can actually develop an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is because chronic adrenal fatigue can compromise the immune system. So, over a long period of time, this weakened immune system can make someone susceptible to an autoimmune thyroid disease like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
The good news is that most cases of adrenal fatigue are reversible. The problem is that most people don’t know how to do this as many just go out and buy supplements from their local health food store in the hope that this will help. Some consult a medical or holistic doctor, but the fact remains that most doctors do not know how to properly treat this common problem. I too was guilty of this when I first started practicing as I also simply told many of my patients in the first few years of practice to eat healthily, tell them to take supplements, etc.
3 main causes of adrenal fatigue
The truth is that good nutrition and proper supplementation can help, but this alone will not be enough. To better understand this, let’s look at three of the main causes of adrenal fatigue:
Cause #1: Chronic stress. This is one of the main causes of adrenal fatigue because while the adrenal glands are designed to deal with acute stressful situations, they are unable to deal effectively with chronic, sustained stress. Unfortunately, we live in a society where the majority of people have some type of chronic stress in their lives that takes its toll on the adrenal glands over a period of months and years, leading to adrenal fatigue.
Cause #2: Bad Eating Habits. Poor diet can definitely affect your adrenal health and eventually contribute to adrenal fatigue. This is especially true for those who frequently eat refined carbohydrates, which is where many people fit into this category. The reason this can affect the adrenal glands is because refined foods remove both the nutrients and fiber from the overall food source. While manufacturers replace some of the nutrients removed, these refined foods no longer contain the fiber component to slow absorption. This means that when you eat a refined food, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and spikes blood sugar levels.
Someone who is in the habit of eating refined carbohydrates (sugary cereals and snack foods, bread, pasta, etc.) throughout the day will have their blood sugar levels spike and plummet over and over again. Over a period of months and years, this will put a significant strain on the adrenal glands as well as other endocrine glands in the body. While I won’t go into the physiology behind it here, adrenal fatigue affects the hormones cortisol (released when blood sugar levels are too low) and insulin (released by the pancreas when blood sugar levels are high). Over time, this can lead to depleted cortisol levels, which in turn can lead to chronic fatigue and many other symptoms associated with stressed adrenal glands. It can also lead to conditions like insulin resistance, diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease, etc.
Cause #3: Not eating regularly. Aside from eating junk food frequently, many people are guilty of not eating regularly throughout the day. Many will skip breakfast, which isn’t a good thing either. This, in turn, is all related to balancing blood sugar levels, and if you skip breakfast and/or don’t eat for more than a few hours after waking up, it will put a lot of strain on your adrenal glands, eventually leading to adrenal fatigue.
Besides these three factors, there are other causes of adrenal fatigue, but just these lifestyle changes can really do wonders when it comes to adrenal health.
How to restore the health of your adrenal glands
So how can you reverse adrenal fatigue and restore adrenal health? Here are some of the things you can do to have a profound impact on adrenal health:
1. Manage the stress in your life better. I realize this isn’t easy, but the fact remains that if you don’t manage the stresses in your life well, there’s virtually no chance of restoring your adrenal health. Almost everyone deals with chronic stress, so I’m not suggesting that you can eliminate all different stressors. However, most of us are much better at handling stress.
2. Reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates you eat. While it would be great if you could completely eliminate all refined foods from your diet, even drastically reducing the amount of refined foods you eat each day can be very helpful. Eat more whole foods and try to make sure each meal includes some protein. Personally, I grew up eating sugary granola for breakfast every morning (Fruit Loops was my favorite), but these days there’s a healthy protein shake for breakfast that includes some berries (raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries), some purified water, protein powder, flaxseed oil, and an egg . And that might not seem all that enticing to you, but it actually tastes okay and gives me a lot of energy to start the day. If you really want it a little sweeter, you can also add half a banana.
That doesn’t mean you have to start the day with a protein shake too, as you can also eat organic eggs or another healthy source of protein. And no, organic muesli is not healthy! I brought this up because some people think just because a product is organic means it’s healthy, but that’s not true. While it may be better than eating a non-organic brand, it’s still a refined carbohydrate.
3. Eat regularly throughout the day… and don’t skip breakfast! In addition to breakfast, try not to go more than two hours throughout the day without eating. And by the way, back to breakfast: you don’t have to eat a huge breakfast to start the morning. I realize that many don’t wake up feeling hungry, but you still need some form of protein to get your day started. Even just a few bites of something high in protein is better than not eating at all. Personally, I like the protein drink not only because it gives me some protein to start the day, but also because I add two cups of purified water to my body instantly hydrated. So having breakfast when you wake up and eating every two hours after that will do wonders for balancing your blood sugar levels.
4. A dietary supplement can help. Many people want to know if taking supplements and/or herbal remedies can help with adrenal fatigue. Personally, I think it’s best to consult a natural endocrine doctor, especially since it’s not like everyone with adrenal fatigue needs to take the same supplements and herbs, and also, people need to take different dosages. The only herb I would like to mention that can help with sugar cravings is Gymnema. This is very effective in getting rid of the sugar cravings you have. Again, I recommend that you consult with a natural endocrine doctor to know what dose to take and to get a quality product.
If you follow the advice I have given you will see your energy levels return over time, you will sleep better and you will feel much better overall. Not only can this help reverse adrenal fatigue, but along with other natural treatments, it can help restore the full health of someone with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Some of these things you can no doubt do yourself to improve your adrenal health, but if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and want to consider a natural treatment protocol, I would highly recommend consulting with a knowledgeable natural endocrine doctor. After all, it is a serious autoimmune thyroid disease and for best results, it is best to consult an expert.
Thanks to Dr. Eric Osansky