Our salt-phobic society has deprived millions of people struggling with adrenal fatigue of something that would decrease their symptoms and speed their recovery.  They have taught their bodies to ignore the urge for salt because it is politically incorrect to salt food.    ~ James Wilson   (Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome)

 

I've been struggling with pain and fatigue since my last post.  Being that I've obviously had stressed and fatigued adrenals for some time, I need to expect this.  Even on my road to recovery I must expect the ups and downs.

I also know that I had not been doing so well with staying hydrated or other health habits I was trying to do better with so that is probably also playing into the sleep cycle problems and fatigue and pain as well.  Of course, we're not ruling out there could be other factors to play.  I know my thyroid is sluggish as well and we are looking into other testing to see if anything else is physically stressing the adrenals and playing into these symptoms - like the MTHFR mutation which I found out I have two of and other things we are waiting on.

In the meantime,  I know I need to heal my gut health which has always been an issue, especially after losing my gall bladder almost 24 years ago (NOT a surgery I would recommend to ANYONE), and detox which is really really important to anyone with an MTHFR mutation, and learn to love and care for my adrenals!

One thing that most experts that write about Adrenal Fatigue agree on is that as much as 60-80 percent of the population probably have at least some level of adrenal fatigue.  Some of us are just a whole lot more fatigued than others.  And, most also agree,  a common symptom of adrenal fatigue is salt cravings, and there is actually a strong physiological reason for this craving.

I wrote on my opinion of salt back in 2015.  When we started revamping our food intake when

Photo From Pixabay

we were trying to approach ADHD with natural methods and inadvertently discovered the cause to other mental health issues in our family (see Our Food Story), I spent hours and hours of research into foods, artificial ingredients, neurotoxins, and ended up diving into reading about many many many concepts that I had learned in health books in high school only to find out that the majority of that information was actually incorrect, including the myth that salt was bad for us.  It turns out that it's only the refined table salt with added iodine that's bad-  and the reason it's bad is due to the over processing.

Even so, while I don't fear salt, it was never my habit to over salt things.  I kept Real Salt in the cupboard and Himalayan salt or Celtic salt here and there and would always add when the recipe called for it and would dash it here or there on eggs or vegetables, but had grown up in a house where from junior high on everyone was afraid of salt and so it just doesn't cross my mind to use it.

So now that I'm struck with fatigue (of the adrenal variety), and I'm reading, once again I find that salt is NOT the enemy-  not the real kind anyway.  It's actually important, according to the experts in Adrenal Fatigue (James Wilson is one), to allow your body to dictate the salt in your diet.

When your adrenal glands are fatigued, they do not produce the right amounts of particular hormones, including aldosterone.  A low amount of aldosterone can disrupt the sodium balance at a cellular level, increasing a person's needs for natural sodium (sea salt).  So when a person has adrenal fatigue, they can often benefit from taking an additional 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt in a glass of water in the morning.  Some sources recommend the one glass, while others say to do one in the afternoon as well while still others say to add salt to every glass you drink throughout the day.

I add it to 2-3 glasses of my 5 (16 ounce) glasses of water each day.  And I try to remember to add a little more sea salt ( I actually use Real Salt, Celtic Sea Salt and Pink Himalayan through the day for variety) to my foods than I use to, as well as kelp granules (for the extra iodine).  Most people with adrenal fatigue do not mind the taste of the salt-water mixture (some even put it straight on their tongues- something Dr. Wilson suggested for at night to help with sleeping ).  As your adrenal health improves, you may find that you do start to not like the taste or find it less appealing-  it could even make you nauseous.  This is a good sign that you need to cut back on your intake.  Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for!    Right now, I'm not minding the taste at all in my warm water (see my last post on Adrenals & Water), so I'm sticking with it as I continue on my journey to rectify my adrenal health and other related issues.

Naturally, I'm doing a lot more than just increasing my water and salt intake on this journey.  But there's only so much room in one blog post and only so much I can write about with the fatigue and struggling to juggle all the priorities in life according to my level of functioning on any given day.  But I promise to keep the posts coming!  In the meantime, if you are struggling with adrdenal fatigue, or think you might be, check out Dr. Wilson's book (see link below).  I just got another book in the mail but haven't started it yet--  The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution.

Recommended Readings:

Did you know that water is important for your Adrenal Glands as well as your overall health?

Last week I wrote my first post on my Adrenal Fatigue.  The past week has been a mixture of sleep disturbances, physical symptoms (body aches, muscle tenderness and pain, leg cramps and more), brain fog, distraction and more.  As I learn more about my symptoms and how they relate to adrenal fatigue (and realize how long this has been going on and slowly escualting), I want to reach out and share with you all what I'm learning.  I'm realizing how many of us (especially stressed out moms in this day and age) probably have at least a very mild case of adrenal fatigue.  My case is more severe only because I never recognized it for what it is and never knew I had the power to make things better!  I hope I can help you avoid getting to this extreme!

I made a chart a few weeks ago-  during one of my worst week for symptoms to make a 'baseline' so I can keep track of my progress and, hopefully, have a visual to show me that progress is being made.  This way, on days like today when I am dragging, feeling so exhausted for no obvious reason (I actually slept well last night) and my body is aching, I can look at these charts and at least be grateful it's not as bad as it was a month ago and remind myself that adrenal fatigue has it's ups and downs even on the road to recovery. I probably should have included dehydration... ...continue reading "Adrenals & Water"

I've recently been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue.  So in between being exhausted and trying to carry on with life, I've done a lot of reading both online and in books.  I am so eternally thankful to be working with a FANTASTIC health coach (Sarah- if you are reading this- YOU ARE AWESOME!) who helped me discover the name to what's been plaguing  me and a super homeopath who has experienced adrenal fatigue herself so is well versed in treatment approaches.

There's a lot out there on the subject.  Quite a number of variations to approach too.  And while my goal is to share my story in hopes to make a difference in someone else's life, it's hard to know where to begin for treatment and where to begin to talk about this 'illness.'

 First, what are adrenals?

The adrenal glands are small kidney-shaped endocrine glands, often compared to the size of a walnut.  They are located in the lower back area just above the  kidneys. While small, they are actually very powerful and necessary. When our bodies experience stress, the adrenal glands release hormones (adrenaline, cortisol)  that help keep us alert, focused, and increase our stamina, usually assuring that we able to deal with pressure.

  What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Unfortunately, it is not yet a common term among medical doctors (though it is starting to become better known), as it's a hard to detect syndrome which often fails to show up in blood work unless your DHEA is extremely low or you have the full development of Addison's Disease.  But more and more doctors are recognizing this illness. Dr. James Wilson describes Adrenal Fatigue as a "collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level.  Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress".

I guess you could say my life has been filled with stress.  While I like to downplay most of it, looking back... well, yeah, I've had a lot of health issues from day one (cleft palate that led to many surgeries and eating difficulties), childhood illnesses (I could write a book on strep! Ha-ha!), childhood emotional issues that left an impact on me and how I would relate to other relationships, multiple surgeries including sudden appendectomy, gall bladder and a loss of an ovary and other surgeries related to the cleft palate and so many ear surgeries I can't count that has led to permanent scarring and hearing loss.  Later in life physical stuff and emotional stuff played into the bipolar depression- of which I did ELIMINATE (see this post)- but of course have always dealt with anxiety (of which MTFHR might be playing a major role- but that's for another post!) and being a highly sensitive person. My education was difficult- no learning disabilities (diagnosable at that time) but it didn't come easy. Of course there were work stresses and the normal stresses of motherhood, late nights and other emotional traumas through the years that are many as well too lengthy  to mention here  and other  factors to consider.  So yes, I've had one major stress factor after another, often overlapping, and not a whole lot of rest from it. So could my adrenals be stressed to the max?  Um, undoubtedly so.

It's true that most of us experience  stressors every day. Mothers in general know what stress is  . And mothers or not, we all have experienced stress sitting in traffic, having to speak to a large group of people, or have an  argument with a spouse or  friend. Experiencing a range of physical and psychological demands can trigger our adrenal glands to give small blasts of strength throughout the day by way of hormone spurts in the form of adrenaline and cortisol.  This is all normal.

However, when someone experiences constant stress, the adrenal glands end up maintaining high cortisol levels-  not something they are supposed to be doing! And when someone experiences high levels of stress for a long period of time, without much or any rest in between, the adrenal glands become unable to respond appropriately or in a healthy manner.  Thus you have adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue can affect the body’s short term response to stress. Adrenal fatigue  impairs  the body’s ability to produce and/or  balance other hormones that will  promote health and general  well-being. If you feel unbalanced or several of the symptoms listed below, it may be time to consider whether your adrenals are functioning properly and it may be time to address whatever the stressors are in your life before you become seriously ill.

Of course, stress isn't the only factor that causes Adrenal Fatigue.  Adrenal fatigue seems to strike women most often but can certainly affect men as well. It occurs most often among chronic dieters(unhealthy diets), workaholics and perfectionists, over exercises (yes, too much exercise IS a bad thing) and those that undergo more than the average amount of emotional stress.

It's important to note that developing Adrenal Fatigue is  dependent on your personal threshold for stress and how your body reacts to it. This means that someone who works 40 hours or more a week, exercises for an hour or more daily, and eats a poor diet may not experience adrenal fatigue,  yet  someone else who might only be working less than 40 hours, walks daily, but still has other stresses or factors in their life may have their adrenals effected.

It's also important to note that  Adrenal Fatigue occurs in varying stages. It can start as what appears as mild fatigue with other minor symptoms but eventually, if left untreated,  evolve into the full blown 'crash' phase (mild cases usually will not result in any blood test abnormalities while more severe cases may show up as hormonal issues, including low DHEA) that leads to constant fatigue and 'burnt-out' symptoms.

So What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include, but are NOT limited to  trouble waking up in the morning, constant fatigue even when enough sleep has been had, slowed metabolism, cravings for salty foods, feeling cold often, decreased immunity, brain-fog, difficulty concentrating or focusing, feeling overwhelmed (constantly), problems handling stress and depression/anxiety, PMS and other hormonal issues, digestive issues, muscle and joint aches/pains/spasms similar to symptoms of fibromyalgia, and more. One or two of these symptoms does not constitute adrenal fatigue but a combination of several of them for an extended period of time may.  Of course, a lot of these symptoms can be characteristic of other illnesses, so one needs to consult a professional and should never self-diagnose.

I plan on writing more about adrenal fatigue, what I am doing to treat my own and what others find to be beneficial.  I hope that I can help anyone else that is fighting this syndrome.  Of course, I remind you I am not a medical doctor-  just an Orthodox Mom trying to figure out this challenge in life!

 

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A few of you have asked me over the year---  what are you working on?

Well, uh.... nothing really.

This is it.

The blog has come back to life,  And that's where my satisfaction must lie for now.  And I'm okay with that....kind of.

Life just got to hectic for awhile.  I do too much.  I know.  And everything I do I attempt with this perfectionist gung-ho enthusiasm worrying that it's not good enough and then I keep adding more things to the list---  just take what I blog about here ---  the books, the homeschooling, the food, the natural products, my time to God and my faith, my family, my friends.....    all this and more and not in any particular order.  But it's a lot.  And I got caught up in it all and frazzled by not being able to do it all perfectly and not being able to please everyone (including myself) to the point that I can barely catch a breath.  Gee--- is it any wonder I have adrenal fatigue?

So I threw in the towel awhile back on the manuscript writing and the blog.  I thought somehow that would make everything else okay.  Did it?  No, not really.  Because, as I'm learning,  in my facing that my body is suffering from the stress and other health issues I had over the years, that the thing I need to learn most is just to be at peace with myself and the fact that I am not perfect and I will never be....probably even less so the more I drive myself.

So I've lowered some standards and changing my perception over the course of this year (our style of homeschooling has probably been the most pleasant and biggest change) and I'm slowly adding some things back in that bring me peace and uplift my spirit- namely reading, having fun with Lemongrass Spa and yes, my writing.  But for now the writing needs to stay with the blog.

With the blog, it allows me to write about all the things that bring me joy and the things I'm learning about.  I'll probably be writing more about my learning and experiences with adrenal fatigue and won't have a lot of time for manuscripts just yet.  I do think I might start keeping a notebook again though.  To write down ideas as they come to me.  I just need to NOT scratch out actual stories, because, for me, that just leads to frustration that I don't have time to keep at it.

But to all my writer friends.  I haven't forgotten you.  I'd love to hear from you and know what you are up to.  And someday-  I'll be back in the children's writing scene!

 

On February 27, the first full day of Lent,  my family will be starting our next Whole30.  What is the Whole30 you ask?  And why during Lent?

What is the Whole 30?

The Whole30 is a food program that allows you to take charge of your health and change your relationship with food.  It is 30 days (or longer and, in this case, with Lent upon us, our Whole30 is 40 days plus another 7 days of fasting during Holy Week- so 47 days) of eating nothing but truly nourishing    foods.  It means foods that are not damaging to our bodies in any way which, incidentally,  goes against that traditional food pyramid we grew up with and certainly goes against the Standard American Diet and will not include McDonald's or Taco Bell. Doing a Whole30 gives you an opportunity to connect the dots between what you put into your body and the energy you feel, the aches and pains that can't be explained , the weight you can't lose, the mood swings that take charge of your days and the chance to change your life.  Because let's face it.  What you eat does affect your health.  And your health affects EVERYTHING!

Recent findings have led me to believe though some may already consider my eating  healthy,   I really do need to take charge of my health and change my relationship with food. While we eat a primarily Paleo like diet, I am known to cheat a bit.  Okay, a lot.  (yeah, my husband is shaking his head as he reads this and I see the little bubble over his head that says 'she eats WAY to much sugar and dairy'....I know dear, I know).  Yes, I'm known to eat my share of raw dairy, cashew ice-cream fudge from Trader Joe's, Gluten Free Brownies (pretty much my answer to everything), chocolate (milk chocolate if it's my choice), and pretty much any sugary thing that is minus the artificial ingredients. , So no, I'm not a saint when it comes to food (or anything else for that matter) .

Anyway, I've struggled on and off for years of unexplained fatigue, sleep issues, digestive issues, etc. that just haven't gone away entirely though they improve and, yes, of course the more I stick to the healthy Paleo diet, the better the improvement.  I've started seeing a health coach and, little by little, have been piecing things together.  I've learned a lot more about what devastating effects NOT having a gall bladder can have on a body and I haven't had one for about 24 years now.  And I've learned a lot about Adrenal Fatigue (yes, it's real and yes, I have it.... probably have had it for quite a long time.  QUITE a long time.) and I've learned about genetic testing that may pinpoint a few other things about my body and how it absorbs nutrients..  But while the testing is still out, I do know about the adrenals, the low iron, and the missing gall bladder.   And that all needs addressed. And what better way to do it then knock out all the foods I have a bad relationship with.  Yep.  It's time for another Whole30.  Extended Whole30.

Is This Just Another Fad Diet?

In a word? No.  In more words?  It's not about giving up calories (I never count calories), or eating less like fad diets are. The Whole30 is about discovering good food standards and eliminating an unhealthy relationship with your food and an overactive immune system and a disrupted digestive system.  It's about eating  (a lot of) foods that feed and nurture your body - giving you better digestion, more energy , eliminating food cravings, resetting your metabolism,  and yes, maybe even shed some pounds if you have them to shed. Fad diets do not do this.  The Whole30 will.

Our First Whole30

Our first Whole30 was back in 2014 and I blogged about it here.  I posted weekly updates that included what we ate and how we felt.  That experience was quite an awakening to how much certain foods were dominating our lives, how emotionally connected we were to food, and how much better we felt (after a week or two) of being away from those so-called foods. We definitely learned about what foods/food groups cause inflammation, congestion, joint pain and other pains, digestive issues, and more.  (I already knew foods and ingredients affected my mood)

Why Lent?

2014 was our first year of being Paleo.  And we were struggling with adapting to the lifestyle and seeing the dramatic effects it was having on our health.  My husband was losing an incredible amount of weight and Lent was coming fast.  We had no idea what to do.  A typical Orthodox Christian fast involves complete abstinence from all animal products.  And while that wasn't a problem as far as the dairy was concerned, it was a problem for meat and oils (tradition has it that oils were once stored in pouches made from animals skins/intestines and therefore was also given up along with the animal products). We had been toying with the idea of doing a whole30 but kept putting it off because, well frankly, it left me quaking how to truly stick to this paleo thing 100% with no cheating whatsoever.

What to do?  We approached our priest for discussion and advice and well, a blessing.  We had ( and continue to have) amazing support.   So instead of the typical Orthodox fast, we follow a Whole30 for the duration of Lent.

What does this mean we give up instead of meat, dairy, eggs and oils?  It means no grains (none- not a one including wheat, rice, corn, quinoa, oats, etc), no alcohol, no legumes (legumes include beans, peanuts and soybeans and anything containing soy) with the only exceptions as green beans snow peas and sugar snap peas), no dairy (not even my raw cheese), no artificial ingredients including carrageenan, msg, or added sulfites, no baked goods, 'treats', or junk foods made with approved ingredients (in other words, no treats even if they are paleo), and absolutely no sugar of ANY KIND. Yep, that last one is a killer for me- making this truly harder than any Orthodox Fast I have followed.

And why , again during Lent?  Because we know we'll stick to it.  We are a family of faith and we have always taken the Lenten season very very seriously.  If we say we are doing this for God, we WILL DO IT.

In Conclusion

In the upcoming weeks I hope to keep you updated on our progress like I did week by week back in 2014.  It may not happen weekly this year, but I will post at least a few times and perhaps share some new favorite recipes. In the meantime, if you have any questions on the Whole30, check out the books I have pictured on the right of the post or any of the websites below!  And of course, feel free to ask questions!

Food Freedom Forever - (click on the image above) I haven't read this yet- just stumbled on it while looking for links to sources.  I just may put it on my wishlist soon!

Whole30 Program Rules

Whole30.com

For The Facebook Fans

Help With Home Alone Meltdowns on the Whole30