Adrenal Fatigue Q & A With Dr. Natasha Iyer
Understanding Adrenal Fatigue
Jeff Aker CSCS
As a trainer, I am often looked at as a catalyst for change for a lot of people. For people looking to look and feel better, the gym is often the first place that comes to mind to achieve the desired result. Where proper nutrition and exercise are commonly known as the pillars to success when it comes to looking and feeling better, it is now becoming more apparent that we cannot ignore the significance of our hormone balance when it comes to our overall performance.
A stress related condition that is becoming more and more mainstream is adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal gland is your defence mechanism when it comes to regulating function of your body. However, chronic or repeated stresses can often provide too much of a challenge for your adrenals to keep up.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to work with an expert on the topic. Dr. Natasha Iyer is a medical doctor as well as the owner of Better 4 Life. Better 4 Life is a Calgary wellness clinic where treating illness is done with a natural approach. She was kind enough to answer some of my questions on the subject. Her website is linked below and is packed with information on adrenal fatigue as well as a number of other services that she provides to improve your quality of life.
JA. What is your definition of adrenal fatigue?
DNI. Adrenal fatigue needs to be clarified:
This is not a medically recognised diagnosis. However, as a Medical Doctor, I believe this exists and a more accurate term would be 'adrenal disregulation'. In simple terms, almost abnormal but not yet abnormal. Further to this statement; one could make the case for the adrenal gland being in a state of 'hypo-function' and produces less than normal; but not yet abnormal amounts of hormones that are necessary for optimal quality of life.
JA. What are the most common causes of adrenal fatigue that you encounter with your patients?
· Good stress or bad stress.
· Inadequate nutrient repletion during stressful times
· Inadequate nutrient repletion with regalar exercise of moderate to high intensity
· Traumatic events
JA. What are some of the most common symptoms that you see?
- Fatigue, difficulty feeling rested despite adequate sleep.
- Low endurance and poor exercise tolerance (harder to recover from exercise or feel energized from it.
- Afternoon 'slumps' and maybe a second wind later at night.
- Sleep disturbances
- Overwhelmed/ cope less well with stress
- Low motivation-ambition
- Low sex drive
- · Cravings for caffeine/ sugar/salt
JA. What are the effects on an individual's body composition, energy levels, quality of life?
DNI. In adrenal hypo-function, a classic situation is stubborn body fat regardless of diet and exercise. You often have to work harder and consider it so unfair that other people see results without trying as hard as you. High stress affects the thyroid-cortisol-insulin hormonal triad. Whether you are in the gym working up a sweat for 60 minutes a day or meeting a deadline for work; your body's hormonal cascades are affected the same way. Higher cortisol raises your blood sugar; and insulin stores sugar as fat. To rectify, it requires a “re-setting” of your metabolism; changing the way your body responds to stress and enhancing the hormonal impact on energy and metabolism.
Energy: Cortisol is the hormone that sustains life. It gives you energy and mental clarity. It needs to be in good balance; not too high and not too low. Your body should change the amount according to what you are going through in a day. When you have adrenal deregulation, you may put out too much or less than what you need when you are under stress.
Quality of life:
Because of the mental and physical effects, adrenal fatiguers often avoid activities due to their need for more rest (often need to nap on weekends or sleep in); or they have lower drive and ambition. Their ability to enjoy things is diminished. Quality of life is impacted. Sex drive is a big one, and this is a no-brainer about how quality of life is affected!!!
JA. What are some supplements available to provide relief to this condition?
DNI. Vital nutrients are important. Often, adrenal fatiguers have poor digestion and absorption. Choose a high quality nutritional repletion program; free of fillers and additives. Vitamin B's, C, A and Eastern herbs like Ginseng; Rhodiola and Holy Basil are common. Choice of herbs depends if you have hypo-or hyperadrenalism.
Email email@example.com for a questionnaire that will help you determine what the best program is for you; and for medical dosing.
JA. What are some lifestyle choices that people can make to regulate this condition?
DNI. Manage stress! Choose wisely what you take on.
Some things are unavoidable; so remember that when you say 'yes' to one thing; you need to say 'no' to another! Meditation and yoga are 2 of my absolute favourite recommendations.
For me personally, stress is something that I have definitely become more mindful of. Being in the fitness industry requires some long hours as well as a lot of physical and mental output and I now know that being able to manage stress and find a healthy balance is what is going to allow me to do what I love for a long time to come. If you are experiencing any signs of adrenal fatigue I highly recommend using the information above and taking action with it. When it comes to exercise, I am a firm believer in what it can do to help reduce stress, but making the right decisions with your exercise will determine your outcome. Do not be afraid to alter your intensity if necessary as exercise is a physiological stress. Sometimes the high intensities may have to be substituted by some yoga or lower intensity movement. For any fitness pros out there, I recommend learning to read the people that you are working with. The ability to read the people that you are working with and adjust your exercise plans according to their circumstances will make the experience much more productive and enjoyable.