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Get off the Exhaustion Coaster!

person cutting bell peppersDo you ever feel like you’re on a rollercoaster ride of energy and fatigue, ups and downs, day in and day out? This is an increasingly common health issue and one that can be extremely detrimental to daily life and mental and physical health. The epitome of “tired of being tired”. Chronic fatigue, exhaustion, energy crashes, need for coffee and caffeine to get and keep going. These are all warning signs that something more is going on with your body than you may realize.

Our adrenal glands are small glands that sit atop our kidneys, on both sides of our lower back. Adrenals play a crucial role in many aspects of life. They are typically regarded as stress organs. The organs that kick in to produce adrenaline and cortisol when we are in danger and need to fight off an attacker or run for our lives. This is a type of stress that has developed over millennia of adaptation and survival. When our body cues in on survival-dependent stresses, our senses are heightened, energy output increases, vision is up-regulated, muscles tense up, non-survival dependent bodily functions are decreased, blood flow increases to muscles and the fight for survival begins.

This is a perfect response and adaptation for when death is imminent and survival is paramount. However, we carry this tendency to be in this sympathetic state into our daily life. Our body doesn’t distinguish between potentially harmful types of stress when it is gearing up for survival. Whether it is emotional, physical, mental, or some other type of stress, our adrenals pump out adrenaline and cortisol to try to maintain survival.

While this is a vital response for our body, we often do things in our daily life that drive it to happen throughout the day, leading to continual physical stress and breakdown. We often don’t realize it, but one of the main stresses on the body comes from what we eat and drink. Eating and drinking are necessary parts of life, so it often goes unrecognized that they can have huge detriments to our bodies.
A key driver, and often overlooked issue with adrenal health, is how you control your blood sugar. Now, you may be thinking, I don’t have diabetes, so why would I care about blood sugar. Well, just like a fire alarm tells us when there is a fire, blood sugar levels can essentially ring an alarm for our body that something is wrong.

When blood sugar levels drop below normal, this is a stress on the body because our cells need constant fuel to function and survive. Blood sugar drops essentially “ring the alarm” that our survival is at risk. This stimulates the adrenal glands to respond by releasing adrenaline, which leads to the breakdown of sugar stores and hopefully the normalization of blood sugar. This is a normal response and a beautiful, intricate balancing act between blood sugar and adrenals.

However, this is where the rollercoaster ride can begin and your body can go off the rails. By eating and drinking the foods most consumed in modern society, full of sugar, unhealthy fats, and processed, our blood sugar levels begin a chronic up and down fluctuation that throws your body into a tailspin. When eating processed foods and foods high in sugar, large spikes in blood sugar levels can occur. To manage this, your body has to produce large amounts of insulin to lower those levels. This often happens quickly, to large degrees, causing insulin levels to overshoot normal and lower blood sugar, not only to normal but to abnormally low levels. In turn, we go back to the adrenal glands. This drop from high to low blood sugar simulates danger and stimulates adrenaline production from the adrenal glands to raise blood sugar levels. This, once again, causes large increases in blood sugar, in a short amount of time, in order to prepare for whatever your body thinks that it may be facing. Unfortunately, this often overshoots normal levels, once again, stimulating your body for the need of insulin to reduce blood sugar levels to normal. And on goes the vicious cycle. This is the devastating roller coast ride of daily exhaustion, fatigue, and a myriad of negative symptoms.

This constant up and down fluctuation of blood sugar levels and adrenal hormones produces significant health issues: fatigue, exhaustion, depression, brain fog, hormonal issues, etc.

In order to stop this process and get on the right track, it is critical to work to stabilize blood sugar levels and to not allow dramatic spikes and dips. In order to do this, there are a few things that will have drastic effects:

  • It is very important to eat good, healthy, whole foods that are not processed and high in sugar. This will help reduce excess blood sugar spikes and the cycle of blood sugar highs and lows.
  • Work to make sure that you eat throughout the day, and do not go longer than 2-3 hours without at least a small snack. This helps to limit blood sugar drops due to hypoglycemia and the setting off of our fatigue rollercoaster.

Doing these two things on a daily basis will have dramatic health effects on your body, and I am sure you will find great benefit from them in your life. While it may seem basic, this is one of the most important things I can advise you to do in order to stabilize your body and get you back on the right track to health. Getting off the rollercoaster of exhaustion is critical to a good life, and now is the time to take action toward doing so.

In Health and Wellness!

Dr. Dustin Campbell, D.C.

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