For months, I have been studying adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism and hormone imbalances. I have been convinced that I have some type of hormonal imbalance because I have so many of the common symptoms, but I was never quite sure which hormone was causing the problem, why it was happening or what I could do about it.
The human body is made up of a complex system of hormones that operate much like an orchestra. When one is out of balance or not operating properly, it can throw everything out of whack, just as one out of tune instrument can screw up a symphony. The adrenal glands sit just above the kidneys. They help maintain water balance and regulate energy levels, among other things. They also secrete hormones, including cortisol. Cortisol is commonly known as the stress hormone and is responsible for the “fight or flight” response you feel when you are scared or stressed out. When your adrenal glands are constantly being overworked, it can cause adrenal fatigue. (Also, the adrenals and the thyroid are like partners in crime. Often, thyroid problems can be mistaken for adrenal problems and vice versa).
Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue are:
- Cravings for sugar
- Cravings for salt on food when you eat
- Feel dehydrated and thirsty and require plenty of water
- Difficulty falling asleep at night, sleep lightly or wake early or often
- Difficulty relaxing, nervous, anxious or hyperactive
- Often spacey, or foggy thinking, even memory loss
- Lack willpower to accomplish
- General exhaustion
- Hormone imbalances
- Low libido
- Weight gain, especially in abdomen and waist area
- Losing muscle tone
- Sagging skin, dry, yellow or pale in color
- Hair starting to gray, thin out and become dry
- Lips losing their color
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- High blood sugar
So what causes the adrenal glands to be overworked? Several things, including:
- Processed foods
- Too much animal protein
I’m sure by now we are all aware of the negative effects sugar, coffee, processed foods and soda have on our bodies, so those causes don’t seem surprising. Stress and drugs are an obvious cause of adrenal fatigue due to the nature of hormones and how they operate. But animal protein? That seems odd. How does that work?
Basically, a diet high in animal protein makes your insides really acidic. Most people don’t have enough acid in their stomachs to digest the amount of animal protein they consume. This throws off the pH balance in your body. As a result, the digestive, immune and hormonal systems are all aggravated. This is what causes the above symptoms and can also make us more prone to illness from viruses and bacteria.
I have yet to find a set limit on the amount of animal protein one should consume in a day or week. What I do know is that according to a lot of research done regarding health problems, most people consume way too much. Bodybuilders and athletes can consume as much as 300 g or more per day! I know that when I was training, I ate animal protein 5-6x a day (about 110-130g daily) and it was enough to cause me nearly every symptom of adrenal fatigue, including severe depression, anxiety and sleep problems.
If you are already showing signs of adrenal fatigue, it is a good idea to cut down drastically, if not completely eliminate, meat protein from your diet.