How much stress have you been dealing with this week? Is it the rip your hair out, scream at the top of your lungs kind of stress? Or the subtle, but very present sense of urgency and “not enough time to get everything done” kind of stress?

It’s just inevitable, isn’t it? Modern day living seems to come prepackaged with an unhealthy dose of stress. Considering that the average person has terrible nutrition, does little physical activity, is exposed to numerous toxins as well as stress and fatigue, it’s no wonder that sources say we are living the worst quality of life since the early 20th century.  

All of these challenges create the perfect storm for issues like adrenal fatigue. So, what causes adrenal fatigue? And really, what is it?

Adrenal fatigue happens when you experience physical, mental and emotional stress due to the “poor function” of the adrenal glands.

Ironically, our adrenal glands are only as big as a groundnut and weigh only as much as a grape, yet they are capable of maintaining one of the most significant functions of the human body: stress management. But it’s not as simple as just that—there’s a little bit more to it, and we’re going to dive into it now. 

What is Adrenal Fatigue? 

Adrenal fatigue isn’t your adrenals getting tired. Here, we like to refer to adrenal fatigue as another name– it’s root cause name: HPA axis dysregulation. Your HPA axis is your body’s stress system. HPA axis dysfunction is when the pituitary gland and hypothalamus downregulates the entire system by telling your adrenals to stop producing cortisol. This is a protective mechanism for your body, because too much cortisol leads to inflammation, aging, chronic stress, poor sleep, mood, nervous system dysfunction and a bunch of other things. 

The problem here is that most conventional doctors don’t recognize adrenal fatigue as real. But it is, it’s very real. Unless you have Addison’s disease or primary adrenal insufficiency or secondary adrenal insufficiency, (which is when your adrenals literally can’t produce cortisol) you are dismissed with no adrenal fatigue diagnosis and told to go on your way. But the problem is, adrenal fatigue eventually leads to a serious adrenal disorder if adrenal health is not prioritized and healed. If you believe you have adrenal fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome, keep reading. 


Adrenal glands produce hormones, like the cortisol hormone, or stress hormone, that assist our body in dealing with stress. If you’ve experienced too much stress it can compromise the function of your hormones and cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms.

Before we can go deeper on  what causes adrenal fatigue, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms. A symptom is just your body trying to tell you that it is out of balance or not receiving the kind of support it should. Here are common symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

Common Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms 
  • Unusual and unexplained chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty in handling stress
  • Feeling difficult to get up early in the morning
  • Mild depression
  • Cravings for salty, sugary and fatty foods
  • Craving for caffeine
  • Insomnia
  • Weak immune system
  • Anger, fear and anxiety
  • Increased allergies
  • Weakness in the muscles, muscle and bone loss
  • Skin issues
  • Hormone imbalance 
  • Out of whack cortisol production 
  • Menopausal symptoms or increased PMS
  • Lightheadedness when sitting, standing or lying down
  • Memory disruption
  • Hair fall out 
Other less-common symptoms include:
  • Dark circles in the face and just below the eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Asthma and respiratory complaints
  • Frequent urination
  • Low blood pressure
  • Back pain
  • Poor blood circulation and numbness in the fingers
  • Unusual weight gain

As you can tell from the name, the most evident symptom of adrenal fatigue is the feeling of being bogged down or not being able to live up to your daily demands, also called “unrelenting fatigue.” Fatigue, being a very common symptom, is often misdiagnosed even by the best doctors.

This is why functional health testing is so beneficial because it can give you an inside look into the body without guessing or speculating on what the root cause of the problem is.

So, what causes adrenal fatigue?

Causes of Adrenal Fatigue 

Remember, adrenal fatigue doesn’t happen instantly. Often, it occurs due to slow hormonal changes happening over a period of years. Therefore, if you are trying to determine the causes of adrenal fatigue, it is important to rewind your life a little bit and look at the full picture.

A traumatic emotional event or an accident that happened to you years ago could have been the start of  your adrenals taking a downward spiral. Even something exciting, like a having a baby, could be one of the causes of adrenal fatigue. Simply because your regular sleep rhythm is disrupted significantly while your body is also trying to balance hormones after just having a baby.

On that note, let’s have a look at the most common long-term causes of adrenal fatigue:

1- Perceived Stress 

By far, stress is the number one cause of adrenal fatigue and HPA axis dysfunction. It could be a heart-breaking relationship problem, a toxic friend or a long and horrible encounter with your boss or maybe relocating to a new place that you didn’t like. There could be numerous reasons.  

This kind of stress is low-grade; it makes you think that you can handle it in the short term, but it often has immense effects on your body and mind in the long term.

Fortunately, you have many ways to cope with this kind of stress, but one of the most obvious methods is to identify and eliminate the cause. But sometimes it’s not that simple. You can’t just “get rid of” your spouse, or your boss or your screaming kids. You have to find a way to “deal” in the moment in a way that is appropriate.

Deep breathing – especially with the use of calming essential oils like Lavender is a favorite strategy that is easily accessible no matter where you are. You simply add a drop of essential oil to the palm of one hand, rub your palms together to combine, cup your hands over your nose and inhale deeply several times. You will feel relaxation wash over you instantly.

Other strategies for dealing with emotional stress are to journal, talk to a friend, do yoga, take a relaxing bath or get a massage. Give yourself time to have breaks and to rejuvenate and you’ll be more balanced and less stressed in no time. This is hugely beneficial for your adrenals and for preventing adrenal fatigue from happening in the first place.

2 – Diet 

We eat more sugar today than in the history of mankind. In the past 200 years in the US alone, the intake of sugar by an average adult has increased from 1-2 lbs per year to more than 150 lbs. a year. POUNDS per year, you say? Um…yes. It’s bad. Very bad.

Our genetics have never changed all these years. So how are we going to cope with the intake of these empty calories? We have simply contributed to our own hormonal imbalance and this is just another key insight into what causes adrenal fatigue. As we eat more and more sugar, we also produce extra insulin and cortisol, putting more stress on the adrenals and pancreas.

Are you surprised? Probably not really. It’s just too easy to over consume sugar these days. It’s everywhere – it’s in the not so obvious places, like “healthy” smoothies and protein bars and all of the processed foods that we find in the grocery aisles- even at stores like Whole Foods! But it gets better.

There is yet another connection between adrenal fatigue and the intake of sugar. Too much sugar can make you obese, and that’s an obvious thing. But did you know that obesity can cause adrenal fatigue, too?

Imagine the amount of stress on your body from the excessive weight. But to add insult to injury, your adrenals get hammered too.  

In this case, a change to your nutrition is paramount. Here are a couple nutrition rules to follow:

  1. prioritize whole, nutrient rich foods
  2. consume a balanced meal 3 times a day with protein, fiber, healthy fat, and lots of vegetables/ complex carbs 
  3. always eat breakfast 
  4. balance blood sugar with healthy fats, and do not drink black coffee for breakfast! 
  5. hydrate with properly mineralized water 
  6. prioritize gut health with a good supplement like collagen 

When you prioritize healthy whole foods, gut health, and stabilized blood sugar, not only will you start to feel more energized, like you can actually be productive during your workday, but you’ll also have the energy at the end of it to do what you want to do!

Whether it’s playing with your kids, going to the gym or working on a project or hobby that you’re passionate about. Your energy is the key to your vibrance in life. Preserve it and you will live to the fullest extent, always experiencing more!

3- Disrupted Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Dysfunction 

When you have adrenal fatigue, cortisol levels are out of whack. In the morning, cortisol levels typically rise and give us energy—it’s a natural part of the circadian rhythm. But when you have adrenal fatigue, cortisol production happens backwards. It rises at night, which is why you may get that tired but wired feeling. Getting our circadian rhythm back on track with restful sleep is essential. 

Our ancestors enjoyed nine hours of restful sleep every night, and here we are struggling to get even half of that. Like emotional stress, there are so many reasons for insufficient sleep. Poor work-life balance, relationship issues, illness, loneliness, a new baby (or a teething baby) and the reasons go on and on. These are more contributing factors to what causes adrenal fatigue.

I have 4 children, and one child that just turned 1, so that means I wake up early every morning. And only the last 6 months I’ve actually been getting to sleep through the night. They wake up early on the weekends. And even on my birthday.  It’s just the way it is!

So, I know a thing or two about rebuilding your adrenals and balancing hormones. There’s no way I’d be able to run our businesses without having the energy to be productive at the times when I really need to focus. Before I chose to live the high performance lifestyle I was just like the typical American.

On average Americans sleep just 6.1 hours every night. This is already bad. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours each night. And to function well off of 7 hours, you’ve got to have your ducks lined in a row. Eating clean, exercising, de-stressing, taking care of yourself at a high level.

The truth is, your body needs a long and restful sleep to repair and restore itself. The body has an extraordinary ability to heal itself. But the thing is, it needs enough time and rest to work its magic. So, make sure you sleep for seven to eight hours, at least, or you might find yourself suffering from adrenal fatigue.  

Prioritize quality sleep by going to bed when you are tired. Do not miss the angel train! You don’t want to stay up to the point of feeling tired but wired. Set up a non-negotiable nighttime routine. This can include reading, journaling, meditating, self-massage, taking a bath, talking with your partner. And whatever you do, try and do it without blue light (or at least where blue light blocking glasses). 

4- Toxic Load

Toxins are present in our foods, chlorines in water, pollutants in the air, pesticides in the vegetables and antibiotics in meat. It’s even in our makeup and personal care! Toxins are everywhere.

According to estimates, about two thousand chemicals are brought into the consumer marketplace every year through foods and other products. Toxins and chemicals that we unknowingly load into our body can fuel the fire for serious health conditions like heart diseases, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Even if you don’t show symptoms of any of these conditions, the toxins present in your body could affect you materially, impacting your immune system, your digestion, and the overall quality of your life.

So, how does it take on the adrenals? Specifically, hormone disrupting chemicals and ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products can interfere with healthy adrenal function. Your body can handle a certain amount of toxic load on it’s own, but constant exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals for long periods of time can definitely be a contributing factor for adrenal fatigue.

This is one of the reasons why we made our Superfood Supplement formulas, and specifically our Hydration Superfood Energy. This product was created for daily use and detox. Say goodbye to a heavy toxic load and hello to nutrient dense deliciousness. Beyond that, our refreshing superfood powder also contains a boat load of antioxidants, which are necessary for fighting inflammation and radical damage caused by stress! It’s a perfect adrenal fatigue cocktail. 

If you can relate to any of the 4 factors that cause adrenal fatigue, then you need a plan to get yourself back on track. Depending on how long you’ve been suffering from fatigue and low energy, you could already be in the advanced stages of adrenal fatigue. And the sooner you do something about it, the better! We designed our supplement line to fill in the gaps and help you heal from adrenal fatigue, low energy, and hormonal imbalances. Shop the line here.  Let me know in the comments why you want to heal and regain energy!

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