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Problem

Stress is everywhere. Chronic activation of our stress response erodes resilience to respond to stressors and depletes our metabolic reserve or long-term capacity of our body to respond to these changes. This contributes to chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and a shorter lifespan.

Who it affects?

Fatigue makes up more than 20% of all patient contacts in primary care or 18 million visits in the US. 75-90% of primary care visits have been reported to be stress related. Conventional medicine is often at a loss of how to care for these patients.

Symptoms

Morning exhaustion, energy crash after lunch, poor exercise recovery, recurrent infections, “second wind” at night, insomnia and sleep disturbances, low sex drive, poor memory, extra belly fat, salt cravings, hypothyroidism, sex hormone imbalances, skin rashes, decreased stressed tolerance, stimulating needed to get going, and the list goes on.

Research

“Adrenal Fatigue” is coined but a more accurate diagnostic label is termed: HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis D (dysregulation) or HPA-D for short. There are four primary triggers for HPA-D:

  • Perceived stress: Emotional and psychological stress.
  • Glycemic dysregulation: High and low blood sugar, or alternating between the two.
  • Circadian disruption: Sleep deprivation, too much light exposure at night, not enough exposure to day light, shift work, and frequent travel between time zones.
  • Inflammatory signaling: Inflammation caused by poor diet, physical inactivity or overtraining, gut dysfunction (SIBO, dysbiosis, gut infections, leaky gut, etc.), autoimmune disease, and many other modern sources of inflammation.

Solution

Balancing the HPA axis including dietary interventions and nutrition, but lifestyle interventions – sleep, stress management, rest, and pleasure – are paramount for successfully restoring HPA axis function.