Your Flu Might Be Adrenal Fatigue
If the CDC is right, this will be the worst flu season in history… Just like the year before.. And the year before…. And the year before…
How does the flu keep getting worse?
Is the flu getting stronger or are we getting weaker?
Most likely the truth lies somewhere between the 2
OR the truth of the flu numbers has nothing to do with the flu in the first place!
How does one have the flu and not have the flu?
Look at the flu as adrenal fatigue and all your flu prevention dreams come true,
Even without a flu shot!
Flu season is as guaranteed to happen as death and taxes.
I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a flu season.
The flu season typically goes from October to May and peaks between December-February.
I think most people forget that during this time of year there are other diseases still doing their disease thing.
Most other airborne diseases like the Measles, Mumps, and Chicken Pox are more distinct and once your immune system makes contact, as in a vaccine or prior exposure, you’re in the clear.
But the flu is fairly vague and although you have “flu-like” symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have the flu.
Flu Symptoms include:
- Sore Throat
- Muscle and Body aches
You can ask your doctor to test you for the flu, but the tests themselves can be deceiving.
There are several your doctor can perform including a rapid molecular assay or a rapid influenza diagnostic test. Both of these tests can get you results in less than 20 minutes but have been noted for their inaccuracies.
These flu tests are guilty of both false-positive and false-negative diagnoses in upwards of 50-70% of cases. (3)
These misdiagnoses are so common that many times doctors opt not even to use them.
While this saves the patient and their insurance some money, the doctor will still just treat the symptoms.
Treatments can include Advil and Tylenol for body aches, nasal decongestants, sore throat relievers, steroids or antibiotics.
Be mindful of the ingredients that go into whatever medication your taking.
Chemicals like acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol can damage the detox capabilities of your liver
The doctor will also probably advise you stay home, rest, drink lots of fluids, and get lots of vitamin C.
Coincidentally, this is also how you treat adrenal fatigue. Funny how that works.
What Is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue, also referred to as non-Addison’s Hypoadrenia is a deficiency in the functioning of the adrenal glands.
This is the best way to describe a medical condition that the medical industry refuses to acknowledge.
Hypoadrenia happens when your adrenals don’t produce enough cortisol or other adrenal hormones like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and aldosterone.
These hormones aid your body’s day to day functions.
Many of these hormones help keep your body in homeostasis through blood sugar regulation, detoxification, and immune response.
ADRENAL FATIGUE SYMPTOMS:
- Extreme fatigue
- Arthritic pain
- Decreased immunity
- Premenstrual tension and menopause difficulty (Women)
- Memory lapses
- Sleep problems
Most medical professionals work according to binary biomarkers. You’re either A or your B.
You either have Addison’s hypoadrenia or you’re just tired.
Point being, if you don’t have Addison’s Hypoadrenia than you will not be treated for adrenal fatigue.
Addison’s disease, aka hypoadrenocorticism, aka hypoadrenia is the most severe form of adrenal insufficiency.
The Mayo Clinic defines Addison’s as:
“Addison’s disease, also called adrenal insufficiency, is an uncommon disorder that occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones. In Addison’s disease, your adrenal glands, located just above your kidneys, produce too little cortisol and, often, too little aldosterone.” (1)
While Addison’s can be described as EXTREME Adrenal Fatigue, most of the time it’s actually caused by autoimmunity.
In this case, you would treat Addison’s differently than typical Adrenal fatigue as you would want to focus more on treating the immune system than treating the adrenals.
This would include more of a focus on gut health than adrenal health. Although good gut health can support good adrenal function.
Symptoms of Addison’s Disease:
- Extreme fatigue
- Weight Loss
- Decreased Appetite
- Low Blood Pressure, fainting
- Low blood sugar
- Joint Pain
It’s even possible to specifically diagnose Addison’s.
A doctor can run a number of tests to determine whether or not you have the biomarkers for Addison’s.
These tests include a blood test to measure your blood levels of sodium, potassium, cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Blood testing can also measure your level of antibodies pertaining to Addison’s as autoimmunity.
You can do an ACTH test specifically to measure how much cortisol is in your blood once your adrenals are stimulated with ACTH.
Both of these modes of testing will give you a reading on how vital your adrenals are.
But you either have Addison’s or you don’t.
If you don’t, your doctor will not then treat you for Adrenal Fatigue.
They may even tell you it’s the flu!
Is Adrenal Fatigue Common?
Maybe you noticed in the Mayo Clinic’s definition of Addison’s Disease that the word “uncommon” came up in regards to adrenal insufficiency.
Addison’s could be considered uncommon since it only appears in 1/100,000 people.
However, adrenal insufficiency is VERY common.
I would guess that most people living any form of a western lifestyle are experiencing a form of adrenal insufficiency.
Between daily stress and a highly processed-food-centric diet, most people’s adrenals are most likely overburdened.
Remember too that stress itself comes in many different forms whether physical or emotional.
- Money and debt
- Social Media
- Toxic air/water/food
While these are not immediate emergencies, they are little stresses that add up throughout the day and force your adrenal glands to produce cortisol.
Overproduction of cortisol can lead to adrenal insufficiency.
Your adrenals can only work to secrete so much cortisol. At some point, they need a break, like any other organ in your body.
Think if you had to do 1000 pushups every day just to feel normal.
Eventually, your chest, shoulders, and triceps would give out and you couldn’t do any more pushups.
The adrenal glands only have so much effort they can exert to match your cortisol needs.
And then they start to crash.
If you’re stressing emotionally, physically, and/or eating a crap diet, your adrenal glands will start to give out.
Cortisol is what is getting you out of bed, and keeping you alert.
It’s also what boosts your immune system when your immunity is weak.
It steps in when you’re hungry and hypoglycemic.
It charges you up when you read some bulls-t on social media.
In every one of these instances, your adrenals are exerting effort and working towards failure.
Is Adrenal Fatigue Real?
Although not an official medical diagnosis, adrenal fatigue is absolutely real.
The adrenals are real glands located on top of your kidneys that produce real hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and aldosterone.
Adrenals are controlled through the HPA axis.
The hypothalamus directs the anterior pituitary through Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) when it senses stress through the central nervous system or low blood glucose. (5)
The pituitary gland will then deliver adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) to the adrenal glands to secrete whatever hormone is necessary for the body at that time.
These hormones are what give us life and are influential to how we feel throughout the day.
The hypothalamus acts as a thermostat throughout the day and night to regulate the body’s hormonal release.
The adrenals are like any other organ or muscle in the body. It can wear down over time due to overuse.
Just like an overactive pancreas and insulin receptors can lead to insulin resistance, so to can an overactive adrenal gland fail to produce adequate amounts of life-sustaining hormones.
The worst part about discussing a serious medical condition that the medical industry refuses to acknowledge is seeing it be manipulated into other conditions.
For example, if you go to your doctor complaining about fatigue, body weakness, irritability, and blood sugar swings they may diagnose you with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or Cushing’s Syndrome.
They may send you for more tests for hypothyroidism, polymyalgia rheumatica, or ankylosing spondylitis. All of which can be expensive, time consuming, and totally unnecessary.
These conditions cause patients a lot of confusion and worry which can make adrenal fatigue even worse.
Not to mention, the one disease that is most closely related to adrenal fatigue, Addison’s disease, has much more stringent diagnosing criteria because it can be autoimmune.
Your adrenal hypofunction has to be so severe that by the time you get diagnosed with Addison’s it could be too late. (6)
Bottom line: When you have adrenal fatigue, you will feel sick, ill, and tired… kind of like the flu.
Adrenals Help Boost The Immune System
When it comes to your boosting immune system, it’s important to be mindful of your adrenal glands.
The production of cortisol has a direct correlation to the production of white blood cells. (7)
The more cortisol secreted, the more leukocytes and white blood cells are produced.
This shows that your body relies on the proper adrenal function to support the immune system. (9)
If you’re adrenals are not able to keep up with the demands of an overburdoned immune system, than you would most likely start to feel sick.
Glucocorticoids, whether produced from the adrenal glands or given synthetically has anti-inflammatory effects. (8)
On the other hand, sugar and other sweeteners tends to weaken the immune system. (10)
Sugar also weakens the adrenals by over producing cortisol to support hypoglycemia and by utilizing the same nutrients in metabolism the adrenals need to function properly.
How To Recover From Adrenal Fatigue
Recovering from adrenal fatigue is not easy and it’s not immediate.
You must have patience when it comes to dealing with the adrenals.
Keeping yourself in a calm, meditative, parasympathetic state is really the only way to fully recover from adrenal fatigue.
This can last weeks, months, and for a lot of people even years.
One of the biggest challenges of recovering from adrenal fatigue is to not stress that you have adrenal fatigue.
This stress of imperfection piles onto the other stresses and makes recovery more difficult.
Once you’re fully committed to recovery, you will notice small changes over time like improved sleep, weight loss, less getting sick, and improvements in the skin.
To aid in your recovery I recommend a focus on sleep, diet, supplements, and movement.
Sleep To Heal Adrenals
While everyone’s sleep requirements are different and bioindividual, a good starting point is to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Do everything you have to do to make this happen. Keep your room dark and cool, turn off all your screens at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
Also, try to have a set bedtime.
The adrenal glands work with our circadian rhythm so the more you can program yourself to fall asleep at the same time every night, the better your sleep will be.
Being outside without sunglasses during the daytime also helps your circadian rhythm.
Adrenal Fatigue Diet
Diet and supplementation will be where you get your biggest adrenal boosts.
The health of your adrenals will be a reflection on your overall health and well being.
If you eat garbage, especially processed food and refined sugar, than your adrenals will secrete more cortisol.
These foods not only put more stress on the body but also utilize all the nutrients that go into feeding the adrenal glands.
Food To Heal Adrenals
Adrenal friendly food will be anything low in sugar, grains, and starch.
Each of these will spike your insulin and make a call to the adrenals to secrete cortisol.
You want the foods you eat to be as low on the glycemic index as possible.
Donate your boxed cereals, 7-grain bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice to the break room.
You’re going to want to avoid these and other processed, high glycemic foods as much as possible.
The only way to heal your adrenals is to keep them from working. Let them go on vacation, and train them to be there only for real stress.
Eating food should be a calming, nourishing experience, not a 4-alarm emergency.
As far as macronutrients go, fat and protein are your friends.
A higher fat diet with a moderate amount of protein will suffice.
While I’m not advocating for a keto diet specifically, the closer you get to a keto diet, the more your adrenals will love you.
Protein is great as well, but protein can be broken down into glucose through gluconeogenesis and that can be a tax to your adrenals.
Some foods that are great for your adrenals include:
- Fatty cuts of red meat
- Coconut oil
- All Vegetables
- Most fresh fruits (not dried and pre-packaged.. Also limit to 1-2 pieces per day)
- Butter and full fat dairy
One of the biggest nutrient deficiencies in America is dehydration.
Water is a nutrient and it may be the most important nutrient we consume.
Standard water consumption recommendations are typically calculated by taking your body weight and dividing by 2. This is the amount of water you want to drink in ounces.
Of course, this is also bioindividual. However, err on the side of drinking more water.
Failure to drink enough water leads to dehydration and dehydration is a stress.
It weakens the body in many different ways and the adrenals are called upon to keep us strong.
To avoid calling on the adrenals then you need to stay adequately hydrated.
This also means avoiding, or cutting back on diuretic beverages like:
- Soda (even club soda)
- Fruit juices (even juiced from fresh fruits and veggies add a hefty dose of sugar)
- Coffee (sorry)
- Alcohol (double sorry)
Every diuretic beverage actually uses water from your body to process it through the kidneys.
Not to mention many beverages like soda, fruit juices, and alcohol are loaded with sugar and you know what that leads to —-> CORTISOL!
If you do drink one of these diuretic beverages you want to add 12-16 ounces of water to your daily total for every 8 ounces of diuretic.
There are a number of vitamins and minerals you want to have a lot of in your diet to optimize your adrenals.
Nutrients that will help heal your adrenals include:
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Good fats will also be very beneficial to your adrenals because fatty acids help build your prostaglandin pathways which control your inflammation.
Inflammation is one of the biggest contributors to stress and certainly tax the adrenals.
Daily movement is also going to be very beneficial to your adrenal health.
Anything from light to moderate exercise helps to relieve stress. These workouts can include:
- Workout classes
- Playing sports
Intense exercise can be a little more taxing on the adrenals.
I would not discourage anyone from pushing themselves in any athletic endeavor, however, the body can see regular intense exercise as a stress.
Some people’s body’s even release insulin during high intensity workouts or competitions.
Be mindful of your body’s abilities when exercising.
Do You Really Have The Flu?
Because I’m not a doctor I have to always advise you to consult your physician when it comes to diagnosing illness.
But, what I do at hope you’ve taken from this article is that many of the symptoms that you may assume means the flu, may not be the flu at all.
It’s easy in our modern world to feel run down. This run down feeling is your body actually telling you to slow down and treat it right.
Even if it is the flu, your body still needs you to stop and relax.
Even after all the trillions of dollars that have gone into healthcare, rest, relaxation, and a low sugar diet are still the only proven medical ways to overcome the flu.
…. And adrenal fatigue
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3636818/ – Addison’s Disease
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/diagnosis/rapidlab.htm – False Positives for the rapid influenza diagnostic test
https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20190109/is-it-flu-or-flu-like-its-miserable-either-way – Flu Symptoms