Changing your diet is one of the hardest things many people have to face after getting diagnosed with Celiac Disease. For a lot of people it's the solution to all their problems and fixes almost everything! But for others, like me, it's only one piece to the puzzle of finally starting to get better. My Adrenal Disorder is probably the one thing I have expressed the least on my blog but is actually the hardest thing I deal with each day. Some of you may know what the Adrenal Gland does but a majority of you probably do not. If you're thinking none of this information will really apply to you because you don't have an Adrenal Disorder, you're wrong. If you ever get a reaction from accidentally consuming gluten, then this can all apply to you in something called, Adrenal Fatigue. Hopefully I can give you a better idea of Celiac Disease and your Adrenal Gland and possibly give you some tips that can greatly help you when you get a reaction in the future.
What the Adrenal Gland does:
The Adrenal Gland is a small gland located above the kidneys that plays one of the key roles in the endocrine system. It helps regulate almost every normal bodily function, digestion, muscle movement, eyesight, memory, anything you can think of is affected by this gland. It is the main part of what keeps everything working properly throughout your daily life. Everyday it produces many different hormones, one of them being cortisol (commonly known as adrenaline), which is highest in the morning to get you going, and lowest at night. The hormones produced from the Adrenal Gland tell your brain when your body is under stress and needs to be working harder at certain points in your life or day. If you undergo to much stress your body stops producing enough of these hormones causing it to not know how to function properly and it begins to start shutting down these functions. This usually results in Adrenal Fatigue which is something many with Celiac Disease can experience and is something I will get into later on.
Symptoms you may have while going through Adrenal Fatigue:
- Excessive fatigue and exhaustion
- Low stamina
- Difficulty recovering from exercise
- Feeling run down
- Feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with stress
- Craving salty and sweet foods
- Feeling more energetic in the evening
- Waking up tired, even after a long night sleep
- Sleep disturbances
- Being slow to recover from stress, injury, or illness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Being highly susceptible to colds, flus, or illness
- Food or environmental allergies
- Premenstrual syndrome or unusually problematic menopause
- Consistent low blood pressure
- Extreme sensitivity to cold
My type of Adrenal Disorder:
While Adrenal Fatigue is something anyone can experience throughout life, an Adrenal Disorder is different. And when it comes to me, mine is definitely most unique. For most people with an Adrenal disorder, they are around the ages of 30-50..I'm 15. The small amount of people that have this disorder actually still have their adrenal gland functioning, but not well enough to live life normally. With me, my Adrenal Gland does not function at all and it would be impossible for me to live without medicine. I do not get any of the hormones from my Adrenal Gland that tells each body function how to work properly. Also since I am still growing and am still so young, my body is always changing, inside and out. This makes it a lot more difficult for my body to know how much medicine it needs since it is different each day. For the last couple years doctors have still been unable to figure out what caused or why I have this disorder. Since mine is so unique they do not have a name for it either. Figuring out why this happened so abruptly is something that will take time and will hopefully help anyone else with what I am going through some time in the future.
How it affects me every day:
Throughout my daily life I am much more affected by my Adrenal Disorder than I am with Celiac Disease. This is the one thing I have been most reserved about and the one thing many don't really know about me. Here is a brief list of what it affects and what normal has become for me.
- Medicine: At 3 specific times each day, I have to take many different types of medicine to replace what my Adrenal Gland should be producing. Even if I'm a little late to take it, it can throw off my cortisol levels and make me unable to function for the rest of the day. Physical and mental stress play a big role on how much medicine I have to take each day as well. I have to constantly be thinking about how I feel every hour of the day and think about how much medicine I should take next. This is something I'm getting used to but is obviously still hard to manage since the smallest thing can throw me off.
- Food: While being on a gluten and dairy free diet, there are many other foods I have to watch out for that affect how I feel. Hypoglycemia, (low blood sugar), is another thing I deal with because of this disorder. So watching out for fruits and foods high in glycemic index is critical. That means no tropical fruits or candies. And when I can have food with any type of sugar, it has to be at the end of the day so it doesn't drop my blood sugar in the morning. Blood sugar plays a major role on how my adrenal gland works and is something I really have to watch. This is the hardest thing to control since each thing I eat needs a specific combination to make sure I am not put under any more stress.
- Drinks: Caffeine, fruit juices, and alcohol is something I will never be able to drink. I don't really find it that big of a problem right now, but for the future...it might suck. Haha, but even the water I drink has to be monitored. The plastics my water comes in and the city pipes our water comes from is filled with chemicals that can damage my adrenal gland. That being said I am only able to drink filtered water and nothing else. I never really find this a big deal anyways!
- Exercise: This is the one thing that is truly affected most. I love exercising and being able to work out, but am usually unable to because it is such a big stress on my body. If I overwork myself, pretty much any normal bodily function is majorly impacted and takes days to recover. Usually the next day I am completely fatigued, unable to communicate, process, or talk properly. This is by far the thing that bothers me the most since I love being so active. It will take time for me to understand how I can work out without having problems, but I'll figure it out eventually!
- Socially: With Celiac Disease, we all deal with problems that affects our social life. Like most of you when I get sick and can't leave the house, it keeps me from being able to really interact with anyone. But when I do interact with people, I often have a much harder time doing so. If my adrenal levels are off, my brain can't process what someone said or process something for me to say back. Obviously it's going to make me look awkward at times because I'm unable to know what to say! A lot of the times this makes me unable to talk and carry even the simplest conversations. But on a good day I'm very talkative, love interacting with people, and can actually carry a conversation with out any problems. Because of all this, each person I first meet may have the wrong idea on who I really am. My closest friends I've been around for years really understand my situation and definitely understand me most.
- Stomach: When I undergo any type of stress, my body usually shuts down the least important bodily function to focus on the rest. Well with most people the body looks at the stomach and digestive system as the least important. (Like I didn't have enough problems with my stomach already..lol) Obviously I already have a lot of GI problems from Celiac so this just adds on. I become unable to digest food properly causing constipation, inflammation, etc. I still can't figure out whether I am having GI problems due to something else I'm allergic to, or if it just has to do with my disorder. Either way I find this more annoying then stressful to be honest.
Celiac Disease and Adrenal Disorders have been shown in studies to have a very close connection. If you have been on a gluten-free diet for a couple months and still feel very fatigued and have some of the symptoms that were listed above on a daily basis, getting your adrenal levels tested can be the solution to your problem like it was for me. Most of you will likely not have an Adrenal Disorder and will not have to worry about getting tested, but Adrenal Fatigue is something even the healthiest people in life experience. That being said, having Celiac Disease makes you much more likely to experience it more often than others. Like I said earlier, Adrenal Fatigue usually happens when your body undergoes mental or physical stress. Well with Celiac Disease, if you get a reaction to gluten you are putting your body under a major stress! Because of this your body works to focusing on the parts that need repaired and need the most help. Usually to help recover, the ability to break down foods and have your stomach work properly is reduced or shut down completely. After learning this it made total sense and was a real eye opener to me. A lot of this is probably making you wonder, "well, now that I know about it what can I do to fix it?" There are some natural things you can do and tips that I will list below.
What you can do to help with Adrenal Fatigue:
Whenever I want to recover from something, I want to do it as easily and as natural as possible. A lot of the things I have learned over the past year are all things you can do on your own. To make it easiest for you, I decided to put together a list of 3 natural and inexpensive things you should try if you feel like you are going through Adrenal Fatigue. Hope it helps!
1. Get these nutrients to help recover the quickest! (Listed below)
- Vitamin D has been shown to help boost energy levels and help with Adrenal Fatigue. You can eat foods high in Vitamin D but sunlight is actually shown to be more affective and I think much easier too. (I actually moved to Florida so I could get more sunlight and it's helped my energy a lot!)
- Sometimes I think the most stressful things in life are the situations you can't control. That being said you should definitely try your best to avoid the stress you can control. That means taking it easy and not trying to overwork yourself both mentally and physically is extremely important. You should know yourself best and know your limits.
Conclusion: Raising awareness for Adrenal Fatigue in Celiac's was by far the main goal of this post. But also giving you a look of what I go through and deal with every day with my Adrenal Disorder was something I wanted to include. If you do feel like you are going through Adrenal Fatigue from getting a bad reaction, just give the 3 things I suggested a try. The first tip is a natural thing you can do from just eating, and the last 2 are free! Honestly, what do you have do lose? I hope this helped give you a better idea of what my Adrenal Disorder is and I hope you try some of the tips I offered. It could really help you when you are going through a reaction and improve how you feel greatly. Thank you for reading and I hope this helps you in the future!