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Reader’s Digestion: The Ins and Outs of Your Wonderful Guts


Reader’s Digestion: The Ins and Outs of Your Wonderful Guts

Your gastrointestinal (GI) system–also known as the digestive system–is a highly organized system of components that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, rectum and anus. These organs work together to break food down into sugars, amino acids, fatty acids, and other simple molecules that power the body and all of its amazing processes. Basically, digestion is life.

How Does the Digestive System Work?

Here are the stages of food digestion:

  1. diagram of the digestive systemFood enters the body through the mouth via the delicious act known as eating. Here, food is prepared for digestion by chewing (one reason why it’s important to chew your food well). There are also enzymes in your saliva that help start the digestion process.
  2. Swallowing sends food from the mouth to the esophagus, which uses a series of muscular contractions known as peristalsis to move food to the stomach.
  3. The stomach uses acids and enzymes to convert food into a thick semi-liquid form called chyme (from the Greek word for juice). The stomach then expels the chyme into the small intestine. When ready, food is passed to the small intestine for absorption.
  4. The small intestine is where nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream for your body’s use. The pancreas, liver, and gallbladder help by excreting enzymes and hormones that break down the chyme into bits small enough to be absorbed.
  5. What remains is passed along to the large intestine, where it is converted into solid waste with the help of bacteria. Water and salts are extracted from any undigested food.
  6. Waste is transported by the rectum, which connects the large intestine to the anus. Your rectum acts as a holding facility and sends a message to the brain, letting you know you have to go. The “end product” is expelled through the anus.

When Good Digestion Goes Bad

bad bacteria illustration by Don SmithThe glorious symphony that is food digestion doesn’t always happen without a hitch. Illnesses, conditions and lifestyle factors can disrupt proper digestion and lead to further problems, such as GI distress (diarrhea, constipation, pain and bloating), malabsorption, stomach discomfort and ulcers.

Here are some causes of a compromised digestive system:

  • Poor diet – A diet that is deficient in essential nutrients affects the digestive system’s ability to function effectively and can lead to many chronic conditions.
  • Overuse of antibiotics – Antibiotics kill both “good” and “bad” bacteria, leading to an imbalance in vital intestinal flora. If the good bacteria (often called probiotics) are not restored the bad bacteria will take over, leading to a poorly functioning gut and immune system.
  • Chronic infections – An overgrowth of bacteria (like H. pylori) or fungi (like Candida yeast) can aggravate chronic conditions and contribute to malabsorption of vital vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  • Food intolerances – Food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities can all lead to digestive woes. Identifying and eliminating foods that cause unsavory reactions will help.
  • Stress – Chronic stress and negative thinking can literally upset your digestive system. Over time, stress can cause serious damage to your guts, leading to things like ulcers and hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid).
  • Lack of digestive enzymes – Without the right combination of digestive enzymes, food can’t be broken down efficiently, which leads to vitamin, mineral, and amino acid deficiencies.
  • Low hydrochloric acid (HCL) – A low output of HCL (aka hypochlorhydria) can lead to bacterial and yeast overgrowth, which aggravates many chronic conditions.

Tips to Support Your Digestive System


  • fruit and vegetable collage by Flickr user Penn StateFocus on nutrient-dense, natural whole foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, meats and nuts).
  • Increase your intake of saturated fats and omega fatty acids from good sources like fish, nuts, seeds and healthier oils.
  • Include high-fiber foods like flax seed, raspberries, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
  • Avoid nutritional deficiencies by complementing nutrient-dense foods with quality supplementation.
  • Avoid eating before bedtime. Going to bed with food in your stomach can tax your digestive system; it needs rest too!
  • Chew your food well, and take your time when eating. Avoid rushed meals.
  • Aim for smaller meals and snacks spread throughout the day.
  • Drink plenty of water during and in between meals.

Avoid these foods that can irritate the digestive system:

  • fast food burger and fries by Flickr user SteFou!Alcoholic beverages
  • Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and soft drinks
  • Dairy products
  • Foods that contain gluten
  • Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners
  • Nitrites and nitrates found in processed foods such as hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG), the infamous flavor additive
  • Hydrogenated oils found in many processed and deep fried foods
  • Junk and fast foods – just say no


  • Probiotics to help balance gut bacteria and promote regularity
  • Digestive enzymes to improve digestion and breakdown of food
  • Vitamins and minerals, especially magnesium, calcium, vitamin C and other antioxidants, and a B complex
  • Omega-3 fish oil
  • Activated charcoal to help eliminate gut toxins
  • Betaine HCL with pepsin to promote healthy levels of stomach acid
  • Natural fibers such as psyllium, oat bran, rice bran, prunes, ginger, fenugreek seed and vegetable cellulose help restore normal intestinal mobility
  • Mastic gum, MSM, licorice and glycine are anti-inflammatory and may help to soothe and protect irritated digestive tracts


A sedentary lifestyle can slow down the digestive process. A brisk walk is the perfect exercise for encouraging healthy bowel movements. Furthermore, an outdoor stroll is a great way to manage stress, reduce anxiety, and take in much needed sunlight (and thus Vitamin D).

Stress Management:
For general stress management, try to get one relaxing activity in each day. Pick something you’ll actually enjoy, but won’t cause additional stress. Some good options are yoga, tai chi, meditation, massage, swimming and walking. More stress management tips can be found here.

Image Credits: Diagram of digestive system via Wikipedia Commons under Public Domain; Vegetable and fruit collage by Flickr user Penn State; fast food burger and fries by Flickr user SteFou!

Dr Eric Bakker, NZ naturopathic physicianAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 27 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida, psoriasis, as well as adrenal fatigue, thyroid and digestive disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. He has also written what may well be the most comprehensive Natural Psoriasis Treatment Program available. You can find more articles by Dr. Bakker on his blog at www.ericbakker.com


1)Anatomy of the Digestive System. EMedicine Consumer Health  http//:www.emedicinehealth.com/resources/40933-6.asp

2) Johnson, D.R. “Introductory Anatomy: Digestive System.” Centre for Human Biology, UK
Accessed May 2005.

3) “Consequences of Poor Diet.” Diagnose-Me
Accessed May 2005

4) “Poor Diet, Lack of Exercise as Lethal as Smoking.” American Cancer Society
Accessed May 2005

5) “Acidophilus Effects, Benefits and Other Information”
Accessed May 2005

6) “Helicobacter Pylori: The Treatable Cause of Ulcer and Gastric Cancers”
Accessed May 2005

7) “Celiac Disease”
Accessed May 2005

8) “Lactose Intolerance.” NDDIC
Accessed May 2005

9) “Stress and Your Health”
Accessed May 2005

10) “Heavy Metal Toxicity.” Diagnose-Me
Accessed May 2005

11) “Reversing Hypochlorhdyria”
Accessed May 2005


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Syndrome X, AKA Metabolic Syndrome, AKA Bad News

Syndrome X, AKA Metabolic Syndrome, AKA Bad News

Syndrome X sounds like a disease from a sci-fi movie—something unleashed by a sinister villain to wipe out humanity. While not exactly true, Syndrome X (more widely known as metabolic syndrome) is scary stuff. This condition is a culmination of symptoms, and is typically diagnosed when three or more of the following are present: high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, low HDL levels and high blood triglycerides.

Signs and Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

couple on bench by Flickr user Tony AlterYour BMI (body mass index) is often used to assess your risk of metabolic syndrome. The simple formula for determining BMI is your height divided by your weight squared. A BMI of more than 25 means you are overweight, while a BMI of more than 30 puts you in the obese category. The National Institute of Health has a BMI tool you can use to determine your score, which you can access here.

Like many general indicators, your BMI score may be taken with a grain of salt. For example, if you are of Asian descent, a BMI score of 21 or higher can be problematic. Many studies argue that your waist circumference should also be taken in account when assessing risk of metabolic syndrome and/or cardiovascular disease. Measuring waist circumference and blood triglyceride levels may predict metabolic syndrome even to a higher degree.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

  • Fatigue right after a high carbohydrate meal
  • High blood sugar and cortisol levels
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol levels
  • High levels of albumin in the urine. A microalbumin urine test measures the amount of albumin, a protein, in the urine. Albumin is not normally present in urine because it is retained in the bloodstream by your kidneys.
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Difficulty concentrating (“brain fog”)
  • Weight gain in the gut area and/or an apple-shaped physique
  • GI distress, including bloating, flatulence, constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Mild depression not necessarily attributed to life events
  • Erectile dysfunction

If left unchecked metabolic syndrome will progress, leading to more serious conditions, namely diabetes and heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is a disease of the modern fast food era, brought on by inadequate lifestyles and diets. Refined carbohydrates, soda, white bread, and processed foods, combined with an increasingly sedentary society, has lead to an alarming increase in metabolic syndrome. In fact, a recent study shows that more than a third of Americans are affected by metabolic syndrome.

Typical Progression of Metabolic Syndrome  

  1. Insulin resistance (develops in childhood)
  2. Cholesterol problems (between 15 – 35 years of age)
  3. High blood pressure (between 35 – 50 years of age)
  4. Impaired fasting glucose (between 40 – 55 years of age)
  5. Diabetes (between 50 – 55 years of age)
  6. Cardiovascular disease (55+)

The Connection Between Metabolic Syndrome and Adrenal Function

diagram of kidneys and adrenal glandsThe adrenal stress hormone cortisol is the primary instigator of the physiological changes that occur with stress, and in the process it interacts with other hormones like insulin. Cortisol and insulin work together to increase energy, but have opposite effects on blood sugar. Cortisol raises blood sugar by triggering the conversion of stored energy (glycogen) into glucose (blood sugar). Glucose is the source of energy used by most cells in the body. Insulin helps move the glucose from the blood stream into the cells, thus lowering blood sugar. When cortisol goes up (as it does during stress), blood sugar goes up; and when blood sugar goes up, insulin does too. However, when insulin is high too often or for too long, the cells develop insulin resistance. This means they become less sensitive to the effects of insulin in order to protect themselves from the harmful effects of too much glucose.

With less glucose getting into the cells, the resulting elevated blood sugar triggers increased insulin, further aggravating insulin resistance. In addition, less glucose in the cells triggers hunger, which often translates into cravings for carbohydrates. Both a diet high in refined carbohydrates and the elevated cortisol levels from frequent stress can produce a vicious cycle of insulin resistance. When chronic stress and poor diet combine with a sedentary lifestyle, they become an irresistible force driving the body, over time, towards metabolic syndrome and a variety of related health problems, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Key Differences Between Metabolic Syndrome and Adrenal Fatigue

Metabolic Syndrome

  • High cortisol and aldosterone levels
  • High sodium levels
  • Low levels of potassium
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Fluid retention
  • Abdominal fat
  • High blood pressure

Adrenal Fatigue

  • Low cortisol and aldosterone levels
  • Low sodium levels
  • High levels of potassium
  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Mild dehydration
  • Affects any body shape; possible undesired weight loss
  • Low blood pressure

Tips to Avoid or Manage Metabolic Syndrome

Diet Tips

  • Eat meals consisting of whole natural foods as often as possible. Avoid meals that come from a box or can, and stay away from fast food. It is well worth your time to prepare your own meals. There is a joy to be had in cooking actual food, in addition to the great health benefits.

    fast food burger and fries by Flickr user SteFou!

    It’s not great for anyone, but fast food is a big no-no for those with metabolic syndrome.

  • Minimize foods high in carbohydrates.
  • Eat foods low on the glycemic index (You can find a searchable glycemic index here).
  • Eat foods high in omega 3 fatty acids (You can find a list of foods here).
  • Try to incorporate lean protein (both plant- and animal-based) into every meal and snack.
  • Avoid foods high in trans-fat, and those made with hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils (processed foods).
  • Eliminate caffeine (especially sugary coffee concoctions and energy drinks) and junk foods (Remember: garbage in, garbage out!).
  • Eat small regular meals.
  • Avoid foods that elevate insulin or blood sugar.
  • Avoid overeating and eating when you’re not hungry (ie stress eating).

Exercise Tips

Exercising 30-40 minutes a day helps normalize cortisol, insulin and blood sugar, and can also reduce belly fat. Combine the following:

  • Aerobic (vigorous walking, jogging, swimming,
    dancing, Zoomba)
  • Anaerobic (weights, isotonic, Pilates)
  • Flexibility (yoga, stretching, tai chi)

Supplement Support

Having the right kind of supplemental support in addition to following the dietary, lifestyle and exercise guidelines described can significantly enhance your ability to handle stress and maintain metabolic balance. These supplements should:

  • Promote balanced HPA axis function and blood sugar metabolism
  • Replenish the nutrients used up by stress
  • Support adrenal function
  • Provide extra vitamin C and other antioxidants
  • Supply fish oil high in Omega 3 fatty acids

Image Credits: Couple on bench by Flickr user Tony Alter; Fast food by Flickr user SteFou!

Dr Eric Bakker, NZ naturopathic physicianAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 27 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida, psoriasis, as well as adrenal fatigue, thyroid and digestive disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. He has also written what may well be the most comprehensive Natural Psoriasis Treatment Program available. You can find more articles by Dr. Bakker on his blog at www.ericbakker.com


  • Dr. James Wilson, PhD, ND, DC. August 2009 NZ Seminar Series: “Adrenal Fatigue and Its Relationship with Metabolic Syndrome & Hypothyroidism”
  • National Cholesterol Education Program’s Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP-ATP-III);
  • World Health Organization (WHO);
  • American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE);
  • European Society of Hypertension, European Society of Cardiology, International Society of Hypertension (ESH/ESC/ISH)
  • (Houston, MC. The metabolic Syndrome. JANA 2005; 8(2) 3-83.)
  • Gentles, Dudley et.al. Metabolic syndrome prevalence in a multicultural population in Auckland, New Zealand. Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 26-January-2007, Vol 120 No 1248
  • SIMMONS, DAVID & THOMPSON, COLIN F. Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome among Adult New Zealanders of Polynesian and European Descent. DIABETES CARE, VOLUME 27, NUMBER 12, DECEMBER 2004
  • Whiteman, Honor. “‘More than a Third of Americans’ Affected by Metabolic Syndrome.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 20 May 2015. Web. 28 May 2015.
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Learn From the Past, Live For Now, Plan For Tomorrow

Learn From the Past, Live For Now, Plan For Tomorrow

Learn From the Past

regretful dog by Flickr user megan ann

This dog’s only regret is not tearing up the other pig.

To err is human, even when it comes to our health. Even the most dedicated person will slip up. Maybe it’s giving in to comforting but toxic foods that make you feel worse afterward, or that sugary drink from the coffee shop that leaves you exhausted shortly after. Instead of letting these mistakes ruin your mood and add stress, learn from them and move on. It’s the only way to truly enjoy living in today.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with thinking of past events, especially positive events and people that brought you joy. The trouble comes when we focus on the past and use that as an indicator of how we feel today. Dwelling on past mistakes and regrets can bring anxiety about today, as well as weaken your self-confidence. Instead of thinking “I was so stupid for doing that,” reframe it to “I’ll do it differently next time.”

What’s in the past is done, and regardless of what happened there is nothing that can be done to change the outcome. Regret is a losing game, and will only add to your stress and frustration.

Live For Now

today is the best day of your life by Flickr use Asja BorosAs trite as it may sound, there is some truth in the phrase “you’re only as happy as you want to be.” By “thinking” happy, you increase your chances of  being happy. This happiness, even if you’re faking it til you make it, is contagious. People will feed off your vibe, perhaps even increasing their mood in the process. How do you feel in a conversation with a negative, draining person? You likely want to exit stage left!

But how do you put on a happy face when you have a raincloud overhead? There are tricks you can play on your mind to push through, or at least get moving to step one. When you wake up, tell yourself that today is going to be great. Getting up on the wrong side of the bed is an excuse and setup for a bad day. If you will it, so it shall be.

It’s also helpful to focus on the basic, raw feeling of being alive. You’re here another day to live, to make something happen. It may sound hokey, but every day has the chance to be one of the best. Some people never seem to enjoy today, instead putting off living until tomorrow. This is a vicious cycle that only leads to more regret and procrastination.

How well you can filter out the stresses of the past and future will affect your peace and happiness of today. Moreover, your stress response system functions better when unencumbered by imaginary stress. With adrenal fatigue you’re already at a disadvantage, so any added stress can be a big deal. Remember: today is the most important day of your life, because it’s the only one that matters now.

Plan for Tomorrow

You're going to be waiting a while ...

You’re going to be waiting a while …

Failing to plan almost certainly leads to planning to fail. This doesn’t mean you need to spend all of today worrying about and planning for the future, but some planning is good. Both too little and too much planning can be harmful. When planning brings anxiety and stress, it’s time to scale it back and think in smaller, more manageable terms. Planning doesn’t have be some grandiose scheme. It can be as simple as making a meal plan for the week, or making to-do lists in the morning to get organized for the day.

There will be challenges in the future, but don’t be fooled into worrying about them now. It won’t make you any more prepared. Believing a future event will be unsuccessful is another trap. You don’t know the future, so it’s fruitless to speculate. There’s no reason to not be optimistic. Never feel anxious about things that haven’t even happened!

It’s nearly impossible to live in and enjoy the moment when you’re anxious about the past or the future. Accepting this can be a big improvement in your health and well-being–both physical and emotional. It’s your life, and you’re the only one who can sit in the driver’s seat. Grab the steering wheel and accelerate forward, looking ahead and only glancing at what’s behind you.

Image Credits: Regretful dog by Flickr user megan ann; Today sign by Flickr user Asja Boroš

Dr Eric Bakker, NZ naturopathic physicianAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 27 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida, psoriasis, as well as adrenal fatigue, thyroid and digestive disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. He has also written what may well be the most comprehensive Natural Psoriasis Treatment Program available. You can find more articles by Dr. Bakker on his blog at www.ericbakker.com

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Electrolytes: Finding Balance During Adrenal Fatigue

Electrolytes: Finding Balance During Adrenal Fatigue

Electrolytes are teeny, tiny things with big responsibilities. Fluid retention and balance, blood pH, transmission of nerve impulses, and muscle control are just a few jobs these electrically charged particles (ions) handle. Most people suffering from adrenal fatigue experience some level of electrolyte imbalance.

When it comes to electrolytes in the body, it’s all about balance. These particles work best when they’re in an ideal ratio of each other. There are many different electrolytes, but for the purpose of this blog we’ll be focusing on sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium and chloride.


salt-602215_640In the blood and interstitial fluid, sodium is the most dominant of the four minerals. The balance of sodium and potassium significantly affects the symptoms experienced by people with adrenal fatigue. People with adrenal fatigue often have strong cravings for salty and savory foods. A craving for salt in people with adrenal fatigue can be explained by low aldosterone (a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands). In fact, sodium is probably the most critical element in adrenal fatigue.

Aldosterone is responsible for the maintenance of fluid (water) and the concentration of certain minerals (sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride) in the blood, the interstitial fluid (area between the cells) and inside the cells. As circulating aldosterone levels fall, sodium is removed from your bloodstream as it passes through the kidneys and is excreted in the urine. When sodium is excreted it takes water along. Initially, there is some loss of volume of your body fluids but it does not become severe until your circulating sodium level drops to about 50% of its original concentration in body fluids. At this point, even a small loss of sodium begins to have severe consequences.

If you have an electrolyte imbalance, you must be careful how you rehydrate yourself. Drinking lots of water or liquid without adequate sodium replacement can make you feel worse because it further dilutes the amount of sodium in your blood. Avoid soft drinks or electrolyte-rich sports drinks because they are high in potassium and low in sodium, which only add to the imbalance.

For more on sodium and blood pressure, read this article by Dr. Wilson.


More than 90% of your body’s calcium is found in the bones and teeth. That leaves little for the rest of the body, but this small amount is responsible for big things, like blood clotting, muscle action and hormone production. Calcium also helps settle your nervous system and create inner calm.

Like beta fish, it’s best to keep calcium and magnesium separated. They get along together in the body, but when taken together they can cancel each other out, inhibiting absorption and utilization. It’s generally best to take calcium during the day, and supplement with magnesium at night.


potassiumOf the electrolytes, potassium has the highest concentration in the body’s cells. Like sodium, potassium levels are maintained by aldosterone. When too much salt or fluid is pulled from the interstitial fluids, the small amount of sodium in the cells begins to migrate out of the cells into the interstitial fluid.

The cell does not have a great reserve of sodium because it needs to maintain its 15:1 ratio of potassium to sodium. As the sodium is pulled from the cell, water follows the sodium out. This leaves the cell dehydrated as well as sodium deficient. In addition, in order to keep the sodium/potassium ratio inside the cell constant, potassium then begins to migrate out in small quantities. This creates even more electrolyte imbalance, leading to decreased adrenal function.


Most of the chloride in your body comes from the salt in your diet. You need chloride daily to balance fluid levels, perform nerve transmissions, move muscles and maintain kidney function. If you’re sodium is out of balance, chances are your chloride is as well.

Maintaining Balance

water-balance-280810_640Dehydration is the most common cause of electrolyte balance, so staying hydrated can often prevent an imbalance. With adrenal fatigue, maintaining this balance can be tricky. Drinking lightly salted water can help, especially in the morning when aldosterone levels are low. You may also want to avoid potassium-heavy foods at this time as well. You can continue to drink salted water 2-4 times during the day, varying the amount of salt according to your taste.

It’s also recommended to avoid electrolyte-depleting or diuretic foods and beverages such as alcohol and coffee, especially if you have been out in the sun or are otherwise dehydrated. One of the problems people with adrenal fatigue constantly deal with is mild dehydration and sodium depletion.

But even in adrenal fatigue, the body is still wonderful, beautiful and incredibly wise. It is our society, our maladaptation to the stresses of modern life, and our poor judgment that need to change. We may not be able to change society but we can learn to use better judgment when it comes to taking care of ourselves and to respond to stress in healthier ways.


“Electrolytes: Get Facts On How Electrolytes Affect Disease.” MedicineNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2015.

“Electrolytes: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 07 May 2015.

“Fluid and Electrolyte Balance: MedlinePlus.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 07 May 2015.

Wilson, James L. Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. Petaluma, CA: Smart Publications, 2001. Print.

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Signs of the (Changing) Times: 12 Symptoms of Menopause

Signs of the (Changing) Times: 12 Symptoms of Menopause

hot flashes cartoonMenopause literally means ‘the last period.’ While many women would gladly leave behind the woes that come with menstruation, not many would gladly go through menopause in return. It is possible to experience little or no discomfort during menopause, but for some women it can be one of the most challenging times of their lives.

Generally speaking, menopause is determined after menstruation has stopped for twelve months. For most women, this will start between 45 and 55 years of age. The time when most women start to experience the undesired effects is perimenopause, a term used to describe the transitional period leading up to and through menopause.

This is a time of great change. Over time, the ovaries cease production of vital hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. With such a drastic change in hormone levels, it’s no wonder that menopause can make one feel like their body is short-circuiting. Here are the twelve most common signs your body has begun the transition:

1) Lack of Periods

This one may seem overly obvious, but a lack of menstruation is a good sign that menopause is happening. Typically, periods become shorter and lighter over time, eventually stopping altogether. An irregularity in your cycle could also be due to stress.

2) Mood Swings

Menopause can make some women feel like mild-mannered Bruce Banner turning into the raging Incredible Hulk. Those quick switches to anger, sadness, and depression for no obvious reason can be chalked up to hormones. This side effect alone can be very challenging to one’s sanity, as well as the sanity of those around them.

3) Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are probably the most referenced part of menopause, though not all women experience them. If you have, you don’t need me to tell you it’s possible to go from burning up to ice cold in a matter of minutes. The cause of hot flashes isn’t totally known, though it likely has to do with hormones affecting the hypothalamus, your body’s thermostat.

4) Insomnia

There are two kinds of insomnia: sleep onset (trouble falling asleep) and sleep maintenance (trouble staying asleep). Unfortunately, both can be experienced during menopause. Insomnia during menopause can be blamed largely on the fluctuation of estrogen. Regular exercise and magnesium supplementation can often help.

5) Weight Gain

There are several factors that can attribute to menopausal weight gain. The two biggest, ironically, are some of the smallest glands in the body: the adrenal and thyroid glands. In these cases, I often check the patient’s adrenal and thyroid hormone levels.

6) Decrease in Sex Drive

Testosterone is largely associated with males, but it’s a critical hormone for women as well–especially when it comes to sex drive. A woman’s desire for intimacy, as well as sexual energy and self-confidence, are powered by testosterone, estrogen and progesterone–all which drop dramatically during menopause.

7) Vaginal Dryness

One of estrogen’s many responsibilities is to keep the skin around the vagina healthy and lubricated. Dry skin, not just in the vaginal area, is common during menopause. Unfortunately, this can cause painful intercourse. Fortunately, there are natural supplements, as well as gentle lubricants, which can help.

8) Anxiety

Progesterone is a calming hormone, working to buffer you from stress and anxiety. When progesterone levels are low, like during menopause, you’re more vulnerable to the effects of stress and anxiety. For most women, perimenopause is the time when they’re most susceptible.

9) Fatigue

Considering everything that goes on, it’s understandable to be a little (or a lot) tired during menopause. But what if the fatigue continues beyond menopause? Once the ovaries slow down hormone production, the adrenal glands must pick up the slack. This increase in production can sometimes bog down the glands of stress, leading to adrenal fatigue.

10) Incontinence

Did you know estrogen helps keep the bladder and urethra in good order? As estrogen levels decrease during menopause, the bladder control mechanisms weaken, leading to leakage and/or more frequent trips to the bathroom. Kegel exercises are one way to help reinforce and strengthen bladder control during menopause.

11) Difficulty With Concentration and Memory

Many of my otherwise sharp patients have complained to me about loss of memory, brain fog and forgetfulness during menopause. Unfortunately this is a common and frustrating side effect of menopause, and one that can also be chalked up to lowered estrogen levels.

12) Night Sweats

Not to be confused with hot flashes (though they can occur together), night sweats occur, naturally, at night. Also known as sleep hyperhidrosis, night sweats can vary by degree, sometimes making you feel like you just got out of the shower. Generally, menopausal night sweats go away after a few months, but can recur under chronic stress.

Dr Eric Bakker, NZ naturopathic physicianAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 27 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida, psoriasis, as well as adrenal fatigue, thyroid and digestive disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. He has also written what may well be the most comprehensive Natural Psoriasis Treatment Program available. You can find more articles by Dr. Bakker on his blog at www.ericbakker.com

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Is Chronic Inflammation Affecting Your Health?

Is Chronic Inflammation Affecting Your Health?

Many of the illnesses and conditions we commonly attribute to growing old can actually be attributed to inflammation. While increased inflammation can be part of the aging process, not everyone is affected the same. One of the best things I’ve been able to do for my own patients is identify and control any inflammation they’re experiencing. This is often easier said than done, but has lead to significant improvements in the health of many of my patients.

What Does Chronic Inflammation Feel Like?

hand pain by Flickr user jilly999

Ouch! For some, chronic inflammation manifests as stiffness, swelling and pain in joints.

First, let’s discuss what it feels like to experience chronic inflammation. Keep in mind that this is a condition that can build slowly and fester over time, and the side effects aren’t always heavily pronounced.  Here are some of the more common signs and symptoms of chronic inflammation:

  • Difficulty thinking / poor concentration
  • Stiffness and/or swelling in joints
  • Weight gain not necessarily attributed to diet and lifestyle
  • Chronic aches and pains
  • Congestion
  • Lowered immune function (difficulty fighting off infection or recurring instances)
  • Recurring digestive issues (heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, etc.)

Is All Inflammation Bad?

The inflammatory response is a vital process in helping the body heal. Everything from cuts, bruises, bug bites, the cold and the flu are handled by your body’s inflammatory response. To be specific, these are examples of an acute inflammatory response, which is different from the response associated with conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

When your body is healthy and functioning at an optimal level,  it will repair itself rather quickly without help needed on your behalf. The complex and incredible human immune system detects a threat or invader right away, and quickly reacts with a defense appropriate to the attack. Once the threat is neutralized, your body ‘calls off the dogs’ and returns to homeostasis.

When Good Inflammation Goes Bad

Chronic inflammation occurs when there’s a pesky, persistent injury, like an infected tooth or an ulcer. It can also be caused by an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In these cases, low-grade inflammation occurs over an extended period, sometimes years.

Over time this can cause damage to vital parts of the body, including blood vessels, joints and brain tissue. This is due to the excess of immune  cells and pro-inflammatory compounds, which constantly circulate in the body and cause damage to blood vessels, joints and brain tissue. This is why chronic inflammation can lead to serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer’s.

What You Can do to Ease Inflammation

gluten free aisle by Flickr user Memphis CVB

Is gluten-free better than free gluten? Inflammation would say so.

There are many different diet and lifestyle changes that can help calm the fires of inflammation. There are also vitamins and minerals that can help, especially omega-3 fatty acids.

Adapting a gluten-free diet is a necessity for those with Celiac’s, but can be good for anyone with chronic inflammation. This makes sense, considering Celiac’s is an autoimmune condition. Going gluten-free does not lead to being symptom-free, but when combined with other changes can lead to significant improvements.

Generally speaking, going gluten-free means eliminating grains and refined carbohydrates from your diet. With grains, some experts will say avoid them all, but there are some that may be acceptable, such as quinoa, amaranth, and millet. There’s also debate over whether meat is an inflammatory food. Some experts say avoid meat altogether to avoid increasing inflammation. I generally tell my patients to include lean animal proteins if they wish, and can have them with no issue.

Last, but certainly not least, one must make sure to support their adrenal glands when dealing with chronic inflammation. Cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, is widely considered to be the body’s top anti-inflammatory agent. For this reason, chronic inflammation can also lead to adrenal issues, such as adrenal fatigue. For more on this topic, please read my blog on improving adrenal function to reduce inflammation.

Image Credits: Joint pain image by Flickr user jilly999; Gluten-free aisle image by Flickr user Memphis CVB

Dr Eric Bakker, NZ naturopathic physicianAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 27 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida, psoriasis, as well as adrenal fatigue, thyroid and digestive disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. He has also written what may well be the most comprehensive Natural Psoriasis Treatment Program available. You can find more articles by Dr. Bakker on his blog at www.ericbakker.com

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Adrenal-Friendly Recipes: Quinoa Tabouleh, Roasted Beet Salad, and Mixed Bean Salad

1. Quinoa Tabouleh

Quinoa is an amazing grain. It contains significant amounts of dietary fiber, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper and manganese. This super grain is an excellent non-animal source of protein, and it’s also a safe choice for those sensitive to gluten.

Tabouleh is quick and simple to assemble. It can be eaten as a snack or served as a side for lunch or dinner. Feel free to experiment and add your own ingredients, like chickpeas, cucumber, lemon juice, scallions, or jalapeños for spice.


  • tabouleh by Flickr user Joshua Bousel1 cup of dry quinoa (makes 3 cups when cooked)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. While the quinoa is cooking, you can prepare the other ingredients. Once done, fluff the quinoa with a fork and let sit to cool. Once cool, gently mix in all other ingredients. Now you’re done, so enjoy!

2. Roasted Beet Salad

Beets get their vibrant color from a natural pigment called betalain. When consumed, betalain acts as a powerful antioxidant. There are also significant amounts of folate, manganese, potassium, copper, fiber and magnesium in beets. There’s also a recipe for Dr. Bakker’s Universal Dressing below, if you don’t want to use your own.


  • roasted beet salad by Flickr user Jules Morgan2-3 medium-sized beets, cut into 1 inch cubes (scrub in water first to clean, but do not peel)
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch strips (you can also roast the red pepper in the oven or a dry skillet, just until it blisters)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 1 inch cubes (you can use any variety of tomato you wish, or a blend of different kinds)
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • A small block of feta cheese, cut into small cubes (you can use any type of goat cheese, or other cheese of your liking–but not Velveeta!)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, as a topping (can also be toasted in a dry skillet or in the oven)
  • Green or black olives, pitted and chopped


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350* F/180* C.
  2. Rub the cubed beets in olive oil, and space them out on a baking sheet
  3. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they’re tender and sweet-tasting
  4. While the beets are roasting, you can roast the red pepper and sesame seeds on the stove-top, if desired.
  5. Put the beets, red pepper, garlic, tomato, red onion and cheese in a bowl and gently mix.
  6. Add the sesame seeds and gently mix again.

Instructions for Dr. Bakker’s Universal Dressing: Mix together the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 small clove of finely chopped garlic, a small sprig of parsley (torn apart or chopped to spread), and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Mixed Bean Salad

It’s jokingly said that beans are the magical fruit, though they do have some super powers. Like quinoa, beans are a great non-animal source of protein. Beans also contain hearty levels of key vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, magnesium and manganese.


  • mixed bean saladBeans ( A mix is good, and if you have time to rinse and cook your own even better. A canned mix is acceptable as well. A good mix would be kidney beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans and black beans.)
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 celery stalk, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 a red pepper (can be roasted, if desired)
  • 1/4 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • A handful of arugula leaves (or more if you like–you can also use different greens, or a mix)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • You can also add your choice of rice, grain or pasta, if desired


  1. Place lemon juice, garlic and olive oil in a jar and shake well to mix.
  2. Place the rest of the ingredients, and any extras, in a bowl.
  3. Add the mixed dressing and gently toss to mix. Enjoy!

You can find more easy, healthy and tasty recipes by Dr. Bakker and his team at http://www.naturopath.co.nz/Recipes.html

Image Credits: Roasted beet salad by Flickr user Jules Morgan; Tabouleh by Flickr user Joshua Bousel; Mixed bean salad courtesy of naturopath.co.nz

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Digestive Issues: The Three Most Common Causes

Digestive Issues: The Three Most Common Causes

Good health starts in the gut. It may seem cliche by now, but this statement is certainly true. If the gut isn’t working properly, it’s likely that nothing else will either. There are many potential causes of gut distress, and in this article I am addressing the three most common culprits, along with their common side effects. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

1. Stress

stressed woman on bench

I’m so stressed I could sit! But in all seriousness, stress can really do a number on your gut health.

Stress has short- and long-term effects on gut health. It can lead to poor digestion, decreased nutrient intake and disruptions in microbial balance, and can immediately cause stomach discomfort.

There’s a close relation between your emotions and your gut, which is often referred to as the second brain. Your second brain actually produces more neurotransmitters than the brain in your head. In fact, more than 80% of your body’s serotonin is produced in the gut!

On top of that, stress can cause even the strong-willed to abandon healthy eating habits in favor of quick and nutrient-devoid comfort foods. These are the type of foods that further compound gut distress and leave you feeling worse. High stress can also cause people to be less active, eliminating one of the best stress reducers from their lives (exercise).

Side effects of stress on the digestive system include constipation, diarrhea, indigestion/heartburn and loss of appetite. Malabsorption and improper digestion can also be brought on by chronic stress.

How to Relieve a Gut Damaged by Stress

It’s important to address both the effects of the stress and the stress itself. I like to recommend lighter exercises for stress management, such as walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi and meditation. I also make nutritional recommendations, which are best done on a case-by-case basis. There are many vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements that can support the stress response system, as well as the digestive system. In most cases, prescription drugs are not required.

Many folks with digestive issues have unaddressed emotional issues. In order to truly recover, it’s important to deal with the root cause lying beneath the surface. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to talk with someone. It takes a strong person, not a weak one, to ask for help.

2. Fermentation of the Digestive System

pint of beer

During fermentation your gut makes its own “beer,” though not one you’d want to drink.

Fermentation tends to take place in the small intestine, and is a ‘backfire’ of the digestive system. Just like it sounds, your body starts making its own beer and wine (in a bad way), instead of properly breaking down starches and sugars. This disorder, though common, can be quite serious, as it disrupts both the digestion and absorption processes.

The most common cause of gut fermentation is stress. Stress can lead to hypochlorhydria (a lack of stomach acid), which paves the way for fermentation. Fermentation can also occur after traveling overseas, after a long holiday (especially if stress and bad food are in the mix), while recovering from an illness, or after antibiotic treatments.

Symptoms of fermentation include bloating, increased gas, nausea, changes in bowel and/or appetite, body odor, cold hands or feet, increased sweating, fatigue and irritability.

How to Relieve a Gut Damaged by Fermentation

Fermentation can be detected by way of a simple urine test. If the urinary indican chemical is present, chances are the gut is not digesting food properly. Treatment typically involves a “kill program” made of specific herbs and nutrients, as well as strict diet changes excluding all starches, sugars and yeast. Digestive enzymes taken at mealtime may also prove helpful.

Generally, fermentation itself is not a serious problem and can be easily remedied. If left untreated, it can progress into a more serious issue. such as dysbiosis.

3. Candidiasis (Yeast Infection)

human tongue affected by oral candidiasis

Candida overgrowth can manifest in several ways, including oral thrush

There are more than 400 different species of organisms living in the gut, and it takes a balance of their population to maintain good gut health. Candida Albicans is one of these organisms, and is generally not harmful until an overgrowth occurs. This imbalance, known as intestinal dysbiosis, is extremely common and can manifest in several ways.

Like many of the problems discussed here, the most common cause of intestinal dysbiosis is chronic stress. Dysbiosis can also be brought on by fermentation, poor eating habits, high alcohol consumption, antibiotic treatments and some forms of birth control.

Symptoms of candida overgrowth include skin rashes/irritation, chronic fatigue, brain fog, vaginal thrush, increased urinary frequency, diarrhea, bloating and constipation.

How to Relieve a Gut Damaged by Candida Dysbiosis

Generally, a candida overgrowth can be easily detected by a healthcare practitioner. There are several questionnaires that can be helpful, as well as serum and stool tests to measure candida antibodies. I recommend being tested for candida overgrowth before taking any strong measure to fix it.

For mild cases, treatment often includes a special diet, anti-fungal supplements, as well as vitamin and mineral-based supplements. For more severe cases, heavier testing and treatment may be required, such as the use of anti-fungal drugs, a comprehensive digestive stool analysis and food allergy panel.

Dr Eric Bakker, NZ naturopathic physicianAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 27 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida, psoriasis, as well as adrenal fatigue, thyroid and digestive disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. He has also written what may well be the most comprehensive Natural Psoriasis Treatment Program available. You can find more articles by Dr. Bakker on his blog at www.ericbakker.com

Image Credits: Tongue affected by candidiasis By James Heilman, MD (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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Dr. Bakker’s Guide to Gluten-Free Baking

Dr. Bakker’s Guide to Gluten-Free Baking

Many people have told they believe gluten-free baking to be a bit of a myth: something that sounds good, but is too good to be true. I’ve heard horror stories of inedible, unrecognizable rocks coming out of the oven. I can assure you: it doesn’t have to be this way. In this blog, I’ll cover the basics of gluten-free baking.

Baking and Cooking Gluten-Free

assortment of fresh baked breadsOnce you’ve mastered gluten-free baking and cooking (and it really is easy), you won’t want to go back. The important thing to remember is to keep it simple. Once you’ve learned how to use white flour alternatives, and there are plenty, you’ll be able to incorporate them into all your recipes requiring flour.

As with any new venture, don’t fear failure. Your first batch or two may turn out to be more useful as hockey pucks, but keep your sense of humor and don’t get discouraged. Baking in general requires trial and error, but once you get it you’ve got it.

But What About the Leavening?

The only problem with gluten-free flours is that they often require an additional leavening agent. I recommend using xanthum gum as a leavening agent in your gluten-free flour recipes and mixes. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-made, gluten-free flour and pancake mixes. You might be surprised at how well these pre-made mixes can turn out! As always, check the label for any funny business.

What About Oats?

organic steel cut oats by Flickr user ArtizoneNot all rolled oats are free of gluten. In fact, oats in general can be a real problem for those with celiac disease or a high sensitivity to gluten. Often times the oat crop is cross-contaminated with another crop, like wheat. If available, organic, stone milled oats are a good alternative. These may still contain trace amounts of gluten, which I’ve generally found to not be a problem for my gluten-sensitive clients.

If your digestive system is sensitive, you may have to get used to the high fiber content in rolled oats. My advice is to start low and go slow, perhaps preparing a half cup of oatmeal once or twice a week, and see how that goes for you. You can add more as your tolerance builds. Be sure to drink plenty of water, and taking a probiotic can be helpful as well.

White Flour Alternatives: The Breakdown

White rice flour: Plain white rice flour can have a gritty texture. It’s perfectly fine for baking, as long as you’re using it in something you don’t mind having a sandy texture. It can be good for biscuits and some cookies.

Sorghum flour: This flour tends to be soft and sweet with a smooth texture, and can be great for baking.

Brown rice flour: I find this flour to be superior to white rice flour. It contains more nutrition, and tends to give more body to your baking, especially when blended with lighter flours. I’ve also found that both brown and white rice flour work well as a thickening agent in gravy.

Almond flour: This flour can add a subtle but great flavor to your baked goods. It also adds protein, fiber, and essential minerals like calcium and magnesium to the mix.

buckwheat pancakes by Flickr user Brenda WileyBuckwheat flour: This is my go-to flour for making pancakes. It tastes great, and has great protein content. Note: even though it’s part of the name, there’s no relation to wheat. Buckwheat is actually part of the rhubarb and sorrel family.

Millet flour: Millet flour is an alkaline grain that is high in fiber and protein.

Quinoa flour: This flour is quite high in protein, but should be used sparsely as it does have a strong flavor. Quinoa flour is best used blended with other flours.

Coconut flour: Coconut flour is amazing! It’s high in fiber, has a great taste and is quite versatile. This flour does soak up moisture, so be mindful of the amounts you use. I recommend using about a half cup in a gluten-free flour blend for best results.

Note: Almond, buckwheat, coconut and quinoa flours are generally denser and work best blended in small amounts. Start out with 1/3 cup and do some experimenting. It really comes down to application and personal preference.

Dr. Bakker’s Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix


  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1 cup tapioca or potato starch (Important: do not use potato flour.)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup almond meal, buckwheat flour, millet flour or quinoa flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (this is essential to avoid making ‘bricks’)

Gluten-Free Self-Rising Flour Mix


  • 1 cup basic gluten-free flour mix (you can use the previous recipe)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (check to be sure it’s gluten-free!)
  • 1/2 treaspoon salt (I recommend Celtic or sea salt)

I have more gluten-free recipes available on my website, including bread and pizza base mixes, which you can find here. There are also excellent gluten-free muffin recipes available on this blog here.

Image Credits: Rolled oats by Flickr user Artizone; Buckwheat pancakes by Flickr user Brenda Wiley

Dr Eric Bakker, NZ naturopathic physicianAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 27 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida, psoriasis, as well as adrenal fatigue, thyroid and digestive disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. He has also written what may well be the most comprehensive Natural Psoriasis Treatment Program available. You can find more articles by Dr. Bakker on his blog at www.ericbakker.com

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Adrenal Fatigue and Exercise: Start Low and Go Slow

Adrenal Fatigue and Exercise: Start Low and Go Slow

exercise equipment - weights, scale, shoes and ball

If you have adrenal fatigue, exercise is probably the last thing you feel like doing. But before you skip this blog, listen to all the good things it will do for you. And remember: dancing and making love are exercise too!

Benefits of Exercise

Rapid breathing expels volatile gases out of your body that become harmful if they build up. The increased blood flow helps keep plaque from building up in your arteries while stimulating your liver to perform its 3,000+ functions more efficiently. Cell function improves with the accompanying acceleration of carbon dioxide, oxygen and nutrient exchange. Exercise normalizes levels of cortisol, insulin, blood glucose, growth hormone, thyroid, and several other hormones and puts more oxygen into your brain.

Exercise also decreases depression, which is a common side effect of adrenal fatigue. There are studies that show that exercise can be as effective in treating depression as are some pharmaceutical agents. Physical activity is empowering as well as rejuvenating.

What Exercise is Best for Adrenal Fatigue?

Exercises – combine aerobics, anaerobics and flexibility

Exercises – combine aerobics, anaerobics and flexibility

Exercise should be enjoyable. It should not be highly competitive, grueling or debilitating. What you need is something that increases lung capacity, muscle tone and flexibility while having fun. (See illustration “Exercises – combine aerobics, anaerobics and flexibility”).

Yoga with breathing exercises, ta’i chi, kick boxing, swimming, fast walking, dancing, and any number of team sports and exercise programs are all good ways to get your body moving. Pick something that is enjoyable to you. Remember you are not working out to run a marathon or set new records, but to bring your body back to life and take pleasure in it again. There will be days, especially when you first begin exercising, that you do not feel like doing anything physical. When this happens, instead of forcing yourself to exercise, start slow and gently work into it.

In other words, do not let the exercise become another stressor in your life. When part of you resists, simply treat that part with kind understanding, acknowledge its resistance, but do not let it undermine your commitment to your health. People with adrenal fatigue often feel too tired to exercise. However, if you set a routine time to exercise, no matter how you feel, you will soon experience the rewards of your self-discipline.

How Do I Know if I Am Exercising Correctly?

woman stretching dramatically

“…And the hip bone is connected to the pain bone.”

Exercise at your own pace and not the pace of the person next to you or your friends. If you get tired, rest or quit for a while or for the day. If you are tired the next morning, take it easier the next time. As your stamina increases, gradually increase your exercise.

The purpose of exercising in this program is not necessarily to become stronger, but to increase your body’s tone, flexibility and aerobic capacity. Two weeks after you start exercising daily you should notice that you are beginning to feel better. You should feel good after a workout and should only be slightly or mildly sore the day after. If you feel worse after a workout or the next morning, you probably exercised too hard and need to step it down a notch.

Type A personalities who are out of shape are particularly prone to doing this. In their minds, they are in much better condition than they actually are and so make more demands on their bodies than they should. Exercise done properly makes you feel better physically and mentally. If you are not experiencing this within a few weeks of starting a regular program, either cut back a little or try a different kind of exercise. The most important requirement is that exercise becomes enjoyable for you.

Further reading on exercising for adrenal fatigue: Fundamentals of fitness: Cardiovascular Exercise; Getting Fit to Get Happy; Exercising for Stress Relief

Dr. James L. WilsonAbout the Author: With a researcher’s grasp of science and a clinician’s understanding of its human impact, Dr. Wilson has helped many physicians understand the physiology behind and treatment of various health conditions. He is acknowledged as an expert on alternative medicine, especially in the area of stress and adrenal function. Dr. Wilson is a respected and sought after lecturer and consultant in the medical and alternative healthcare communities in the United States and abroad. His popular book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome has been received enthusiastically by physicians and the public alike, and has sold over 400,000 copies. Dr. Wilson resides with his family in sunny Tucson, Arizona.

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