The simplified answer is that adrenal fatigue is when your body has exceeded it’s capacity to efficiently deal with stress, leaving you out of balance and at risk for serious heath conditions if not addressed. You might even have your Paleo nutrition dialed in, but not the “lifestyle” part, leading to some of these (but not limited to) common symptoms of adrenal fatigue: exhaustion, depression, cravings, low libido, brain fog, hypoglycemic type symptoms, muscle & joint pain, and difficulty waking but being wired at night.
Adrenal Fatigue is essentially a result of chronic stress. People often think of stress in terms of psychological stress but stress can also result from an injury, from over-training (which is all too common in the Paleo community), from a bacterial or viral infection, or really anything that chronically puts your body out of balance.
The mechanisms leading to adrenal fatigue are actually complex and in reality, your adrenal glands wait for signals that originate in your brain to do their job. The consequences of chronic psychological and/or physical stress disrupt and inhibit proper signaling of your hormones, nervous system, and immune system and consequently affect the messaging to your adrenal glands. So, in truth, your adrenal glands might actually be okay—it’s the proper signaling that needs to be restored.
Regardless of whether your adrenal glands are actually fatigued or they are simply not getting the signals they need to do their job, it’s imperative to take steps to reduce chronic stress and to restore balance in your body. Foundationally, you need to ensure your nutrition is dialed in (see Real Food 101), address digestion (see Healthy Digestion ) and address blood sugar regulation (see 21-Day Sugar Detox ). Lifestyle factors such as adequate rest, quality sleep, and stress reduction are critical for healing to take place. In tandem, on my Balanced Bites website, you can find a number of articles and podcasts on adrenal fatigue and how to restore and maintain adrenal health.