The Adrenal Fatigue Diet
Even in the best of times, you need food to survive and be healthy. When your adrenals respond to stress your cell metabolism speeds up, burning many times the number of nutrients normally needed. With adrenal fatigue, the cells have used up much of the body’s stored nutrients, creating a nutritional void. Good quality food is the best source for replenishing these nutrients.
To learn more specifically about Adrenal fatigue symptoms and dietary recommendations please refer to:
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr. James Wilson who is a leading expert in this field.I strongly urge patients to first talk to their physicians and be properly tested and diagnosed before experimenting with different supplements. Your treatment has to be individualized to meet your very unique needs. Only at that point can a physician determine what vitamins and adrenal products are right for you.
The Connection Between Adrenal Fatigue and Low Blood Sugar
If you have adrenal fatigue, when you eat is almost as important as what you eat. By eating natural, high quality food at frequent, regular intervals, you can help avoid low drops in blood sugar and make a difference in your adrenal health and energy levels. Adrenal glands particularly like Fiber as the main source of fuel. Vitamins B and C are also very important to maintain healthy adrenal function.
When to Eat
One of the major dietary mistakes made by people with low adrenal output is not eating soon enough after waking. If you have adrenal fatigue, it is very important that you eat before 10:00 am and you need to eat plenty of fiber and avoid sugar. This is vital in helping to replenish the waning stored blood sugar supply after the previous night’s energy needs.
An early lunch, preferably before noon, is better than a late lunch because your body quickly uses up the morning nourishment and is ready for more. Between 11 and 11:30 am is usually the best time for lunch. You should also eat a nutritious snack between 2 and 3 pm to sustain yourself for the cortisol dip that typically occurs between 3 and 4 pm. Your evening meal should be eaten between 5 and 6 pm.
A few bites of a high quality snack before bed can help get through sleep disturbances.
What to Eat and Drink
According to Dr. Wilson, the world’s expert on Adrenal Fatigue, you will do best combining fat, protein and complex carbohydrates (like whole grains) at every meal and snack. This combination helps provide a steady stream of energy throughout the day. It is important to remember that foods that are converted too quickly into energy (like sugary snacks or highly processed foods) will quickly let you down.
Salt: In most cases of adrenal fatigue, salt (in moderation) benefits those who add it to their diet. Unless you are one of the rare people with adrenal fatigue and high blood pressure, add some salt to your food. A sea salt or Celtic salt is preferred, as these are the kinds containing the valuable nutrients. Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are actually caused by your body’s needs for salt.
Proteins: Good quality protein from meat, fish, fowl, eggs, dairy and various plant sources (soy and other legumes, nuts and seeds) is helpful in dealing with adrenal fatigue. Try to avoid processed proteins such as packaged lunch meats and processed cheeses. Proteins generally have more nutritional value and are easier to digest when eaten lightly cooked or raw.
Vegetables: Every day, you should include 6-8 servings of a wide variety of vegetables in your meals, especially those that are naturally highly colored (bright green, red, orange, yellow or purple). Vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and a high amount of fiber. It is a good to idea to vary how you prepare vegetables, because different nutrients are made available through different cooking methods.
Fruit: People with adrenal fatigue and blood sugar problems should go lightly on fruits, especially in the morning. Fruits contain a significant amount of fructose and potassium, which is a detrimental combination for those with exhausted adrenals. However, it is preferable that any fruit that you do eat is organically grown. Below is a short list of fruits people with adrenal fatigue tend to do well with, and ones they should avoid.
grapes (only a few)
Fruits to Avoid
Summary of What to Eat
Here are 9 easy rules to follow:
1) Eat a wide variety of whole, natural foods
2) Combine a healthy fat, protein and carbohydrate source with every meal
3) Eat lots of vegetables, especially the brightly colored ones. Every color fruit and vegetable contains numerous nutritional subtances that are important to your health.
4) Salt your food to a pleasant taste, but be cautious if you have a history of high blood pressure. People with Adrenal Fatigue tend to have low blood pressure and they can tolerate salt.
5) Eat mainly whole grains as your source of carbohydrate
6) Combine grains with legumes (beans), or legumes with seeds or nuts to form a complete protein
7) Use the above list of fruits as your guide.
8) Mix 1-2 tablespoons of fresh essential oils (cold pressed olive, grape seed, safflower, flax, etc.) into grains, vegetables and meats daily
9) Eat high quality food; it becomes you.
By following these simple guidelines, your food intake can help support your adrenals.
What Not to Eat
Eating the wrong foods or combination of foods can throw you off for hours, even days. Pick the foods that are recommended and stick with them.
Sugar and White Flour Products: Ironically, foods made with sugar and white flour – doughnuts, rolls, pies, cakes, cookies, candy bars, soft drinks – are the ones many people experiencing adrenal fatigue crave the most. This is because hypoglycemia and adrenal fatigue often go hand in hand, and foods made from refined flour and/or sugar quickly raise your blood sugar. The problem is, they raise your blood sugar too high, causing an excess insulin release. The excess insulin causes blood sugar levels to crash, often leading to hypoglycemic symptoms and more cravings, creating a dangerous cycle.
Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils: Three common examples of these types of oils are vegetable shortening, margarine, and the oil used in commercial peanut butters. When you eat foods containing hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats, they disrupt normal fatty acid metabolism in your body. These oils use up the enzymes that normally would be utilized by the good oils to help create high quality cell membranes and nerve sheaths.
Avoid Deep-fried Foods: Most deep-fried foods are fried in hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. Not only do these foods have the dangers mentioned previously, they also contain toxic free radicals formed when the oils break down with heat that can cause oxidative tissue damage throughout the body.
Fast Foods and Junk Foods: There are numerous problems with fast foods and junk foods: they often contain white flour, sugar, hydrogenated fats, or all three; often their ingredients are of poor quality with little nutritional value; and what nutrients they have are often lost due to being kept hot or stored for long periods of time. It is questionable whether some junk foods are even food at all!
It is also important to avoid foods you are allergic or sensitive to, as well as foods you are addicted to.
Below is a list of beverages that work better for people with adrenal fatigue. Remember that it is best to avoid drinks (and foods) containing caffeine.
Water – pure, clean spring water is best. Many people experiencing adrenal fatigue find they feel better if they lightly salt their water (a pinch up to ¼ teaspoon in 8 oz water– to taste), especially in the morning.
Green Tea – it is better for you than black tea or coffee, due to its high content of antioxidants and other nutrients
Barley Tea – tea made from roasted barley., available at most Asian markets and some health food stores
Bancha Tea – also available at many Asian markets
Herbal Teas – there are many varieties available, but keep in mind it is best to avoid those mixed with black tea
Vegetable Juices – these contain many nutrients that are excellent for the body. Combinations like carrot/celery,/parsley are rich in color, high in vitamins, and help to stimulate the liver. It is best to avoid the ones containing sugar, corn syrup or fruit juice.
Goat’s Milk – a much better choice than cow’s milk. It is more similar to human milk, lower in lactose and much less likely to cause allergies. It is a rich source of many nutrients.
Beverages to Avoid:
Chocolate – hot cocoa and other chocolate beverages are too likely to overstimulate the adrenals with the combination of caffeine and sugar they contain.
Caffeine – There has long been convincing evidence about the adverse effects of caffeine and caffeine-like substances on your health. Caffeine can drive the adrenals, further depleting them. The best advice is to avoid these substances altogether.
Alcohol – a special kind of poison for the adrenals that should not be consumed by people suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Soft Drinks – colas and other carbonated beverages contain sugar or artificial sugar, and most contain caffeine. The detrimental effects caused by these ingredients have been outlined earlier.
I urge patients to talk to their physicians about Adrenal fatigue. A wonderful resource for patients to learn more about Adrenal fatigue and to better educate themselves is :
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr. James Wilson.
Some of the information above is adopted from Dr. Wilson’s book on Adrenal Fatigue.