Table of Contents
- Treat Your Adrenal Fatigue Naturally By Changing Your Diet
- 1. Cut Out The Caffeine
- 2. Stay Away From Sweets
- 3. Avoid The Alcohol
- 4. Put Aside Processed Junk Food
- 5. Don’t Go Too Low On Carbs
- 6. Have Some Healthy Fats
- 7. Pick Your Protein
- 8. Hook Up With Whole Grains
- 9. Go For The Greens
- 10. Forego Intermittent Fasting
- 11. Try Ginseng In The Morning To Combat Fatigue
- 12. Take In Plenty Of Essential Fatty Acids
- 13. Try Carnitine Supplements
Are you having trouble sleeping at night and getting out of bed in the morning?
Have you been feeling anxious or depressed lately?
Do you sometimes catch yourself losing focus and energy during the day?
If you answered “Yes” to most or all of these and you don’t know what’s wrong, you’re probably suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Just above our kidneys are two thumb-sized glands called the “adrenal glands”. They produce and control the stress hormone called “cortisol”.
When they’re fatigued, they release either insufficient or overabundant levels of cortisol in the bloodstream.
Adrenal fatigue may also cause a deficiency in Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA is the “parent hormone” responsible for creating many of the hormones that the body needs.
Adrenal fatigue is believed to be caused by chronic stress or anxiety. Causes can include a poor diet, lack of sleep, overworking, emotional trauma, too much or too little exercise, or mold exposure.
Symptoms include tiredness after waking up, trouble falling asleep, loss of energy during the afternoon, anxiety, mood swings, depression, weight gain, autoimmune issues, brain fog, body aches, hair loss, and lightheadedness.
Treat Your Adrenal Fatigue Naturally By Changing Your Diet
If you noticed, I placed “cleaning up your diet” first. Diet plays a crucial role in our stress levels. While we only tend to overeat when we’re stressed, your current diet may actually be adding to your stress.
1. Cut Out The Caffeine
Caffeine stimulates brain function making you feel more awake and active.
It basically makes your mind go into fight or flight mode. This causes your adrenals to release stress hormones — making your adrenal imbalance worse.
And no, you can’t even drink decaf.
Just because something says “decaf” doesn’t mean it’s 100% caffeine-free. The USDA only requires products to be 97% caffeine-free for them to be labeled “decaf”. This means that if an average cup of coffee contains about 180mg of caffeine, a cup of decaf coffee still has about 5.4mg of caffeine.
2. Stay Away From Sweets
A 2019 meta-analysis found that sugar actually increases fatigue within an hour of consumption.
Every time you eat sugar, your adrenals and pancreas start to produce insulin and cortisol to process it. This stresses your adrenal glands even more, thereby, preventing recovery.
Now, when we say “sugar”, we mean sugar from all sources. This means table sugar, sugary processed food, high-sugar fruits, and especially artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners not only jeopardize your metabolism, but they also wreak havoc on your adrenals.
Again, since sugar is an addictive substance, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, cravings, and changes in sleeping patterns. You’ll have to ride these symptoms out if you want to treat your adrenal fatigue as fast as possible [13, 14, 15, 16].
3. Avoid The Alcohol
Drinking alcohol causes drunkenness, dehydration, damages brain neurons, increases food cravings, skips REM sleep, and affects heart and liver health.
While alcohol may calm you down, it’s actually making things worse. Habitually drinking alcohol to reduce cortisol production can lead to poor immunity, increased inflammation, and disturbs sleep hygiene. Also, your liver has to stop everything it’s doing — like getting rid of excess adrenaline — so it can process the alcohol.
Finally, alcohol makes you enter deep sleep first then REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep later. REM sleep is easier to wake up from, so you may find yourself waking a few hours later instead of being asleep until morning. You may also wake up to use the bathroom since alcohol is a diuretic.
4. Put Aside Processed Junk Food
Processed junk food contains ingredients that you can’t even pronounce, let alone recognize. They also contain ingredients like caffeine, sugar, and unhealthy fat which you have to avoid while treating adrenal fatigue.
The problem here is that we usually buy processed junk food because it saves us time, effort, and money. You might even find salads that cost more than a cheeseburger.
Nonetheless, avoiding processed junk food as much as possible will help your adrenals recover more quickly.
Now, we’re not saying that all processed foods are junk since most food today undergoes some kind of processing.
What we recommend is eating “real” food. This means food that underwent as little processing as possible and that you prepared yourself. That way you know exactly what’s going into the food you eat [20, 21].
5. Don’t Go Too Low On Carbs
Carbs signal your hypothalamus (your body’s main hormone-signaler) that you are in a fed and relaxed state.
Many modern diets prescribe a high protein/fat and low carb protocol to lose weight and stay healthy. While these diets may be effective — and you might even be following one yourself — you may not want to go too low on carbs while treating adrenal fatigue.
Since carbs tell your hypothalamus that you’re in a fed and relaxed state, going too low on carbs stresses your brain and signals your adrenals to produce cortisol.
6. Have Some Healthy Fats
Your body needs fat and cholesterol to produce hormones. Some diets actually recommend a high fat intake instead of high protein to lose weight and to stay healthy and fit.
If your current diet needs you to restrict fat, you may want to ease up and increase consumption while treating adrenal fatigue.
You can also go for foods containing essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6) like raw sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, or flax seeds and raw cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, macadamias, and other nuts [24, 25].
7. Pick Your Protein
Our body needs protein for muscle mass which helps metabolism. It also helps your immune system stay strong and consuming it makes you feel full longer.
Choose quality protein from lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, and plant sources. Protein delivers the most nutrition when uncooked or lightly cooked. However, you have to make sure poultry and pork are cooked thoroughly to avoid microbes and that raw fish, shellfish, and beef aren’t contaminated as well.
Raw or lightly cooked eggs and goat’s milk and cheese can provide easily-digestible protein. Legumes and nuts may also be consumed with whole grains if you’re a vegetarian.
Do note, though, that some people are allergic to poultry, eggs, soy, nuts, or dairy. Make sure you’re not actually allergic to any of these foods before consuming them as allergic reactions will aggravate adrenal fatigue [26, 27].
8. Hook Up With Whole Grains
Lay off the regular breakfast cereals and fruits during treatment. These foods quickly convert into sugars which you already know causes fatigue.
Instead, go for brown rice, whole wheat, buckwheat, depearled barley, whole oats, dehulled millet, quinoa, and amaranth. These whole grains contain more fiber which means they’re metabolized more slowly, giving you a more sustained supply of energy and nutrients [28, 29].
A note of caution, though:
Some people find that cereals (even whole grain ones) actually aggravate their adrenal fatigue in the morning. You may need to experiment and see if it makes you feel better or worse.
9. Go For The Greens
Whole fruits and vegetables provide carbs, proteins, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, starchy and sugary fruits and vegetables quickly convert to sugar, so you’ll have to stick with the highly-colored and leafy variety.
You can eat them raw or slightly cooked. However, make sure to always cook cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower to neutralize any goitrogenic compounds.
Make sure to try different ways of preparing them as different cooking methods preserve different nutrients. For instance, high heat tends to lower vitamin c and folic acid but actually brings out carotenoids [30, 31].
10. Forego Intermittent Fasting
You’ll have to stop your intermittent fasting protocol if you’re on one.
While intermittent fasting does have its benefits, going long periods without food actually acts as a stressor during adrenal fatigue.
11. Try Ginseng In The Morning To Combat Fatigue
Traditional Asian medicines have used ginseng for centuries as a tool to help combat fatigue, and a recent survey at the University of Iowa confirmed that it does help increase some peoples energy levels.
12. Take In Plenty Of Essential Fatty Acids
Studies suggest that fatty acids can help with the symptoms of CFS, as viruses can hamper our cells ability to make these vital acids.
13. Try Carnitine Supplements
Carnitine is a natural substance found in our cells that transports long-chain fatty acids to our mitochondria, but many people with CFS have decreased levels of carnitine.
If you’re experiencing constant stress and any of the symptoms related to adrenal fatigue, you may need to step back and treat yourself.
Following these recommendations to clean up your diet will more than likely help you take the first step to recovery.
Health by choice, not by chance.