Managing Adrenal Fatigue: Diet + Lifestyle for Adrenal Support
What is Adrenal Fatigue
For an in-depth explanation about Adrenal Fatigue, signs, and symptoms, check out this blog post here.
At a basic level, Adrenal Fatigue is when the adrenal glands are so burnt-out or overworked that they stop being able to produce enough cortisol. Before we get to actual adrenal fatigue, we can over stress our adrenals and cause hormonal imbalances and unwanted symptoms, energy, weight, and fatigue.
Lifestyle + Dietary Support
Balance blood sugar:
Eat more meals, more frequently of smaller portions, and at regular intervals. For example, three small meals and three larger snacks. When we go long periods without eating, or if our carbohydrate ingestion is too low, we release cortisol in order to mobilize fats for fuel, and for the body to use cortisol as energy when it can’t get fuel from food. If you skip breakfast (which increases your chance of producing cortisol) and then have a cup of coffee (which increases your cortisol levels) you are increasing your blood sugar. This is only part of the equation though. You also do not want to eat too many carbohydrates especially refined carbohydrates and sugar. Make sure to get good fats at each meal, and consume proteins at each meal and snack. Exercising can increase insulin sensitivity, so this can also help to regulate blood sugar.
Clean Up Your Diet:
Eliminate any refined carbohydrates and sugar alcohols. Make sure to eat enough protein from good sources. (you can learn how to calculate your protein needs here) Quality sources of protein include: 100% grass fed animal meats, organs, and bone broths/collagen, pastured eggs, wild fish, organic/sprouted lentils and beans, organic vegetables, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and raw nuts. Eat quality fats coming from whole foods like coconut and coconut oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
It may seem difficult to get a good night’s rest but this is crucial to beating the high levels of stress hormones. Get to sleep before 10:00pm, as the time of 10pm to 2am are dominated by energetic and fiery "pitta" energy. Falling asleep before these hours will help you get to sleep before that second wind of energy hits. These are also the hours that the adrenals and kidneys do the most regeneration so it’s important to be sleeping during these hour in order for these organs to heal.
Find the sweet spot for exercise, not too much, not too little. Exercise can be a stress relief and can help us tackle the demands of life. Keeping exercise under an hour and limit the time spent putting our more than 65% of your effort is a good rule of thumb. It might also be a good time to trade spin class for a yoga class, and maybe occasionally, sleep in instead of going to the gym.
Don’t drink caffeine or use any other “pick-me-up drug. These only cause “tired but wired” effect and put more stress on the body. As I mentioned above, coffee raises our blood sugar and promotes the production of cortisol. You want to especially reduce consumption during times of stress.
I am a total coffee lover, so when I know there are extra demands on my life, I make sure to consume coffee with other foods, like with breakfast or a post workout meal. If it is not around meal time, I add coconut milk, coconut oil, mushroom powders, and cinnamon to my coffee to get a boost of adaptagens (from the mushrooms), and help stabilize my blood sugar.
Remove toxins from your environment. Buy organic sheets, cleanup your medicine cabinet, eliminate chemical ridden cosmetics, be sure no mold is growing in your house, bring plants into your home, filter your water, use low voc products and paint. Forcing the body to process high levels of toxins is a huge stressor, and can also be a reason that we hold on to body fat.
Eliminate Food Allergies:
Food allergies alone can be a huge stressor on the body. Even if you don’t feel stress, but your internal systems are over working, this can contribute to dysregulated hormones. Insure a food allergy is not present, and avoid all food sensitivities that are known to cause gut disturbances. These put stress on the body. This is one of the biggest things I do with clients, we go through allergy testing, review the results, look for the root cause and create customized plans to move forward, heal the gut, change food habits, and learn how to eat without these allergens.
Eliminate or reduce stressors if possible. If it is not possible to clean up your responsibilities and pressures, then learn how to relax, even in the midst of stressors. Practice time management, habitualize therapeutic activities like journaling or meditation, practice yoga, take walks, spend time alone, and spend time outside.
If you want to know more about what supplements are right for you, check out my other blog post on Nutrients for Adrenal Fatigue here. And as always, I am open for one-on-one consultations to give you personalized recommendations.