How to Heal from Adrenal Fatigue with Diet and Supplements

The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system which regulates bodily functions. The adrenal glands produce hormones that are critical for health including the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and hormones that regulate our sex hormones. Stress from physical or emotional pressures will trigger the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol as part of our survival mechanism. But some stressors, especially some emotional ones, do not stay for only a short period and can become chronic. These stressors such as divorce, the death of a loved one, or financial turmoil may lead to overworked adrenal glands, leading them to either release insufficient amounts of hormones at certain times or release too many hormones at other times to make up for the previous lack. The overworking of the adrenal glands and their erratic behavior, will lead, over time, to adrenal fatigue. The adrenals, when not functioning properly, will also affect other organ function, especially the heart, nervous system, the liver, and pancreas.

Till this day, the medical community is still not grasping the problem behind this disorder, and many suggest that there is not enough proof which shows that adrenal fatigue is real. [1] However, I know this to be a real and challenging condition to cope with, and the symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue are definitely real for those who suffer from the condition.

Till this day, the medical community is still not grasping the problem behind adrenal fatigue, and many suggest that there is not enough proof which shows that adrenal fatigue is real. [1] However, whatever the causes, this is a challenging condition to cope with, and the symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue are definitely real for those who suffer from the condition.

The common symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue are total body weakness, nervousness, body aches, digestive issues, weight loss, chronic fatigue, and low blood pressure. [2]

So what is there to do?

Like many health issues in life, adrenal fatigue can be dealt with by using a specific diet plan with the addition of certain supplements. 

However, the most straightforward advice is, of course, to try and avoid extended stress, and to ensure that you are caring for your body’s needs:

  1. Sleep sufficiently (go to bed earlier instead of wasting precious healing time by staying awake on social media or watching television. 
  2. Avoid drinking too much coffee or other stimulating beverages including energy drinks at least until your body heals.
  3. Eat sufficient foods that supply a wealth of nutrients to your body.

Adrenal Fatigue Diet and Supplementation

Firstly, even if adrenal fatigue is or isn’t real, the diet and supplementation connected with it can certainly be of help in alleviating the symptoms. [3]

An adrenal-friendly diet should consist of foods that will help regulate your blood sugar levels and supply a wealth of nutrients. 

You will want to eliminate or at least limit your intake of foods and drinks with processed sugar and unhealthy fats.

You want to ensure you have sufficient balanced meals every day with some healthy snacks in between. The best timing between meals in the case of adrenal fatigue is one and a half to maximum two and a half hours between meals. The adrenals have more difficulty coping with two to three heavy meals a day as blood sugar levels tend to drop between such meals, and the adrenals will need to release cortisol to keep you functioning during the day.  To help the adrenals heal, they will need less pressure on them, and this means that meals need to be regular throughout the day so that there will be no need for the release of cortisol when blood sugar levels become too low.

Having the right balance of all essential nutrients is also vital for proper adrenal function, therefore, consuming more vegetables and fruits is critical to healing.

My recommendation is to consume smaller but nutritious meals throughout the day. Eat a few nuts and dried fruit, eat a soya or coconut yogurt, eat some fruits, or a whole grain sandwich with tomatoes and kale, eat a portion of rice with lentils or any legume soup you find tasty. All of these suggestions are nutrient dense smaller meals that can readily be taken with you or found easily in any cafe.

Make sure to regularly include in your diet foods that are rich in nutrients, enzymes, and antioxidants that reduce inflammation and also help reduce stress.  These foods include berries, garlic, green leafy vegetables, and all sprouted foods.   

The foods you want to avoid are foods that put a strain on the adrenals including high fat and high protein meat and dairy products as well as high sugar products including refined carbohydrates and simple sugars. These products lead fat molecules to infiltrate the muscle tissue and the liver causing insulin resistance. This leads to problems regulating blood sugar levels, which presents immense stress on the adrenals.  Healthy whole carbohydrates actually reduce the pressure from the adrenals since they help maintain stable blood sugar levels.                                                                                                                 

A healthy, adrenal-friendly diet also necessities proper hydration. You need to make sure that you are well hydrated throughout the day since dehydration influences stress levels.

When it comes to supplements, I recommend doing a simple blood test that examines vitamin and mineral levels. Some vitamin and mineral deficiencies can worsen adrenal fatigue. If you do find that you suffer from a certain nutrient deficiency, then you will want to supplement it or ensure your diet will include more foods that are rich in any deficient nutrients.

There are also supplements that help the body cope better with stress, and these include:

  1. Siberian Ginseng and Panex Ginseng 
  2. Vitamin B-complex
  3. Rosehip
  4. Astragulas
  5. Rhodiola
  6. Magnesium
  7. Spirulina
  8. Omega-3 fatty acids [4] 

If you suffer from adrenal fatigue and change your diet accordingly to an adrenal-friendly menu that provides nutrient-dense foods and less processed ones and supplement your diet to both prevent nutrient deficiencies and to support your body in stress, then your body will heal itself within 1-6 months.

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Galit Goldfarb

References:

[1] Adrenal fatigue does not exist: a systematic review. Flavio A. Cadegiani and Claudio E. Kater. BMC Endocr Disord. 2016; 16(1): 48. doi: 10.1186/s12902-016-0128-4

[2] Clinical perspective on stress, cortisol, and adrenal fatigue. James L.Wilson DC, ND, Ph.D. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aimed.2014.05.002

[3] Nutrients and botanicals for treatment of stress: adrenal fatigue, neurotransmitter imbalance, anxiety, and restless sleep. Kathleen A. Head and Gregory S. Kelly. Alternative Medicine Review. 14.2 (June 2009): p114+.

[4] Fish oil prevents the adrenal activation elicited by mental stress in healthy men. Delarue J, Matzinger O, Binnert C, Schneiter P, Chioléro R, Tappy L. Diabetes Metab. 2003 Jun;29(3):289-95.