When you have adrenal fatigue the food that you eat can be either incredibly helpful for recovery or very harmful. That is why it is so important to avoid these 6 common foods if you are aiming for a healthy adrenal fatigue diet to help you recover.
If you live an extremely high-stress life, fueled by very necessary gallons of coffee, lattes, and espresso, you are a prime candidate for adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue has become so widespread in our fast-paced, technologically-intimidating world, it now sports its own acronym, AF.
Adrenal fatigue is a disorder caused by the exhaustion of our adrenaline-supplying adrenal glands. See, our body interprets stress as danger and starts flooding our body with adrenaline for fight or flight situations, until we completely deplete our adrenal stores.
In search for more adrenaline, our body begins stealing energy from our hormones like DHEA, progesterone, and cortisol. This cortisol imbalance sets off a rise in insulin and signals the body to begin storing fat for energy, slowing the metabolism, and preserving fat (in case you are starving and in danger: think “under siege”). So, if you seem to be gaining weight out of nowhere and yet you haven’t changed your diet or exercise regime, adrenal fatigue might be the culprit.
Adrenal fatigue is a real problem today. Some doctors recognize it, if you’re lucky. But more often, it is a naturopathic doctor or holistic practitioner you’ll need to talk to about adrenal fatigue. They are more likely to notice your adrenal fatigue symptoms and know how to test for it and treat it. Unfortunately, most regular doctors don’t offer this test, so you can either ask for one from a naturopathic doctor or order one yourself here.
The Importance of Replenishment and Rest
One of the most important things you need to know about adrenal fatigue is that you need to heal. In fact, treat your body like you are recovering from running a 22-mile marathon, because those ultimate marathon runners often end up with AF after those stressful events . . . and end up in the same place you are. Simply over-exercising can do this too.
First, let’s see if you even have it. Hopefully this symptom list will help you identify that…
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
- Feeling unusually fatigued all the time, often described as “my bones feel like lead.” (the hallmark of adrenal fatigue)
- An increasing inability/lack of desire to get out of bed .. . feelings of dread of rising in the mornings (this is a big one)
- Great dizziness when standing up after sitting
- Hair loss, especially around the outer eyebrow (common with Thyroid disorders, too)
- Heightened cravings for salt and sugary foods
- Fast weight gain, especially around the abdomen
- Low blood pressure
- Brain Fog
- Loss of Libido
- Food allergies and heightened allergic responses
The Importance of a Healthy Foods on any Adrenal Fatigue Diet
How we eat is drastically important for healing and protecting the adrenal glands. So, if you suffer from adrenal fatigue, you should strive for a diet plan that is full of healthy whole foods like grass-fed and pasture raised organic meats for good protein, lots of organic vegetables, healthy fats (avoid these fats) and blood-sugar stabilizing foods. You don’t want to go too low on carbs either since this can actually make adrenal fatigue worse (think healthy starches like sweet potatoes, plantains, butternut squash). You need to avoid anything that creates any kind of “roller-coaster-y” effects in the body.
The worst enemies of adrenal fatigue, like caffeine, alcohol, and sugar will spike blood sugar and further deplete you of very precious hormones; ones that work to keep you happy and energetic.
Foods to Avoid On Any Adrenal Fatigue Diet for Full Recovery:
When we eat sugar, our body signals the adrenals and pancreas to begin churning out more insulin and cortisol to process sugars. Long term use of sugar contributes to low levels of key hormones, like estrogen and cortisol (this is why adrenal fatigue causes the low libido). This further demand upon the stressed out adrenal glands, inhibits recovery from AF at every turn, leaving you even more exhausted.
Avoiding sugar might sound depressing for sugar lovers, but you cannot signal the body to begin the healing process until you do! Period. Click here for some great ideas on how to beat sugar cravings.
Soy is in our diet everywhere unless we take great steps to avoid it. Soy is a goitrogen, which blocks iodine absorption in our bodies (this is the source of AF salt cravings!). And women need iodine to avoid thyroid disorders of all kinds.
Dr. Lam, a specialist in everything adrenal fatigue suggests that soy is toxic for the body in several ways, contributing to hormonal imbalance by inhibiting the thyroid gland from producing our precious T3 and T4 hormones, ones that are drastically needed for our energy levels.
Soy is also a phytoestrogen (a compound that mimics real estrogen) and we need our real estrogen badly with adrenal fatigue. But soy begins competing with our natural estrogen, reducing its effects within our body. The result? Depression, weight gain, and a slowed metabolism (like with menopause).
One of the first things any endocrinologist will tell you to do if you have adrenal fatigue is to avoid any foods that you might be allergic or sensitive to and do not know it. Adrenal fatigue can aggravate and worsen food allergies, causing great stress in the body that leads to chronic fatigue. Plus, dairy contributes to part of that swollen middle you get with AF (some of that is inflammation, you know).
Even if you are not lactose intolerant you might be casein intolerant. Casein is a protein very similar in molecular structure to gluten, and most people who are gluten intolerant are casein intolerant too.
Alcohol is rich in simple carbs and is a quick stimulant that women with adrenal fatigue often crave. It is also one you should avoid like the plague. Alcohol is what is called a “naked carbohydrate.” It sets off a blood sugar rollercoaster that will worsen adrenal fatigue.
Alcohol’s harsh demands on the adrenal glands ultimately exhausts the system. Like sugar feasts and caffeine-filled drinks, alcohol might temporarily mask the symptoms of AF, but will ultimately lead to worse ones.
If you really want to heal from adrenal fatigue, you first have to unearth all the causes which could be contributing to and exacerbating this disorder. If gluten intolerance, which runs hand in hand with adrenal fatigue, is one of the causes behind your adrenal fatigue (and food allergies are just another form of stress upon the system), you need to address this if you can even hope to get better.
Gluten intolerance, like adrenal fatigue, causes like symptoms of inflammation, weight gain, and that draining fatigue you are experiencing.
And a undetected gluten sensitivity will send you into the late stages of AF if left unaddressed. As Dr. Lam explains in his great article on the adrenal fatigue-gluten connection, “Specific types of food tend to be the issue when the problem is caused by adrenal fatigue.” These foods can range from gluten to shellfish to nuts to dairy and soy.
Elimination diets are key in unearthing all disorders that are stressing your system and contributing to your adrenal fatigue in order to recover.
I left the hardest one for last. Part of the reason we can throw ourselves into the late stages of adrenal fatigue is that we’ve been using caffeine and other stimulants to get through the day.
But each cup of coffee or energy drink tells our adrenals to release our stress hormones again—further aggravating the very problem we are trying to heal.
In fact, it is the most counteractive behavior we can engage in, sadly.
This is why if you’re on your second pot of coffee and you have adrenal fatigue, you are probably getting less done than you could have had you let yourself wake up naturally or treated yourself to an energizing smoothie, some green tea, or white tea. Try it.
It works. I know it’s hard to believe but it does. And you can have some again when you’re better. But first you have to heal.
If you just go sit down instead of turning on that coffee pot in the morning, I bet you’ll see you have more natural energy than if you had the coffee. It’s because your body wants you to leave it alone.
Testing Your Adrenal Levels
The best way to really know what is going on is to test your adrenals with a salivary cortisol test. This helps you figure out whether your cortisol is too high or too low and can help you figure out a treatment plan. Most regular doctors don’t do cortisol tests for adrenal fatigue, so will have to see a naturopathic doctor who can order one for you or you can order one yourself here.
I get my adrenal test here and test every so often especially when I’m feeling off. I go over the test results with my nutritionist to figure out which supplements might be helpful as well as lifestyle changes. It’s best to consult with a naturopathic doctor about your adrenal fatigue, but using the tools in the The Adrenal Fatigue Solution book to help you understand your cortisol test can be very helpful as well.
More Adrenal Fatigue Resources:
- Ketogenic Diet: Why It’s Risky for People with Adrenal Fatigue
- AVOID This Type of Exercise If You Have Adrenal Fatigue
- 6 Best Supplements for Adrenal Fatigue
- 6 Best Foods for Adrenal Fatigue
Do you want to heal your Adrenal Fatigue for good?
Are you tired of the guesswork involved in treating your adrenal fatigue?
Are you frustrated that your doctor doesn’t understand your condition?
Are you ready to stop feeling tired all the time and take control of your health?
The Adrenal Fatigue Solution contains everything you need to start treating your Adrenal Fatigue.
Karin B. says…“Before I read The Adrenal Fatigue Solution, I was pretty depressed—I was still sluggish and still struggling with this weight gain and still needing my supplements. Now I’m hopeful—I see how I’ve been exercising wrong for my energy level, and how my diet has been fighting against my supplements. Not all of these changes are going to be easy, but now I know how I can start to improve my own health. It’s so encouraging to know that I have more control than I realized!”
About the author:
Rhonda McGary is a former literature and composition professor turned professional health and wellness content marketing specialist. She is also a certified chef and nutrition geek.
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