Part III - 3 Ways to Heal Adrenal Fatigue: Diet
by Dr. Alaina Gair, ND
After stress management (see 3 Ways to Heal Adrenal Fatigue - PART II), the next way to help your adrenal glands heal is through diet. With carefully curated food choices, we can eliminate things that stress the adrenals and slow down recovery – so you can get back to feeling your best!
Top 5 Things to Avoid and What to Eat Instead:
Caffeine stimulates cortisol and adrenaline release from the adrenal glands, masking symptoms of adrenal fatigue and messing with your sleep quality.
Replace With: more water and herbal teas to help your body through the withdrawal phase if you are dependent. These beverages have the added benefit of maintaining healthy hydration levels – an important part of mental clarity and staving off afternoon brain fog.
If you LOVE your coffee – limit to one a day. Coffee does have some benefits – as an antioxidant and at moderate intake can help regulate insulin and estrogen levels.
Tip: darker roasts have slightly less caffeine!
Sugar and Sweeteners
Sugar is controlled by cortisol, so high levels of dietary sugar tax the adrenals and slow recovery - this includes natural fruit sugar.
Replace With: lots of veggies! Bulking your diet with dark leafy greens help boost your antioxidant levels and encourages healthy liver functions for hormone and blood sugar balancing. Leafy greens have high amounts of magnesium, vitamin C, iron, chlorophyll and fiber that help support a healthy body and can also help curb sugar cravings. Acidity is also an issue for people with adrenal fatigue. The cruciferous veggies (think broccoli, cauliflower or kale) help manage acidity – balancing ph levels, reducing acidity and allowing healing of the adrenal glands.
Fruit: Keep it to a minimum and stay away from high glycemic index fruit – ex: banana, grapefruit, oranges, pineapple. Stick to apples, papaya, blueberries, pears, mango, cherries.
Processed Foods and Meats
These foods contain chemicals and preservatives that are difficult for the to digest and eliminate - slowing down the body and aggravating adrenal dysfunction. In addition, many processed foods are higher in refined carbohydrates that break down into high amounts of sugar in the blood stream.
Replace With: chicken and fish are great sources of complete protein that will give your body the building blocks it needs for recovery without causing additional trouble for the adrenal glands. Healthy protein sources also help keep energy levels up without blood sugar spikes.
Snack on nuts and seeds – these have the minerals that help with adrenal recovery and will help you stay away from chips/popcorn.
Hydrogenated oil can increase inflammation and prolong the time for the adrenals to recover as a result.
Replace With: healthy fats with high smoking points like avocado and coconut oil. Healthy fats will help with energy levels, keep you satiated and can improve your mood. Again, these foods are helping prevent blood sugar spikes which further deplete the adrenal glands.
Carbohydrates are broken down into sugar, so like sugar and sweeteners, these foods can cause additional taxing of the adrenal glands. More refined carbohydrates like white rice, pasta and breads can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes that drain the adrenals and slow recovery.
Replace With: lentils, beans and whole grains – these have a lower glycemic index and don’t impact the adrenals the same way as more refined carbohydrates. They are also a great source of protein and fiber! Pastas made entirely from legumes are available now and have amazingly high levels of protein per serving, especially in comparison to their wheat-based alternatives.
If you are in the Guelph area and would like help recovering from adrenal fatigue, book an appointment so I can help you feel like yourself again!