For individuals who experience a cycle of extreme fatigue and a boost of energy at specific times in a day, this may be an indication of adrenal fatigue. This condition is usually addressed with changes in the diet. So, what exactly is adrenal fatigue and what is the recommended adrenal fatigue diet?
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Dr. James L. Wilson proposed the condition called adrenal fatigue back in 1998. The chiropractor claimed that the adrenal glands experienced overstimulation due to chronic stress which led to inconsistent levels of the stress hormone called cortisol in the blood. Apart from the low or high level of cortisol, Dr. Wilson added that individuals with adrenal fatigue also do not have the appropriate levels of DHEA, which is a parent hormone in control of hormone production in the body.
Adrenal fatigue comes in three stages, and each stage is linked to a diverse form of cortisol imbalance. Moreover, individuals may progress from one stage to the next.
1. Stage 1
At this stage, an individual manifests high levels of cortisol, particularly at night. This leads to insomnia, abdominal weight gain, and insulin resistance. Moreover, an individual may feel energized but jittery.
2. Stage 2
Individuals at this stage often wake up at three in the morning. They may also face difficulties in trying to get back to sleep. Cortisol kicks in later in the day, thus, making an individual feel awake. The stress hormone starts early in the day, flats out again, before rising once again in the early evening.
3. Stage 3
This stage is also called the burnout stage. At this stage, an individual experience intense exhaustion despite getting more than six to seven hours of sleep. Furthermore, cortisol levels are curved, and a low level of thyroid hormone and DHEA is noted.
For individuals who suspect having adrenal fatigue, the following symptoms should be noted.
- Autoimmune Problems
- Brain Fog
- Body Ache
- Difficulty Getting Up in the Morning
- Difficulty Falling Asleep
- General Fatigue
- Hair Loss
- Mood Swings
- Mid-Afternoon Slump
- Weight Gain
The symptoms are quite general since adrenal fatigue involves an imbalance of hormones that affect the entire body. This makes it challenging to pin down the problem with the adrenal glands alone.
Healthcare practitioners claim that chronic, acute, or prolonged stress can lead to overloaded and ineffective adrenal glands. This, in turn, leads to the improper release of the stress hormone, cortisol. Some of the causes associated with the condition include the following.
- Emotional Trauma
- Exposure to Pollution and Environmental Toxins
- Food Sensitivities
- Lack of Sleep
- Lack of Exercise
- Negative Mindset
- Prolonged Exposure to Stress
- Poor Diet
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Reliance on Energy Drinks or Caffeine
- Stressful Experience (Divorce, Death of a Loved One)
Studies also claim that depression may cause adrenal fatigue. Cortisol responses may not return to normal, especially after a significant depressive experience.
Also, diabetic individuals or those who manifest symptoms of diabetes may also be at risk for this condition. According to research by the University of Delhi, people with diabetes manifest an extremely high level of stress response compared to individuals with normal levels of glucose.
Diet plays a significant role in the recovery of the adrenal glands. Food offers support for the adrenals. As with any other diet, there is food to avoid and food to consume in the adrenal fatigue diet.
Food to Avoid
- Caffeine: interferes with one’s sleep cycle. Moreover, it makes it difficult for an individual’s adrenal glands to recover. For those who depend on caffeine to function, it is advisable to drink a limited quantity early in the morning, right before noon.
- Sweeteners: and sugars should be avoided. This includes food high in fructose and sugar-laden food like sweets, candy, and cereals. Skip food that contains sugar as an additive. Opt for raw honey as a sweetener instead.
- Carbohydrates: can cause inflammation which is particularly a problem for individuals who are already experiencing adrenal fatigue. People who are stressed usually go for carbohydrate-rich food which may offer immediate satisfaction. However, it ends up stressing out the adrenals up a notch.
- Processed Food: contains a lot of fillers and preservatives that are difficult to digest which aggravates the body. Skip processed food and opt for home cooked meals instead.
- Processed Meat: can cause additional stress, specifically red meat such as steak and beef. Go for white meat such as free-range turkey or chicken. Grass-fed beef is also another option.
- Hydrogenated Oil: like corn oil, canola, and soybean are high in inflammatory compounds. This may further aggravate inflammation of the adrenals. Instead of vegetable oils, choose organic butter, olive oil, or coconut oil.
Food to Eat
Food that is easily digested and offers healing compounds should be included in the diet. Some of these include the following.
- Bone Broth
- Chia, Pumpkin, and Flax Seeds
- Cruciferous Vegetables
- Fatty Fish
- Free-Range Turkey or Chicken
- Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt
- Medicinal Mushrooms
Food that is fermented and packed with probiotics are also highly recommended. The foods mentioned above are rich in fat and fiber and low in sugar which may help an individual recover from adrenal fatigue.
Apart from following the diet specified for adrenal fatigue, timing one’s meals are also vital. Doing so helps support the adrenal glands and regulate blood glucose levels. Eat the required meals regularly in a day. Also, do not skip breakfast or lunch as it forces the body to use nutrients stored and reduces the body’s level of energy.
Eating regular, healthy, and balanced meals in a day maintain an individual’s appropriate level of energy and the normal cortisol levels.
When to See a Doctor?
The symptoms of adrenal fatigue such as fatigue and weakness may be a sign of an underlying condition such as depression, fibromyalgia, or sleep apnea. Moreover, adrenal fatigue may lead to life-threatening disorders involving the adrenal glands. For individuals who notice the symptoms mentioned below, it is best to seek immediate medical attention.
- Severe Diarrhea
- Severe Vomiting
- Sudden and Intense Pain in Abdomen, Legs, or Lower Back
- Loss of Consciousness