Adrenal fatigue refers to a collection of symptoms that appear when the adrenal glands become exhausted and start to struggle to keep up with the demands of the body. (1) This is often the result of chronic stress, insufficient sleep, and a lack of nutrients in the diet.
In the face of the causes outlined above, your body and immune system respond by slowing down. Your adrenal glands in turn produce hormones such as cortisol to counter the stress. If the stress continues for too long, your adrenal glands simply cannot keep up with the demand, which is when adrenal fatigue sets in.
When living with adrenal fatigue, it’s important to follow an adrenal fatigue diet that focuses on helpful foods and eliminates harmful ones. (2)
Adrenal fatigue symptoms include:
- Body aches
- Unexplained weight loss
- Low blood pressure
- Feeling lightheaded
- Loss of body hair
- Skin discoloration
- Inability to handle stress
- A weakened immune system
Because some of these symptoms do appear alongside conditions other than adrenal fatigue, it’s important to see a medical professional to rule out alternate causes.
If other diseases are absent, a naturopath may diagnose you with adrenal fatigue and recommend that you make a number of dietary changes to get your body back on track.
Many of these changes focus on combatting chronic stress, which is a major contributor to adrenal fatigue.
At the end of this article, we’ll explore some stress-specific lifestyle tips for combatting adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal Fatigue Diet: What To Eat
1. Coconut Products
Coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut meat support the adrenal glands. A study published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine found that coconut oil’s antioxidant and anti-stress properties help reduce the weight of the adrenal glands, which helps heal fatigue. (3)
2. Healthy Fats
The body needs healthy fats to naturally help regulate the adrenal glands. Add foods like avocado, walnuts, almonds, and olive oil to your diet to fill up on healthy fats and help your body fight adrenal fatigue.
Saturated and trans fats are two unhealthy varieties that you should avoid when combatting adrenal fatigue.
These fats live in foods such as butter, margarine, beef, and high-fat dairy foods.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and chard are superfoods that are rich in nutrients for the adrenal glands. Seaweed is also an important addition to the adrenal fatigue diet. It contains iodine and other essential minerals that help normalize adrenal secretion. (4)
4. Helpful Supplements
Adrenal gland supplements that can cure adrenal fatigue fast include adaptogen herbs and Vitamin B12. Adaptogen herbs such as ashwagandha, rhodiola, holy basil, licorice root, maca root, and ginseng help the body handle stress. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in maintaining the health of the adrenal glands. Adrenal fatigue is often linked to a B12 deficiency. Supplementing with Vitamin B12 can help provide much-needed support to the adrenal gland. (5)
Adrenal Fatigue Diet: What To Avoid
A study from the Duke University Medical Center concluded that “caffeine may exaggerate sympathetic adrenal-medullary responses to the stressful events of normal daily life.” (6) In other words, too much caffeine will burn out your adrenal glands.
This is especially true if coffee makes you jittery. For people without adrenal fatigue, the jitters may not be the worst thing in the world. But if you’re living with adrenal fatigue, those jitters can make you even more stressed and counteract any benefits you might receive from coffee.
A diet full of processed sugar can lead to many health problems, including adrenal fatigue. Sugar burns out the adrenal glands which causes them to work harder and leads to fatigue. Cut out packaged and processed foods that contain sugar.
Sugar, of course, also causes a spike in your blood-sugar levels. This can in turn cause sleep issues, headaches and cravings for for unhealthy foods. All of these effects can lead to worsened stress, which can of course worsen your adrenal fatigue.
3. Potential Allergens
Food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances prevent the body from absorbing and using the nutrients it needs. Consuming potential allergens could lead to inflammation and the growth of unhealthy bacteria in the gut, which weakens the immune system. (7) Pay close attention when consuming foods such as dairy, gluten, soy, peanuts and fish.
Alcohol is harsh on the adrenal glands. It’s rich in simple carbs that can spike blood sugar levels. Alcohol should be avoided as it can worsen adrenal fatigue symptoms and exhaust the adrenal glands. (8)
A Word On Stress
Throughout this article, we’ve highlighted the role stress can play in causing adrenal fatigue.
Here are a few quick stress reduction tips that should help you in this area.
1. Get Outside
Research consistently shows that getting out in nature is an extremely potent stress reliever.
In the urban environments many of us spend our time in, there’s so much stimuli. The sensory overload we experience can slowly increase our stress levels over time.
Get in the habit of leaving the hustle and bustle, even if it’s just a trip to a park once a week.
There are several essential oils that reduce stress. These include:
- Clary Sage
Give one of these oils a try. Place it in a diffuser and let the aroma fill your living or working space.
3. Take A Salt Bath
Bathing in an epsom salt bath every once in a while can help insert some calm into your life.
This is thanks to the magnesium in epsom salt.
Use 1 to 2 cups of epsom salt for your bath.
Remember – check with a medical professional!
Many of the strategies in this article are good life habits that should increase your overall health.
Before you attempt to treat a specific condition, however, you should always check in with a medical professional. They’ll be able to look at your case on a detailed level and figure out exactly what’s going on.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s easy to misinterpret symptoms. As such, it’s always a good idea to receive a specialized, one-on-one consultation to rule out anything else.