Preventing and Healing from Adrenal Fatigue in the Modern World

There’s no doubt – there are too many demands on most people. From work, school, family, and everything else, we’re pulled in too many directions and end up tired and overdone.

But are you more than tired? If you can’t ever seem to catch up on sleep or struggle with things like dizziness, brain fog, severe allergies, or other physical ailments you just can’t seem to remedy, you might be dealing with adrenal fatigue.

More than just tiredness, adrenal fatigue means your body is literally overdone. It can’t keep functioning at the same level, so it compensates by shifting your system into survival mode. And nobody wants to live in survival mode for long.

The modern lifestyle stacks the odds against us and can lead to adrenal fatigue, but that doesn’t mean we’re doomed. In fact, there’s a lot we can do to keep ourselves healthy. Here are my top tips for keeping your adrenals in good shape, even in the modern world.

  • Leave yourself time to sleep for 8 hours per night – that means you’re in bed, ready to go to sleep by 10 if you need to be awake at 6. If possible, use an alarm clock that wakes you up gently by monitoring your sleep cycles (I like activity bracelets that wakes you up by vibrating on your wrist like the Jawbone Up24 or the app Sleep Cycle for this purpose).
  • Limit your exposure to blue light by using orange glasses or installing apps like F.lux on your computer.
  • Eat on a regular basis and don’t go too long without meals – if you’re worried about your stress level or think you might already have adrenal fatigue, I’d highly caution you against skipping breakfast (or any meal, for that matter) regularly. Getting a high protein breakfast in the morning stabilizes your blood sugar throughout the day, which in turn helps to keep your HPA axis functioning appropriately.
  • Don’t skimp on healthy carbohydrates like fruit and starchy tubers if you’re worried about your adrenal health, especially if you’re also engaging in high intensity exercise. A moderate carbohydrate diet is best for those with high stress levels or recovering from adrenal fatigue.
  • When you do eat carbohydrates, combine them with protein and fat to slow absorption and stabilize your blood sugar.
  • Start a mind-body activity practice like meditation or yoga to reduce mental and emotional stress. The benefits of implementing a stress management practice grow over time, so the sooner you start, the better!

– via Chris Kresser

You Get Out What You Put In

So often our health really does come down almost entirely to what we eat.

The fuel you give your body – or deprive from your body – could be the deciding factor for how well you can handle, and recover from, stress.

By giving yourself the right nutrients at the right time, it’s like wearing armor against the day. No matter what stress you face, your body has a better shot at combatting it well and coming out healthier than you went in.

1. Adrenal Fatigue Diet

In every case of adrenal recovery, diet is a huge factor. There are a number of foods that support adrenal function. They help replenish your adrenal energy so your system can come back to full health. But first you must start by removing any hard-to-digest foods and any toxins or chemicals in your environment.

The idea is to remove anything that taxes your adrenals. Foods to avoid include:

Caffeine: This can interfere with your sleep cycle and make it hard for your adrenals to recover. If you must drink coffee or a caffeinated beverage, then have a limited amount in the morning before noon.

Sugar and sweeteners: Includes avoiding high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners as well. Avoid sugary foods, cereals, candy, sweets, etc. Be aware that sugar is an additive in many breads, condiments and dressings. Try to avoid as much extra sugar as possible. Seek the benefits of raw honey or stevia as an alternative.

Processed and microwaved foods: First of all, the microwave has its own dangers, but additionally, most microwaveable foods have many preservatives and fillers that are hard to digest and wear out your body’s energy and digestion cycle. Try to buy food on the outer walls of your grocery store and prepare your own food whenever possible.

Hydrogenated oils: Vegetable oils like soybean, canola and corn oil are highly inflammatory and can lead to adrenal inflammation. Try to only use good fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, organic butter or ghee.

Next, you want to add nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest and have healing qualities. Some of the top superfoods for adrenal health include:

  • Coconut
  • Olives
  • Avocado
  • Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc.)
  • Fatty fish (e.g., wild-caught salmon)
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
  • Seeds, such as pumpkin, chia and flax
  • Kelp and seaweed
  • Celtic or Himalayan sea salt

These foods help overcome adrenal insufficiency because they’re nutrient-dense, low in sugar, and have healthy fat and fiber.

2. Adrenal Fatigue Supplements

Another big key to overcoming adrenal fatigue is taking the right supplements. I always recommend eating the right foods to heal your body. However, due to soil depletion (from over-farmed and unhealthy farming practices), much of the fruits and vegetables don’t have the same amount of nutrition that they did even 50 years ago.

Thus, certain adrenal-boosting nutrients are needed to get your adrenal function back up, such as:

  • Ashwagandha
  • Holy basil
  • Fish oil (EPA/DHA)
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D3
  • Zinc

Taking these supplements in their whole-food form could greatly improve your symptoms of adrenal insufficiency.
– via Dr. Axe

How does your diet line up with these suggestions? Do you think you could be suffering from adrenal fatigue?