Diet is an important part of optimal health for every human being, but especially those who suffer from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). Researchers are now concluding that the majority of chronic illnesses, approximately 80%, are caused by environmental factors. Adrenal fatigue falls into this category. It is a debilitating ailment brought on by long-term external stressors that have caused our bodies to operate inefficiently. Systems become imbalanced, hormones are out of range, fatigue kicks in, and organs begin to shut down. AFS is a debilitating health condition that needs to be properly addressed, and one of the keys to recovery and prevention is a proper adrenal fatigue diet.
The Adrenal Fatigue Diet and Stress
Stress is inevitable. But if not dealt with properly, it will destroy your body. One of the main tools we are given to keep our body healthy both physically and mentally is our diet. A poor diet can put a major strain on the entire body, including the adrenal glands, increasing the risk of suffering from adrenal fatigue. The more the adrenals are exhausted and stressed, the less they can absorb nutrients or tolerate medications, even in small doses. Adopting the proper adrenal fatigue diet can better equip your body to deal with stress, both internally and externally.
By consuming a healthy adrenal fatigue diet, you ensure you are providing your body with the highest quality fuel it needs to function. With nutrient-dense foods, the body is nourished at a cellular level and can begin healing the damaged internal organs, including the adrenals. Hormones will rebalance and a quality of life without the imposition of chronic fatigue can be reclaimed.
Follow a Meal Schedule
The timing of a meal is just as important as the food content when it comes to the adrenal fatigue diet. Meals must be made with precisely the right combination of nutrients at just the right time. With the busy schedules that our society has developed today, it is not a wonder how and why so many people have developed poor eating habits. They are always on the run, meals are grabbed through drive-throughs or thrown together haphazardly when it’s convenient. Times set aside for eating become far apart, meals become fried and heavily processed, and the body cannot digest or use half of what is consumed. And most often, what is consumed does more harm than good.
When food is consumed at random intervals, additional stress is placed on the adrenal glands to keep the body functioning. Blood sugar levels spike, causing insulin to be produced in order to try to bring down the sugar levels, giving rise to a feeling of hunger soon after eating. Then the adrenal glands become overstressed in trying to regulate the sugar levels with the hormone cortisol. It is important to eat at regular, fixed times even when you are away from home, and never going more than 2 to 3 hours without eating.
The following schedule is an ideal time frame for eating on the adrenal fatigue diet:
- Breakfast. When following the adrenal fatigue diet, you should eat breakfast between 6:00 am and 8:00 am, shortly after waking, and never later than 10:00 am. Your glycogen reserves are low after a night of sleep. Eating early replenishes the body and keeps it stable and healthy. Your breakfast should not consist of any fruits or fruit juices as they are high in sugar content and can cause your blood sugar to spike and crash.
- Snack. Keeping your body replenished with food and water is essential for optimal health. Around 10:00 am, have a healthy snack of nuts or lean protein sources.
- Lunch should be eaten around 12:00 pm.
- Snack. Eat another healthy snack between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm.
- Dinner. Dinner should be eaten between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm.
Meals should be small and frequent with the goal of keeping healthy nutrients running through the body at all times. Eat at a steady pace, and do not rush through your designated dining time. A hectic or rushed meal means more work and more stress for both your digestive system and your body.
Always Choose Organic
When choosing the healthiest foods to consume, you should always opt for organics whenever possible. Everyone should eat organic, but if a person is suffering from AFS, their body is even more susceptible to the toxins non-organic foods contain. They act like poison to the body and add additional stresses internally that could otherwise be avoided.
Here are the most important reasons why you should always buy organic foods when on the adrenal fatigue diet:
- They do not use genetically modified organisms or more commonly known as GMO’s. Genetically modified ingredients are unhealthy and have been linked to imbalances, allergies, and other harmful ailments.
- Organic foods are safe and pure containing no toxic pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, nano-particles, or climate-destabilizing chemical fertilizers.
- Consumers are less likely to suffer from E. coli, salmonella, campylobacter, or MRSA when they purchase foods from humane, clean, and conscious-minded facilities.
- Organic farms prohibit the use of sewage sludge on their lands.
- Animals on organic farms cannot be fed slaughterhouse waste, manure, or blood. They are treated and cared for humanely, offering a healthier source of by-products and foods in return.
- Organic food is more nutritionally dense. Studies have shown that organic foods contain more vitamins, important trace minerals that would otherwise be lacking, and cancer-fighting antioxidants.
When the body is suffering from adrenal fatigue or other chronic illnesses, it is important to obtain the healthiest and most nutrient-fortified foods possible. Choosing organic is the wisest choice.
Avoid Junk Food and Sweets
Soda, candy bars, and chips may be the easiest thing to grab for when you are in a hurry and in a time crunch. They’ll even curb your appetite for a few hours to hold you over between meals, but you should avoid this urge! Prepare for your day by packing healthy foods on the go and become knowledgeable about your decisions. Sugar could very well be the single worst ingredient in the modern diet and is probably one of the leading causes of many of the epidemics of chronic illnesses that have risen out of the western diet.
Glucose is essential for the body and if it is not received from the diet, the body can produce it from the fats and proteins that it receives. It can be metabolized by every cell in the body to produce energy. On the other hand, fructose is foreign and harmful to our body. It is not essential to our body in any way. The only organ that can metabolize fructose is the liver, and even that is limited in its capacity. When too much sugar enters the liver, it gets turned into fat.
If you are craving a snack, or something sweet, opt for fruits. Fruit is a real food filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water that is digestible and properly tolerated and appreciated by the body.
What Should I Eat on the Adrenal Fatigue Diet?
Following the adrenal fatigue diet will provide you with the healthiest food choices available. You will want to make this a lifestyle change that you continue on even after your adrenal fatigue recovery.
The bulk of your diet will consist of fresh vegetables. Eating vegetables provides an extensive amount of health benefits that are vital for the maintenance of your body. People who eat veggies as part of their healthy diet have a reduced risk of developing many chronic illnesses. They are low in fat and calories, and none of them have cholesterol. Thirty to forty percent of the adrenal fatigue diet should consist of vegetables. Vegetables should be eaten raw or lightly steamed to retain all the nutrients, and served with a healthy fat like olive oil or coconut oil to help absorb the fat-soluble nutrients.
- Seaweed and sea vegetables are easily digestible and contain a variety of essential trace nutrients that are beneficial in the AFS recovery process.
- You’ll want to make sure 6 to 8 servings of vegetable are from brightly colored vegetables, as they are excellent sources of phytonutrients, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, which are unique and hard to find otherwise.
- Baby vegetables and sprouted vegetables are very highly concentrated with nutrients and are a great choice.
20 to 30 percent of the adrenal fatigue diet should come from lean protein.
20 to 30 percent should come from healthy fats such as nuts and seeds. Soaking nuts and seeds makes them easier for digestion and improves the availability of their nutrients for absorption.
The remaining amount should come from whole grains, legumes, and whole fruits.
Helpful Tips to Make Your Dietary Transition a Bit Easier
Making lifestyle changes isn’t always easy, even when it is in your best interest to do so. When incorporating the adrenal fatigue diet into your life, it is recommended to start slow and make progressive changes day by day. Getting professional help from a nutritionist or someone who specializes in an adrenal diet for support and accountability can be very helpful during this transition time. Be sure to ask your doctor or healthcare practitioner before starting any new dietary regimes or new food products. If you suffer from adrenal fatigue, your body is extremely sensitive and could have reactions to foods that were at one time not bothersome.
- Avoid table salt when seasoning your foods as it is heavily processed, lacks minerals, and usually contains additives to prevent it from clumping. Pink Himalayan salt and sea salt are both great and healthy alternatives. They can help in correcting the body’s level of sodium while adding flavor and nutrients.
- The adrenal fatigue diet also recommends that you drink plenty of pure water to help flush toxins from the body and ease the toxin load on the organs.
- Avoid fruits such as bananas, oranges, and dried fruits like raisins, dates, and figs, as they are high in potassium and can exacerbate the sodium-potassium ratio, making adrenal fatigue even worse.
- Eliminate refined carbohydrates including white rice, pasta, breads, and pastries as they cause a severe spike and drop in sugar levels leading to hypoglycemia symptoms.
- Do not consume caffeine or other stimulants. They make the body work harder than it can sustain for long terms and can lead to adrenal crashes.
- Remove alcohol and other foods that cause the body to react aversively as they elicit unnecessary stressful reactions.
- Your protein should come from multiple sources of high-quality foods such as legumes, eggs, animals, fowl, and fish. This provides for a more well-rounded nutrition.
- Using a digestive aid or enzyme supplement can help break down fibrous foods and proteins, reducing the stress in the GI tract and improving digestive function.
- Do not cook with polyunsaturated fats such as corn, peanut, sunflower, and safflower oils as they contain essential fatty acids that transform into unhealthy forms with heat. However, they are safe to add to foods after they have been cooked.
The adrenal fatigue diet offers the solution for complete nutritious meal plans for optimal health. It offers several ways to develop excellent eating habits for both the body and mind. By eliminating sugar crashes and keeping energy levels stable, you will feel better throughout the day and achieve greater health and longevity.
© Copyright 2004 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
How important is following the Adrenal Fatigue Diet for recovery?
Following the Adrenal Fatigue Diet is crucial for recovering from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, or AFS. Proper nutrition is one of the key components to healing the adrenal glands and there are certain foods that must be avoided to ensure additional stress is not placed on the body.