Is a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diet Compatible with an Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome Diet?

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

Chronic fatigue syndrome diet and stressChronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) are both debilitating conditions that both saddle the sufferer with extreme fatigue, unexplained pains, and impaired cognitive function, among other symptoms. They are not the same, but adrenal dysfunction may play a role in CFS. Many AFS sufferers also report symptoms more closely associated with CFS; and factors that contribute to CFS, such as chronic stress and infection, also contribute to the weakening adrenal function characteristic of AFS. Following the chronic fatigue syndrome diet may help.

When the body is under stress, as in CFS or AFS, there are many other systems affected, which may explain some similarities and why certain treatments work for both. In understanding both AFS and CFS, it is important to understand the role of the neuroendocrine metabolic (NEM) Stress Response. This response is body-wide and made up of six systems which include inflammatory, detoxification, metabolism, hormonal, neuroaffective and cardionomic. The important systems in CFS are the detoxification, metabolism, and inflammatory. These are addressed by low stress and healthy diet, such as the chronic fatigue syndrome diet.

Chronic fatigue Syndrome diet as recoveryWhile the definitive root cause of CFS is unknown and no medical cure exists, lifestyle changes to reduce stress and improve nutritional health are known to have powerful restorative effects for sufferers. Similarly, AFS presently has no existing medical recovery options, but stress reduction, dietary changes, and nutritional supplementation have driven many successful recoveries. This suggests that excess stress and suboptimal nutrition may be causative factors in both conditions, plus many more. In fact, improper lifestyle and suboptimal nutrition can be the root problem of most chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.

Let’s take a closer look and compare between suggestions for recovery diets taken from various sources for each of these two conditions:

The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diet

Recommended Diet for Recovery
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Diet Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome Diet
Eat at least 3 small or moderately sized meals with 1 snack in between and at bedtime. Eat frequent, small meals starting before 8am, with snacks throughout the day and at bedtime.
Aiming to eat one-third protein to two-thirds complex carbohydrate with each meal. Snacks should include protein rich food such as low fat natural yoghurt, half a hard-boiled egg, or a handful of seeds. Combine fat, protein, and whole grains at every meal and snack.
Include low glycemic index complex carbohydrates, but avoid any refined sugar or flour. Consume moderate amounts of whole, unrefined grains, but avoid refined flour products such as pasta, white rice, bread, pastries and, baked goods
Include servings of fruits and vegetables in diet, but watch fructose intake from fruits. Eat 6-8 servings of a wide variety of bright colored vegetables. Limit intake of fruits, especially in the morning and avoid dried fruits and fruit juices.
Make sure to include high quality proteins such as meat, fish, dairy such as cheese or milk, nuts and other sources. Make sure to get good quality protein and fats from sources such as meat, fish, fowl, eggs, dairy, nuts and legumes
Balance intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but avoid fried foods and saturated fats. Avoid deep-frying, browning, and trans fats. Do not cook with saturated or polyunsaturated fats or oils, but add some essential oils and monounsaturated fats to raw or already cooked food.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks. Don’t consume sugar or caffeine from coffee, tea, black tea, hot chocolate, alcohol, colas or chocolates. Stay well-hydrated at all times.
Make sure your overall diet is anti-inflammatory, has plenty of antioxidants, and avoid foods that you might be allergic or sensitive to. Avoid foods you are addicted, allergic or sensitive to in order to avoid creating stress on your body. Avoid food high in potassium.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome diet and healthMany of the dietary recommendations are definitely similar across the two conditions, with a lot of focus on making sure meals and snacks are eaten frequently, in small portions, and balanced in nutrition. Stimulatory foods are to be avoided for both conditions. If you have any doubt, concentrate on the Adrenal Fatigue Diet as it also covers CFS.

For those with concurrent CFS and AFS, this is welcomed news, as it is difficult enough dealing with both conditions normally. It is no surprise then, that following the proper recovery protocol for AFS with the right diet, stress reduction, and careful nutritional supplementation can alleviate, and for some people, even improve all of the symptoms of CFS.

Chronic fatigue syndrome diet and stress
5 -
I was interested in ayurveda a long time ago and then recently found your web site with such a nice clear list. I never followed the dietary recommendations until now. I can tell you that I have made slow but sure changes over the last 9 months or so and have gone down 2 dress sizes from size 12 to size 8 (ta da!!) and also all my acne has cleared up. I do not know if taking progesterone has also helped with weight loss. I have been on it for about 2 months. Thank you for having a list available online and also for listing the foods to avoid for weight loss. I am still waiting for my skin problems and allergies to clear up but so far not yet. I think I have severe systemic yeast problems.