Good News for Adrenal Fatigue Sufferers – Big Food Companies are Changing

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

The prevalence of big food companies

A man eating food from big food companies directly out of a canOver the past several decades, the average person’s diet has gone from primarily fresh, whole foods, to increasingly highly processed foods from big food companies containing a variety of artificial ingredients lacking in nutritional value. Initially, food processing was done to improve shelf life and to prevent food-borne illness. However, over time, more and more artificial ingredients have been added to food, including artificial colors intended not to improve flavor or quality but simply to give food unnaturally bright coloring. Heavier processing results in ingredients that, while still technically natural, become unrecognizable. Add this to the increase in artificial ingredients, including artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, and one has to wonder what modern food production is doing to our bodies.

The modern lifestyle, including a greater reliance on heavily processed foods and constant stress, has led to a rise in a variety of ailments, including Adrenal Fatigue. A dysregulation in the metabolic and inflammatory responses of the NeuroEndoMetabolic stress response system is common in people with Adrenal Fatigue. As the body becomes increasingly inflamed and metabolically unbalanced, this can present itself as a increase in sensitivity to food, especially processed foods that are genetically modified or non-organic, as they often have extra toxins and unnatural additives that the body has to process.

But there is good news. Consumers are now voting with their dollars for healthier food, and the top 25 biggest food companies have lost $18 billion in market share over the past five years. As a result, big food companies are changing to meet the demand. Here are a few recent announcements from these big food companies and an explanation of what they mean for you.

Yoplait Reduces Sugar Content

Moderating sugar intake is crucial for Adrenal Fatigue recovery. Yoplait has announced they are cutting sugar content by 25%, to 18 grams in each 150-calorie cup. This is still quite a bit of sugar, but is an improvement.

The company has a record of following through on making their products healthier. They have already stopped using high fructose corn syrup and aspartame, both just as bad as sugar for Adrenal Fatigue sufferers because of their addictive and insulin-tricking properties. The company has also stopped using milk from cows that have been given growth hormones. While it is still best to enjoy Yoplait in moderation in order to limit sugar intake, eating a cup occasionally doesn’t have to ruin your day.

Panera Releases Ban List

A tub of margarine, an unhealthy product of big food companiesPanera will ban more than 150 artificial ingredients by the end of 2016. This move solidifies Panera’s commitment to providing healthy fare, as they already don’t use nearly half of the ingredients on the list. These ingredients are included as a promise that Panera has no intention of using those ingredients in the future.

Among the banned ingredients on Panera’s list are trans fats and trans fatty oils. This important because your body needs a certain amount of healthy fat in order to produce hormones, but trans fats displace the healthy fats and interfere with hormone production. The adrenal glands produce the needed hormones by using cholesterol as the building block. When the adrenal glands are forced to work harder without the correct nutrients, it can lead to fatigue and further stress to the whole system.

Subway, Nestlé, and Kraft are Cutting Artificial Dyes

Many artificial colors are known toxins: red #3, in particular, is a thyroid carcinogen. Dying food really serves no purpose beyond making it visually more attractive, but most colors can be achieved naturally, without artificial dyes (many of which are petroleum-based).

Subway has vowed to stop using artificial colors altogether, while Nestlé is removing them from 250 of their products. Kraft has promised to stop using them in their macaroni and cheese in favor of natural alternatives; however, they are still using them in other products. We hope they will expand on this promise to include more products in the near future.

Tyson, McDonald’s, and Subway are Reducing Antibiotics

Antibiotics place a huge burden on your endocrine system and can lead to an overgrowth of yeast. Even if you haven’t taken antibiotics for infection recently, it is likely that you are still consuming a surprising amount in the food you eat. Upon the discovery that meat with antibiotics has been associated with a rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, McDonald’s and Tyson both decided to stop using chicken supplemented with antibiotics. We hope they will expand this decision to include beef and pork as well.

When Subway decided to stop using artificial flavors and colors, they came under fire from environmental groups regarding their use of antibiotics. In response, they pledged to phase out meat containing antibiotics within the next ten years, beginning with chicken.

Chipotle and Cheerios to remove GMOs

Genetically modified organisms are at the center of a heated debate. Many scientists, especially those employed by Monsanto and other companies in the industry, insist that GMOs are no different from their unmodified counterparts and are perfectly safe. However, some research suggests that GMOs may contribute to autoimmune disease, infertility, obesity, diabetes, and other health conditions. The fact is, research into the safety of GMOs is limited, and when you’re already struggling with a condition such as Adrenal Fatigue, you don’t want to take chances with untested technology. An Australian study found that pigs that were fed a diet high in GM foods for an extended period had significantly higher rates of stomach inflammation.

Chipotle is now making tortillas made without GM ingredients and refusing to use GM oils, while General Mills has removed GM cornstarch and sugar from Cheerios. According to The Center for Food Safety, a demand for non-GM ingredients on the part of General Mills could significantly change the face of modern agriculture.


A young woman eating a salad, which big food companies likely contributed toThe best diet for beating Adrenal Fatigue is one that consists primarily of fresh, whole food that is as close to its natural state as possible. Whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods contain more nutrients than heavily processed foods.

However, when you’re really busy or exhausted, preparing your own food isn’t always practical. If you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue, the idea of even preparing a meal or carefully reading food labels can be overwhelming. So when you need the simplicity of prepared food, you want it to be as nutritious as possible to give your body the strength to recover. Supporting the big food companies that are listening to consumers and using fewer toxic and unhealthy ingredients will also encourage them to continue making healthier food and may persuade other companies to follow suit.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

A young woman eating a salad, which big food companies likely contributed to