Adrenal fatigue is the disability of the adrenal glands to function normally. This occurs when stress – physical, mental, emotional, situational, environmental, and others – exceeds the body’s capacity to withstand it.
Each individual has their own ability to withstand stress, that is, every individual reacts differently to stress. However, those who are under intense emotional and physical pressure or those who suffer from illnesses, allergies, malnutrition etc. may be more prone to adrenal fatigue.
To know more about adrenal fatigue, it is important to know about the adrenal glands. Let’s examine what the adrenal glands consist of and how stress affects their functioning.
Adrenal Glands And The Impact Of Stress
The adrenal glands consist of two parts: the medulla and the cortex. When the body receives a threat or undergoes stress, both these parts of the adrenal glands respond differently.
- The medulla sets off the flight or fight response along with increasing the body’s blood sugar, blood flow to muscles and the brain and lungs, increasing the rate of breathing, and pouring out adrenaline.
- The cortex produces cortisol (an anti-inflammatory hormone) and regulates immune, metabolic, and mineral balancing functions.
However, sometimes the body’s response to certain stresses becomes more harmful than helpful. In this condition, the body may suffer from diseases. This is also known as a maladaptive response. This takes us to the next condition known as maladaptive stress syndrome (MSS). This syndrome has four stages, which are as follows:
- MSS0: This is a healthy stage in which the body is attentive when it has to be when it deals with stress by releasing adrenalin.
- MSS1 (Alarm Stage): This is the first stage of stress and is also known as the flight or fight reaction. When the body is under stress, there is a burst of adrenalin and cortisol released. Strength and energy of the body are focused on dealing with the stress. In this stage, the stress is dealt with quickly and the body can return back to normal in a healthy manner.
- MSS2 (Resistance Stage): An individual reaches this stage when the stress is not dealt with properly. Adrenalin release subsides but cortisol is continuously released. However, the body is unable to defend itself at this stage. In this stage, the individual is prone to symptoms such as fatigue, concentration lapses, and irritability. The adrenals begin to wear out and other symptoms include depression, anxiety, lack of appetite, and even possibly diabetes.
- MSS3 (Exhaustion Stage): At this stage, the individual has lost all energy to fight the stress and the body “crashes.” This stage is often described as adrenal burnout or adrenal exhaustion. Blood sugar levels decrease, cortisol production drops, stress tolerance drops, illness sets in, and the body collapses.
Now that you have a brief understanding of what adrenal fatigue can do to your body, let’s examine the ways to heal this condition.
Healing Adrenal Fatigue
Diet has a lot to do with the cause and the recovery from adrenal fatigue. Therefore, what goes into your mouth plays a role on how healthy your body stays. Not only is what you eat important for healing adrenal fatigue, even when you have your meals is equally important. So, the key to healing adrenal fatigue is like any other diet you will consider following for a healthy lifestyle.
Let’s examine what you must include in your diet if you suffer from adrenal fatigue.
Nutrients That Can Help Heal Adrenal Fatigue
As mentioned earlier, a diet to heal adrenal fatigue is similar to any other diet that promises a healthy living. The foods to include in your diet consist of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, proteins, and others.
The most important thing to remember when you put yourself on a diet is that the foods you eat should not spike your blood sugar levels and should provide enough energy for the body to function. Following are the most important nutrients required by your body when you suffer from adrenal fatigue.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body and are required by every living cell. Therefore, proteins like chicken, beef, turkey, etc. should be included in your diet for maintaining the body’s energy levels.
Protein intake varies with respect to the stage you are in (MSS1, MSS2, MSS3). That is, if you are in MSS1, you will require a minimum amount of proteins which increases as your stage progresses.
Your body requires sources that release carbs slowly in the body. Whole grain carbohydrates like whole wheat, oats, rye, brown rice etc. are recommended for those suffering from adrenal fatigue. These foods release energy slowly into the bloodstream, thereby reducing the release of insulin that may cause a drastic drop in blood sugars.
Vegetables are also good sources of carbohydrates; however, stick to starchy vegetables like parsnip, beet, red and purple potato, butternut squash, yams, sweet potatoes, zucchini, etc.
Good fats are important for the body and they are different from the fat that forms in your body. These sources of good fats can help stabilize your blood sugars provided you ingest them with carbohydrates as well.
Sources of good fats include olive oil, butter, coconut oil, ghee, avocado, raw nuts and seeds, fish oil, cod liver oil, sesame oil etc.
If you are wondering how to go about your diet on a daily basis, here’s a meal plan that will help heal your adrenal glands.
Meal Plan For MSS0–MSS1
Timing and the quality of foods you eat are important for healing adrenal fatigue. Here is a simple meal plan that you can follow if you fall under the category MSS0–MSS1.1
- Breakfast should be the most important and biggest meal of the day. Have it around 10–11 a.m. Make sure you include quality foods and a mix of all the proteins you require like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc.
- For lunch, you can have a fruit of your choice. If you are still hungry, you can have a cup of herbal tea.
- Have your second largest meal around 3 p.m. Make sure the meal is balanced with all the necessary nutrients.
- Have a light dinner between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Make this meal as light as possible. Some soups or bone broth are ideal for a dinner meal.
- If you have sleep disturbances at night, you may have a small portion of protein by 8 p.m.
- Make sure you drink a minimum of eight glasses of water every day to keep yourself hydrated.
Meal Plan For MSS2–MSS3
This meal plan is high in proteins. You may require at least 1.2–1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of weight every day. If you belong to MSS2 or MSS3, there will be a lot of blood glucose and insulin issues. Therefore, having meals every two to three hours is good for healing adrenal fatigue.2
- Have a healthy, heavy breakfast within an hour of waking up in the morning. This will help you refresh your blood glucose levels that may have depleted overnight. Make sure your breakfast has lots of protein and complex carbohydrates, which can help regulate blood sugar levels.
- Eat a snack about two hours after your breakfast. Your snacks should be protein-rich or vegetable-based.
- Make sure you have a healthy, balanced lunch around 12 p.m.
- Have a snack by 2 p.m. because your cortisol levels naturally dip around 4 p.m. To balance this cortisol dip, many choose a cup of coffee. However, it is not healthy for your adrenal glands.
- Have a healthy, light dinner around 6 p.m.
- Have a light snack an hour before bed to regulate the blood sugar levels overnight.
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water.
If you’ve read the meal plan for MSS2–MSS3, you will notice that snacks are quite important to maintain a healthy diet. This is because nutritious snacks can regulate blood sugars and can, in turn, heal your adrenal glands. Here are some tips on what kind of snacks you can include in your meal plan.
Tips For Nutritious Snacks
- The first and foremost thing to remember is that processed foods or convenience foods should not be considered as snacks. These include cookies, bagels, chips, candy etc. Always stick to snacks that you can prepare at home.
- Vegetable sticks are a good snack. You can try these with carrots, celery, cucumbers, radishes, etc. You can also have them with a protein of your choice.
- Fruits like apples, berries, and pears are healthy. However, you should also know that fruits are high in natural sugars and they may spike your blood sugars. You can also have fruits with yogurt or cheese.
- Raw nuts and seeds are healthy snacks, too. However, don’t go overboard with them. A handful of nuts or 1⁄3 of a cup of seeds are the recommended quantity. Choose nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, etc.
So, you really can recover from adrenal fatigue with a healthy diet. Also, cut down on your caffeine intake and processed foods that can mess with your health. In addition, you also need to change the way you respond to stress. Avoid internalizing it and letting it affect your body. Speak to someone who can help if you aren’t able to manage stress yourself.
|↑1||Luther, Maggie. The Everything Guide To Adrenal Fatigue: Revive Energy, Boost Immunity, and Improve Concentration for a Happy, Stress-free Life. Everything; 1 edition, 2016.|
|↑2||Luther, Maggie. The Everything Guide To Adrenal Fatigue: Revive Energy, Boost Immunity, and Improve Concentration for a Happy, Stress-free Life. Everything; 1 edition, 2016.|