9 Tips to Improve Adrenal Fatigue Naturally
By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Adrenal fatigue is a common health issue for many, and is something that I often get asked about. So I want to focus on this today to help answer all of your outlying questions about this condition.
What Causes Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is simply caused by an imbalance in our lives (most of us are somewhat imbalanced), where we may be trying to juggle too much or we are putting our bodies under too much stress that we can’t cope with. It’s caused by our adrenal glands and system being unable to cope with the stress and high-demands of our lives. “Stress” as I just referred to it before though may not just be emotional stress, it can include other stressors on the body including of course emotional stress, diet that may not provide our bodies adequate nutrients, insufficient sleep, chemical toxins (think household and self-care products), chronic illness (asthma, diabetes and other diseases that put a constant strain and stress on our bodies).
Any of the aforementioned stressors can leave us feeling totally wiped and exhausted and can really do a number on our adrenal system, so we need to do what we can to repair the source of damage to the best of our abilities so that we can give our bodies a bit of a break. Things like chronic disease and other long-term and consistent stressors may cause longer term stress and therefore should be treated with someone in person (and all of these causes may need a more intensive in-person treatment strategy). In addition to potentially seeking out other treatment methods, I have some tips that are key to help take added stress off of the adrenal system, and give our bodies a break.
Wellness and Nutrition Tips for Adrenal Fatigue
- Skip added sugars: Sugar is something many of us battle with removing from our diets. It’s processed and tasty, but provides very little nutrition and can cause a whole lot of problems long-term like inflammation (a contributor to adrenal fatigue) and can also rev our systems up and require lots of time-consuming processing. Try swapping added sugars for sweetness added from fruits and other natural sources. A note for any juicers out there: Try to pick recipes that are 80% vegetable and 20% fruit to avoid getting too much sugar from the juices. This is very important when considering adrenal fatigue.
- Cut out processed foods: They’re loaded with very little nutrition to provide nourishment. Try making small changes (like switching from instant oatmeal to make-it-yourself old fashioned oats, or switch from processed salad dressing to an easy make-it-yourself version). See our recipes here: http://www.rebootwithjoe.com/recipes/
- Cut the caffeine: Caffeine is something that can often rev our systems up and can be really taxing on the adrenal-system especially in higher quantities.
- Eat more frequently: Frequent eating is something that can help to keep blood sugar in check (and also helps to balance energy and promote good energy). Aim to eat every 3-4 hours, so that means 3 meals and at least 1-2 snacks daily.
- Bump up the veggies: This is a must for anyone with adrenal fatigue – or for someone who feels like they may be getting it. Add in extra servings of vegetables (non-starchy veggies) in places like smoothies, juices, snacks and sides.
- Include more of these nutrients:
- Tyrosine: Helps to support production of key neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine and can help take stress off of the (already) taxed adrenal system. Include foods like banana, avocado, legumes, nuts and seeds, lean protein (chicken, fish).
- Vitamin B5: Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is a key nutrient for the function of the adrenal glands. Sources of B5 include shiitake mushrooms, avocadoes, sweet potato, sunflower seeds eggs, salmon and trout.
- Vitamin C: Helps to promote production of cortisol (a key hormone produced by the adrenal glands) and therefore consuming it through food can help to take some stress off of the adrenal glands. Sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, peaches, broccoli, and mangoes.
- Get more sleep: Inadequate sleep is one of the biggest reasons for adrenal fatigue and therefore getting more sleep is crucial. If you’re someone who has trouble sleeping, here are a few tips that may be helpful. Aim for more than you’re currently getting, with a goal in mind of 7-9 hours nightly.
- Get rid of household toxins: Household toxins can tax our systems because after all, our systems do absorb a good amount of what touches the skin. Chemicals in things like toothpastes, shampoos and household cleaners can tax our systems. Try to look for natural alternatives to items that are particularly chemically laden, and for more natural household cleaners here are natural alternatives to classic cleaners.
- Start a mindfulness practice like yoga or meditation: This can help to both quiet the mind and quiet the body, which can relieve stress and can help to ease strain on the adrenals.