Adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addison’s Disease, is an endocrine disorder in which the body fails to produce a sufficient amount of steroid hormones, leading to a number of unpleasant symptoms, including weight loss and muscle weakness.
Adrenal fatigue, on the other hand, is not a medically accepted disorder and is simply used to refer to a number of nonspecific symptoms, many of which are similar to those seen in Addison’s Disease.
Just because it’s not a medically accepted disease doesn’t mean that the symptoms are all psychosomatic or that the issues are somehow faked.
The symptoms and the suffering is very real and some experts believe that it may be a mild form of Addison’s Disease that has been triggered by chronic stress. Whatever the cause, it’s important to tackle the symptoms as best you can and one of the ways to do this is to eat a carefully constructed diet. It won’t rid you of the disorder, but it may help to reduce some of the symptoms and make life more bearable.
Don’t worry, not all sugar is bad. You don’t have to give up fruit and you don’t have to miss out on the occasional spoonful of sugar with a cup of tea or coffee. You should, however, avoid excessive consumption and limit yourself to natural sugars where possible.
Excessive sugar consumption can change the way that the body produces and releases hormones and may lead to several of the more debilitating symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue. If you consume sugar all-day every day then you’re also at risk of regular sugar crashes, which will make you more tired, more stressed and more prone to agitation.
Fruit is fine in moderation, but table sugar and high fructose processed sugars (HFCS, agave syrup) are not.
Just like sugar, caffeine can cause you to crash if you binge on it throughout the day, sometimes without you even realizing it. It can also affect your sleeping patterns, which in turn will make you more prone to stress. If you have adrenal fatigue and regularly suffer from feelings of tiredness and brain fog then you may look to caffeine to help you, but it could be doing more harm than good.
Soy can block the absorption of iodine, which is very useful at preventing a number of thyroid and hormone issues. It may also interfere with the way our bodies produce and process estrogen, a hormone that seems to be in short supply in people suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Many experts on the adrenal fatigue diet recommend abstaining from this foodstuff. Of course, that is easier said than done as soy seems to be everywhere, but to begin with you just need to focus on the big picture and don’t sweat the small stuff.
If you are presenting with the symptoms of adrenal fatigue then it may be the result of an allergy or an intolerance to dairy or gluten. At the very least gluten and lactose may be exacerbating the symptoms, so it’s worth abstaining for a short while to see if the symptoms improve. These days it’s very easy to go without gluten and dairy because there is so much choice on restaurant menus and in grocery stores. Give it a go and see if it works.
Whole fruits and vegetables will provide your body with a host of essential nutrients, giving it exactly what it needs to function as it should. Adrenal fatigue seems to present more in people who have dietary issues or a history of eating processed foods and while this might not be a direct cause, it’s certainly worth introducing more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet to see if those symptoms disappear.
Don’t be tempted into blitzing your daily fruits and vegetables into a smoothie. The whole versions will serve you better, providing you with filling fiber and healthy enzymes and giving your body exactly what it wants and expects, instead of shocking it with a sudden injection of glucose.
Many experts recommend starchy vegetables in particular, which basically refers to anything that grows underground, such as sweet potatoes, carrots and squash. Broccoli is also a great food to eat on the adrenal fatigue diet. It’s a superfood, and one that has been found to have anti-cancer properties, so there’s no reason not to include it.
Trans fats and most saturated fats should be avoided, but don't leave out fats altogether. The fats found in olive oil, chia seeds, oily fish and even coconut oil have been shown to provide the body with a number of healthy nutrients, assisting with everything from cognitive function to a healthy digestive system and more.
This is just the ticket if you have adrenal fatigue and a lack of fats like these could be one of the reasons those symptoms were presenting in the first place.
Of course, fat is fat and while you need some, you should avoid consuming too much. Your diet should be balanced, with a mixture of carbohydrates, fats, fiber and protein—don’t overdo it with the olive oil.
Tea is a great hydrator and it’s packed full of healthy antioxidants which may be able to reduce those adrenal fatigue symptoms. At the very least it will keep you hydrated, keep those free radicals at bay and ensure you have a natural lift to get you though the day.
Of course, too much caffeine is not a good thing and most tea contains caffeine, so instead of black tea, opt for green tea or matcha tea. An occasional cup of black tea is fine if you can’t resist temptation, but you can also try swapping it for rooibos tea, which has a very similar flavor and nutrient profile, but is naturally caffeine free.
If you can’t drink tea without a little sweetness and don’t want to overdo it on the sugar, try adding a little honey instead. It works so much better than table sugar and it’s also considerably healthier for you.
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