5 Keys to Keeping Your Adrenal Glands Healthy: #3 – Diet

by lydia on November 18, 2014

Healthy adrenal glands are the golden ticket to optimal health, unfortunately most people alive today do not have fully functioning adrenals. If you’ve been around here long enough, you are well aware of this issue, however in case you are not, let me share a bit more about what adrenal fatigue is and how to approach your diet in light of it.

5Keys To Adrenal Health


Adrenal Fatigue

Briefly, let’s review what adrenal fatigue is.

First of all your adrenals are two tiny glands that sit atop your kidneys, no larger than a walnut.The hormones secreted by your adrenals influence all of the major physiological processes in your body. They closely affect the utilization of carbohydrates and fats, the conversion of fats and proteins into energy, the distribution of stored fat (especially around your waist and at the sides of your face), normal blood sugar regulation, and proper cardiovascular and gastrointestinal function. The protective activity of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant hormones secreted by the adrenals helps to minimize negative and allergic reactions to alcohol, drugs, foods and environmental allergens.

Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a “syndrome”.

It is a deficiency in the functioning of the adrenal glands, our stress glands. It can be very hard to identify and likely your doctor won’t diagnose it. People with adrenal fatigue live with a general sense of not feeling fully well and a level of depression, lack of joy.

Abnormal blood sugar levels, typically in the form of hypoglycemia are frequently seen in adrenal fatigue cases. This is becoming more common anymore due to the over consumption of refined carbs, sugars and even stimulants such as coffee and soda in our nation.

What happens is the  normally functioning adrenal glands overproduce due to stress, either physical from exertion or poor diet, or emotional and psychological due to life circumstances such as unhealthy relationships or environments. When too much output lasts too long the adrenals get depleted and then can no longer function properly causing a decrease in the adrenal hormones, particularly cortisol. The range of adrenal fatigue can be low to very severe. On the severe end it can be life threatening.

However, it’s also due to unrelenting stress over time and an imbalanced body chemistry because of it. Stress depletes minerals.

If you know by now, that you have some level of adrenal fatigue, or you’d like to prevent getting it altogether, there are plenty of things you can do to keep those little glands healthy. The most important priority, in my opinion, is to get adequate sleep. How many of us in this day and age, do not get adequate sleep? I personally, don’t know too many people who do. Yet, in order to experience optimal health across the board, sleep is essential. If you want to experience full recovery of your adrenals sleep should be the first area you work on. And plenty of sleep at that, in fact more sleep than you think you need (9-10 hours a day preferably, especially if you are in the exhaustion stage).  The challenge with getting adequate sleep is that insomnia is often a symptom those with tired adrenal glands regularly deal with. So, how do you combat adrenal fatigue?

Nutritional Therapy

It is my job as a Nutritional Therapist to work with the body holistically, to support the overall systems and thereby reduce symptoms through diet, lifestyle and the right supplements for the individual. Adrenal fatigue is something I see in just about every client I work with, including myself.  One of the key foundations in supporting those with adrenal fatigue, after working on improving sleep, is through a whole food, properly prepared nutrient dense diet.

Diet impacts so many aspects of our health and one of those aspects is blood sugar regulation. Something I have written quite a bit about in the past. Please read more here on ‘How Does Your Blood Sugar Work‘, so you understand this piece of your health just a bit more. Most people today do not have well managed blood sugar.

The reason I bring this up is two fold – in order to manage blood sugar it’s important to know both, what to eat and when to eat.

Diet: What To Eat

We must obtain critical nutrients from our food and even more so when adrenal fatigue is present. Therefore, it is imperative to eat REAL foods only, nothing processed/refined. If you are eating the typical American diet (aka: S.A.D.), this will not support your body and further tax the adrenal glands and cause your health to deteriorate.

Please read my serious on ‘How To Ditch Processed Foods‘, all the posts in the series are linked there (so far, there are 6 in all).

In the meantime, it would be best to know for sure how bad your adrenal fatigue is and how your body is metabolizing foods – whether you are in a state of slow, fast or mixed oxidation. This will help to determine what foods your body handles best for the time being. There is no way to determine what ‘dietary template’ would work for everyone.

The best way to find this information out is through hair analysis testing. You simply can’t guess. I have a client who does metabolic typing for a living and assumed she was a fast oxidizer, but her hair test showed she was a very slow oxidizer. Meaning, she was eating the wrong template for her current biochemistry and likely stalling her healing and slowing her body down even more. And,  who has time to waste feeling poorly?

Typically, folks with more serious adrenal fatigue tend to be slow oxidizers. What this means is that their body metabolizes food slowly. This indicates that lighter, easier to digest foods are a better choice. Lean proteins, good fats but used sparingly, and plenty of low glycemic carbohydrates, paired with enough moderate to starchy carbohydrates as well. Low protein or higher fat diets tend to slow the metabolic rate, so in those who are already slowed way down this is not a good option.

Of course that is a very simplified explanation. If you want to read more, I suggest checking out the book; ‘The Metabolic Typing Diet’ (of course only once you know what your current metabolic rate is can you utilize this information – Amazon affiliate link).

Nutritional Imbalances leading to adrenal insufficiency are all too common in our modern day. They can begin from conception or early childhood from an inadequate diet. (I grew up on processed foods -didn’t you?) Also, the wrong diet one that is inappropriate for one’s oxidation type is a big issue. Poor food quality – even if it’s real food it could be lacking in vital minerals and nutrients. Then there is the issue of digestive problems making it difficult to even access the nutrition available in the food to begin with. Vicious cycle…..everyone today could certainly stand to get more insights into their own biochemistry and more focused support.


Diet: When To Eat

When and how often to eat is just as key as what to eat.

Please do your best to eat in a relaxed state. No eating on the go -or rushed eating -this puts digestion on the backburner. Chew each bite 25-30 times to help break down your food better, releasing salivary enzymes and because your stomach doesn’t have teeth.
Eat within an 8-10 hour window each day (those with AF need to eat a lot more frequently) – 1 hour upon waking is best. 8am, 11 am, 2 pm and 5-6 pm for dinner. A small snack before bed like a handful of nuts would be ok if you feel you need it and are someone with blood sugar issues – such as insulin resistance, pre- or diabetes or hypoglycemic. And just FYI, I haven’t had a single client who doesn’t have some level of blood sugar imbalance even if they don’t notice any symptoms.
There is no need to count calories. In fact, the deeper your adrenal fatigue the more you need to make sure you eat enough food each day and avoid limiting caloric intake. Do not skip any meals – namely breakfast. If the body senses it is starving due to low caloric intake that will further tax the adrenal glands. Not something you want to do trust me!

Putting It All Together

In order to begin to correct issues with adrenal insufficiency you will need to first learn your unique biochemistry through a hair analysis test. Then implement a healthy real food diet appropriate for your current oxidation rate and your current digestive ability. Next up would be to implement supplements specific to your body’s needs to reduce stress and enhance your adrenal glands activity. As well as to enhance your overall metabolism, and help you to eliminate toxic metals and enhance your bodies ability to absorb and digest your food.You will need to focus on lifestyle stressors and modify to reduce things that are further hampering your health. Also, you may want to learn further techniques on how to cope and deal with stress so you don’t choose harmful methods in place of healing methods. Things like meditation, relaxation techniques, essential oils, flower essences, counseling/therapy or biofeedback are all good choices.In mild cases you can see great improvements in a short amount of time but in more longstanding instances complete reversal of adrenal fatigue can require several years. It will require dedication, patience and a lot of support for you to see optimal results.

Hair analysis is a key way to determine the health of your adrenal glands.

As a nutritional therapist, I feel this test alone is the key place to start with each and every one of my clients. Once we know how well your adrenals are functioning we will have a much better idea of what you are up against and just how long it will take your body to really heal and recover.

If you’ve struggled with ongoing fatigue, lack of energy, recurrent health symptoms, hormone issues or more, this step is for you. Click on the banner below if you’d like to get started today!




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{ 1 comment }

gregory shatney November 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

My hair analysis showed me why I have been feeling so poorly of late. I’ve been eating poorly!

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