I have been loving writing this series about healing adrenal fatigue naturally, and judging by the response in my inbox you guys are too. It’s reassuring to know that a lot of us are climbing this mountain and I am stoked to be your learning-on-the-job Sherpa!
So just remember you are not alone. Not by a long shot.
So far in this series we have learnt the basics of adrenal fatigue (over here), I also told my story (here) and then we summed up exactly what lifestyle changes (here) we can make to naturally affect change within our stressed out little bodies!
But there is a major piece of the puzzle missing. Diet. One of my lecturers at IIN, Dr Annemarie Colbin, remarked at how bizarre it was that within the medical world, nutrition is barely acknowledged. She laughed as she said (in a rather spunky Dutch accent) “where did we get this concept that food doesn’t affect our health. You just put it in this black hole and then it disappears into your stomach and poof – it’s gone”. No.
I think we all know by now that food is a little more than calories in, calories out. Food is medicine. And this is especially the case in terms of hormonal syndromes like adrenal fatigue or oestrogen dominance (more on that gem later).
Food has been integral in my healing and I wholeheartedly believe that in this world of over-prescription, food is the key to most healing. But that’s a whole other chestnut for a whole other blog post.
Back to the point, here is how I have been healing adrenal fatigue through diet…
With every snack and every meal you should be having a good amount of protein. Meals should consist of healthy organic proteins and fibrous vegetables. Snacks consist of apple and almond butter, healthy trail mixes, or an egg in a little olive oil then rolled in spices.
… Especially at breakfast!
You need to consume a high protein breakfast before 10am. I have to admit I got onto the green smoothie train (and it is a good train indeed) but I had to add some sort of protein (chia seeds alone are not enough). Since then I have added brown rice protein to my smoothies and definitely stay fuller and sharper, longer.
This also made me reconnect with sugar albeit low amounts and only good sources of it. I was shying away from fruit for a long time but nowadays I have integrated berries (which are nutrient dense superstars) into my breakfast smoothies again.
Avoid stimulants – sugar, caffeine, coffee
Basically you want to keep your body on a nice even keel. You are already trying to balance out a rollercoaster of blood sugar ups and downs so you need to not throw any spanners in the works here. This sadly means for the moment cutting out stimulants – sugar (low sugar fruits are okay), caffeine and coffee. These foods (processed sugar especially) are highly inflammatory.
If you are cacao fiend you are going to need to curb this somewhat. I still have a scoop in the morning in my smoothies as it has high levels of magnesium which are great for adrenal fatigue but don’t be having it at every meal. Moderation, people!
Avoid processed foods – focus on clean beautiful wholefoods
This is just a good rule of thumb anyway. Anything that comes out of box, bag or tin is relinquished to the no-go zone while you are healing. They stress your adrenals too much and that is the opposite of what they need right now.
Concentrate on delicious plates of whole foods with lots of leaves and lots of colour. I like to see how many colours I can fit on the plate. Clean proteins, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds are where its at.
Avoid foods that inflame – alcohol, gluten and dairy
‘fraid so. If you want you can read all about the effect of chronic inflammation on the body here but if not the long story short is: everything to do with healing starts in the gut. The gut is our second brain and we need to keep the dude happy. Alcohol, gluten and dairy do not make the gut happy. If you have a spare hour you could watch two episodes of Catalyst dedicated solely to the gut. See them here – well worth a watch. It even includes a Fecal Transplant. Yep. It really is what you think.
Veer towards low starch
Lowering the amount of starch in your diet is like upgrading your train ticket; the standard fare is still going to get you there in the end, but the express ticket is quicker.
Starchy foods (potatoes, flours, root vegetables) are intrinsically lower nutrient than their fibrous friends (think leafy greens, broccoli or cauliflower). But at the heart of the matter, starches (carbohydrates) affect your blood sugar, causing your blood glucose to spike. Remember that blood sugar rollercoaster?
If you can start to switch to better low-starch alternatives your body will love you. Instead of rice I grate cauliflower. Instead of pasta I ribbon zucchini. Instead of mash potato I mash cauliflower or swede (rutabagas). There are options.
I will also be sharing a whole heap of recipes in the coming months to make it easier for you as well as creating meal plans for those struggling with hormonal issues. Jump on my newsletter here to make sure you don’t miss out.
Go organic when and where you can
Preferably a 100% organic diet is going to have faster, better affects. Start making as many switches as you can. You make want to have a look at the Dirty Dozen (here) or my tips on going organic on a budget (here).
Up the probiotics!
Throw as many probiotics down your gob as possible! Not only did I take a probiotic supplement (I sell them wholesale, enquire here) after dinner I also have been adding raw kim chi and sauerkraut to every meal I possibly can. What I couldn’t add it too I would drink with a side of water kefir. I am also about to venture into the world of Beet Kvass which is a super simple form of fermenting beetroots (recipe here).
- B-Vitamins are critical for the chemical processes within the glands. I use this brand of activated B-complex and it works a treat. (Though it may make your wee yellow – you have been warned).
- Digestive Enzymes – I have also been taking digestive enzymes before each meal to help prime my gut for better absorption of nutrients. (enquire about my wholesale prices here).
- My naturopath also prescribed me adaptogenic herbs which help my body adapt and cope with stress. It’s full of stuff like Rhodiola and other herbal extracts and it tasted like arse but it definitely helped.
Remember – this isn’t forever
While there are some awesome tips in here that you could definitely benefit from adopting forever you need to understand there is coffee, cake and chocolate in your future. It’s that whole short-term pain for long-term gain thing.
And if you do eat any of these things during the period – don’t worry. Read this article about getting back on track and move on. It’s not the end of the world, you are doing awesome.
Healing adrenal fatigue through diet or lifestyle is a long windy road. Consider it time for self-discovery, laugh at it, enjoy it. As I said up top there, you are not alone.