It is important to carefully manage your diet to prevent symptoms Addison’s disease from worsening.

Addison’s disease, also known as adrenal insufficiency, is a condition in which your adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormone cortisol and, sometimes, the hormone aldosterone.

These hormones are important for various bodily functions, including managing stress, regulating blood pressure, and maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance.

People with Addison’s disease should maintain a balanced diet to ensure they have enough nutrients and energy, especially during times of stress or illness, when their hormone levels need extra support.

In addition, you may need to monitor your intake of salt (also called sodium) from your diet. This is because some individuals with Addison’s disease may have issues with sodium balance.

Diet plays an important role in managing Addison’s disease. This is primarily because certain foods can affect how some medications work. They can also affect your body’s electrolyte balance, particularly with respect to sodium.

Doctors do not prescribe a single specific diet for all individuals with Addison’s disease.

Instead, dietary recommendations aim to manage electrolyte imbalances and adapt to increased cortisol and aldosterone needs during times of illness or stress.

Here are some specific dietary guidelines:

  • Balanced diet: Try to consume a balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods from different food groups, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. This helps ensure that you receive essential nutrients.
  • Salt intake: Individuals with Addison’s disease who are low in aldosterone (salt-balancing hormone) can benefit from a high sodium diet.
  • Hydration: Stay well hydrated by drinking enough fluids, especially during warm weather or when experiencing illness or stress. Dehydration can be a concern for people with Addison’s disease.
  • Glucose-rich food: People with Addison’s may experience symptoms similar to those of low blood sugar, such as fatigue and difficulty concentrating. A small 2010 study found that consuming glucose-rich foods improved these symptoms.

For some individuals with Addison’s disease — especially if you have the most severe form of the condition, which causes you to lose salt — consuming a diet that’s somewhat higher in sodium may be necessary.

This is because Addison’s disease affects the adrenal glands, which produce hormones like aldosterone. Aldosterone helps regulate the balance of sodium and potassium in your body.

When your body does not make enough aldosterone, your body may lose sodium. This can potentially lead to low blood pressure and other concerns.

It helps to be mindful of foods and dietary habits that could worsen your condition if you live with Addison’s disease. And if you’re taking certain medications, a healthcare professional may give you specific dietary guidelines to follow.

Here are some considerations:

  • High caffeine foods and beverages: High caffeine intake can worsen the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency, such as nervousness and rapid heartbeat.
  • Processed foods: While some individuals with Addison’s disease may need to increase their sodium intake, doctors typically advise that you obtain that sodium from sources like table salt or salt-containing foods (like pickles), rather than processed foods. Processed and high sodium convenience foods may not provide the best quality of salt and may contain unwanted additives.
  • Grapefruit and grapefruit juice: Grapefruit can interact with some medications used to treat Addison’s disease, such as glucocorticoids, by potentially increasing their strength.
  • High fiber foods: Excessive fiber intake — particularly from raw, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts and from whole grains — can interfere with the absorption of some medications. This includes hydrocortisone and other glucocorticoids. While fiber is generally a healthy part of your diet, it’s important to consume it in a balanced way and not around the time you’re taking certain medications.
  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can affect how your body absorbs and uses medications. While moderate alcohol consumption is generally safe, consider consulting with a healthcare professional about your specific situation, if you drink.

Diet plays an important role in managing Addison’s disease. Key considerations include eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, and maintaining adequate sodium intake.

However, dietary recommendations may vary from person to person, so it’s essential to work closely with a healthcare professional to develop a personalized dietary plan that suits your individual needs.