The adrenal fatigue diet is a food-based approach to improving stress on the adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands are located above your kidneys. They produce hormones that help your body to burn fat and protein, regulate sugar and blood pressure, and respond to stress.
Although adrenal fatigue is not a true medical diagnosis and is not endorsed by most healthcare professionals, it’s purported to occur when your adrenal glands can’t function properly. The adrenal fatigue diet is believed to promote the proper functionality of the adrenal glands.
This adrenal fatigue diet provides guidelines similar to other balanced diets, which generally include:
The purported goal is to increase your energy levels naturally so you don’t burn stored nutrients.
Keep in mind that the adrenal fatigue diet has not been evaluated for its ability to decrease stress on the adrenal glands. But it has been proven that eating a more balanced diet and adopting certain lifestyle changes can make you feel better physically and mentally.
That being said, if you believe you may have adrenal fatigue, it’s best to talk with your doctor to determine whether other health problems could also be contributing to your symptoms.
When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands release cortisol. Some theorize that when you experience high levels of chronic stress, your adrenal glands may not be able to produce enough cortisol to keep up.
This is purported to cause a reduction in adrenal gland function, which may result in adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue should not be confused with adrenal insufficiency, which is a verified medical condition that occurs when your adrenal glands are unable to produce enough hormones.
Some reported complaints of people who’ve been told that they have adrenal fatigue include:
- difficulty waking up or falling asleep
- increased cravings for salt or sugar
- low energy levels
- dependence on stimulants, like caffeine
Keep in mind that these symptoms could be caused by stress or many other health conditions.
It’s also thought that adrenal fatigue may trigger adrenal insufficiency. This is characterized by decreased aldosterone and cortisol production due to diminished gland function, and typically caused by autoimmune destruction of the adrenal cortex.
Symptoms of adrenal insufficiency include:
In more severe cases of adrenal insufficiency, you may experience:
If you decide to try a diet for adrenal fatigue, it’s generally recommended to limit foods and drinks high in refined and processed sugar and unhealthy fats.
Some foods to limit include:
It’s also recommended to time your meals properly to help manage your blood sugar levels.
It may help to eat breakfast, and eat regularly throughout the day. Skipping breakfast and lunch forces your body to burn stored nutrients and may reduce your energy levels. If you eat regular, balanced meals and snacks, you can maintain your energy levels all day.
Keep in mind that it’s also very important to talk with your doctor before making any changes to your diet to ensure your nutritional needs are met.
You may also want to consider increasing your intake of vegetables to get the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals.
Some foods to eat on the adrenal fatigue diet include:
- protein sources, like lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and legumes
- leafy greens and colorful vegetables
- whole grains
- relatively low-sugar fruits
- sea salt in moderation
- healthy fats like olive oil and avocado
The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides detailed guidance on which foods should be included in a well-rounded meal plan to support health.
A well balanced diet recommended to address adrenal fatigue may be helpful in increasing energy levels and regulating blood pressure because it promotes healthier eating habits.
This diet also encourages a variety of nutrient-dense foods and doesn’t require any major dietary restrictions that could harm your health.
For best results, you should combine the diet with other lifestyle changes, like establishing a healthy sleep schedule, managing your stress levels, and getting plenty of physical activity.
Additionally, you should always talk with your doctor before changing your eating habits.
If you begin to experience any adverse symptoms or if the diet makes your condition worse, visit your doctor immediately.