Handling Fatigue; Helping your Adrenal Glands
Fatigue and What to Eat
is one of the most common health complaints.
this sound familiar? You find that they wake up tired,
unable to think straight or get going without
caffeine, you crave and eat high-carb foods and high
carb snacks. Maybe you reach for energy drinks. You
want to take a nap during the afternoon and then wind
up staying up late because you’re too “awake” to
result, of course, is exhaustion.
you have daily stress from job or family and you add
this type of stress, poor food, not sleeping, on a
chronic basis, the tiny adrenal glands that moderate
your stress response and balance the many other
hormones in the body will suffer.
Adrenal fatigue is what develops and your
search for energy begins.
As the adrenal glands become exhausted, you can end up
with excess abdominal weight, decreased immunity, lack
of coordination, irritability, poor sleep.
Understanding this, you can prevent and reverse
What causes the exhaustion?
The adrenals are the key. As
the balancer of more than 50 hormones in the body, the
adrenal glands have a big impact on your health.
The adrenals are responsible for activating
your “fight or flight” response.
This response will shift energy away from
digestion and towards action mode – your heart and
skeletal muscles - by pumping adrenaline and cortisol
into your bloodstream.
is the cortisol that monitors your body’s other
systems: protecting the body from stress by
regulating blood pressure, normalizing blood sugar
levels, helping to regulate the immune and
inflammatory responses, and influencing mood, memory,
and clarity of thought.
this helps explain why, when your adrenal reserves are
depleted, you might feel a little crazy, and your
sleeping and eating habits suffer.
The constant demand for stress hormones means
the adrenals become depleted and ultimately exhausted.
The adrenals also make numerous other hormones, including androgens and
their precursors – testosterone and DHEA, and also
estrogen and progesterone – which is why you adrenal
glands come into play as women approach menopause.
The body relies heavily upon the regulation of
hormones at this time.
When the ovaries stop producing estrogen, the
adrenals are supposed to pick up the slack.
But what if they are already exhausted.
How do I help my adrenals?
of the best ways to start it to pay attention to the
choices you make about food.
Pay attention to what you eat, but when and how
you eat. Small
changes can really support better adrenal gland
function and give you day long energy and a good
Timing your meals and snacks:
What food choices can make or break your adrenals?
reaching for food that provides quick energy – carbs
(and sugar is a carb) Carbohydrates are actually
long chains of sugar hooked together. Carbs
break down to sugar in the body). At the end of the day as the
body is entering a period of recovery, overeating and
poor food choices can be easy to do.
nutrition, well-timed meals and snacks, and sometimes
a gluten-free diet can significantly relieve the
strain on your adrenal glands.
allow yourself to get too hungry. Low blood sugar by
itself puts stress on your body and can tax your
adrenals. Your body is in constant need of energy —
even as you sleep. And the primary adrenal hormone
cortisol serves as a moderator in making sure your
blood sugar between meals, especially during the
night, stays adequate. It does this by signaling to
the liver to release its stored sugar, glycogen,
when there isn’t food in the body. Long periods
without food make the adrenals work harder as they
must release more cortisol to keep your body
eating three nutritious meals and two to three snacks
that are well timed throughout the day is one way to
balance your blood sugar and lessen the adrenal
eat can also make a difference in supporting and
restoring your adrenals. Cortisol has a natural cycle.
Normally, it begins to rise around 6:00 AM and reaches
its highest peak around 8:00 AM. Throughout the day
cortisol gradually declines — with small upward
bumps at meal times — in preparation for nighttime
ideal to work with this natural cycle to keep the
tapering-off of levels as smooth as possible as the
day progresses and to avoid dramatic ups and downs.
To do this, it helps to get the majority of your food
in earlier in the day, and to eat an early dinner (by
5:00 or 6:00 PM). If it is difficult to eat early, at least try to make your
evening meal the lightest one of the day. This will
prevent a surge of cortisol from ramping up your
night-time metabolic rate and disrupting your ability
to fall or stay asleep.
The “night-eating” habit is due to the
appetite-stimulating effects of residual cortisol, and
unfortunately, it only further disturbs our hormones.
in mind that cortisol will also rise a bit with
exercise. Lighter activities, such as a walk after
dinner or a bit of gentle stretching before, will not
alter this natural tapering-off process. But to work
in concert with your body’s natural cortisol cycle,
more intense exercise is best planned for the morning.
hungry in the morning?
been told that breakfast is important, but you
don’t feel hungry in the morning.
Morning hunger can be dampened by the
appetite-dulling effects of coricotrophin-releasing
hormone (CRH) which begins to enter the blood stream
first thing in the morning.
Decreased liver function due to adrenal fatigue
or a heavy toxic burden can also dampen morning
So even if you don’t feel hungry, having a
nutritious breakfast within an hour of rising – with
protein – will provide not only energetic benefits
to your metabolism but the cortisol levels will last
throughout the day.
Here are some other simple ways to gently support your body’s natural
- Eat breakfast by 8:00 AM or within an
hour of getting up (earlier is better), to restore
blood sugar levels after using glycogen stores at
- Try to eat lunch between 11:00 AM and
12:00 noon. Your morning meal can be used up
- Eat a nutritious snack between 2:00
and 3:00 PM to get you through the natural dip in
cortisol around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon.
- Make an effort to eat dinner around
5:00 or 6:00 PM, and make this your lightest meal
of the day.
timing your meals you can prevent dramatic dips in
blood sugar, which will minimize cortisol output and
will free up you adrenals to perform their function
and give you sustained energy throughout the day.
Life becomes more enjoyable when we have the
energy we need.
We also need to think about what you eat.
Most people with adrenal problems, will reach
for foods that give them an instant burst of energy
— foods like cookies, cakes, doughnuts, white bread
or pasta. These foods contain refined sugar and flour,
they are high in carbs (which is really just long
chains of sugar molecules) that break down and allow a
great surge of energy, but generally the surge is
followed by an even greater dip in energy, causing you
to feel worse.
problem with high-carb foods like these is that they
often contain gluten, a protein that is found in many
grains (including wheat, rye and barley, and oats) and
frequently used as a food additive, too. Many people
with adrenal fatigue are sensitive to gluten. For this
reason, a gluten-free diet should be tried.
Often people will report feeling much better
when they get the gluten out of their diets.
might drink more coffee or soda throughout the day to
stay awake. You may think it’s not affecting your
sleep patterns, but research has linked higher
caffeine intake to classic “night owl” behavior.
(See our article on the caffeine).
Caffeine can pick you up in the short term, but it can
also over-stimulate the adrenals, which only compounds
fatigue as it wears off.
meals and snacks that are made of fresh whole foods,
preferably organic or locally grown, without colors,
dyes, chemicals, preservatives or added hormones are
best to strive for. Including some protein in all your
meals and snacks (especially in the morning) will have
a stabilizing effect on your blood sugar, which in
turn can help you overcome caffeine and sugar
Your Adrenal Glands
Building Healthy Adrenal Glands
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