Learn how to get relief from the consequence of constant stress.
If you always feel tense or anxious, your body remains in a constant state of heightened arousal. Constantly overproducing cortisol and adrenaline day after day because of ongoing stress, multitasking, skipping meals, excessive calorie restriction, insufficient carbohydrate intake, too much protein consumption, lack of sleep, or too much coffee will lead to adrenal gland burnout.
In this state, your adrenal glands simply can’t keep up with the constant stimulation and outrageous demands for adrenaline and cortisol production, so they simply shut down. When your adrenal glands go on strike, cortisol and adrenaline levels plummet, which can result in many or all of the following symptoms:
- Chronic fatigue, lethargy, or difficulties getting up in the morning, even with sufficient sleep hours.
- Sleep difficulties.
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering.
- Weakened immunity, inflammation.
- Needing coffee or stimulants to get going in the morning.
- Feeling better suddenly for a brief period after a meal.
- Cravings for salty, fatty, and high-protein food such as chips, meat, and cheese.
- Intolerance for exercise – you may actually feel worse than better from exercise.
- Lowered blood pressure and blood sugar.
- Light-headedness (including dizziness and fainting) when rising from a sitting or lying-down position.
A common clinical problem with underactive adrenal glands is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugars, especially between meals or while sleeping. When your body is healthy, it releases hormones like cortisol to help liberate glucose to maintain the functions of our brain, organs, and cells when blood sugar levels decline between meals, or overnight during sleep. When cortisol is depleted, however, glucose levels tend to become too low. Ultimately this causes light-headedness, shakiness, and irritability typically associated with the low blood sugar experience. It also explains why people with low blood sugar commonly wake up during the night.
Step 1: Reduce Stress by Keeping Your Blood Sugar Balanced
Unfortunately, when blood sugar drops, many people with adrenal fatigue tend to think they need to go for a sugar fix to bring their blood sugar back in balance, but this provides only a temporary fix that is always followed by a crash. The key to maintaining stable blood sugar and to avoiding the uncomfortable fogginess that comes with highs and lows is to go for protein, carb, fat, and fiber four times per day. Below is a sample diet plan for healthy adrenal glands:
7 a.m. – 8 a.m.
Anyone with adrenal fatigue should break their overnight fast with a protein-rich meal and avoid skipping breakfast, as that only creates more stress and fatigue. However – the wrong breakfast will also cause more blood sugar imbalance and cravings, so here is the best option:
Meal 1: Eggs, goat cheese, mixed greens, pumpkin and sesame seeds with Celtic sea salt. Enjoy with one cup of organic coffee (max).
Tip: Say no starchy carbs at breakfast! It helps to control blood sugar for the day and prevent cravings. It also helps to improve mental function and focus. And use Celtic sea salt as a source of natural minerals that help with energy, hydration, and blood pressure balance.
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Many people with adrenal burnout tend to have low blood sugar levels between meals since the hormones that help them regulate blood sugars are bottomed out. You want to boost blood sugar for energy – but not too much!
Meal 2: Sliced turkey, feta, strawberries, and Vidalia onion on a bed of greens salad. Top with toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds.
3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Regular meal times and consistency is vital to help repair adrenal glands and imbalanced sugars. You can also include certain foods known to particularly improve adrenal gland health.
Meal 3: An option containing whey – which helps to balance cortisol. A whey protein smoothie is an easy option with whey, almond butter, almond milk or water, and a fiber supplement – you just shake and go! More great options include:
- 1 cup Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt contains the most whey, which naturally helps to balance cortisol.
- 10 toasted walnuts and/or pecans. Both of these nuts have cortisol-balancing properties, antioxidants, and essential fats to improve blood sugar balance.
- Shaved dark chocolate or two squares of dark chocolate. Chocolate boosts your mood and balances cortisol - even in pregnant women. It also helps blood sugar and insulin balance and aids digestion, which is often in of need of support in those with adrenal fatigue.
- 1 small sliced kiwi or ½ cup strawberries. Your top two fruit selections for a dose of vitamin C.
6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
In addition to keeping your blood sugar topped up and balanced we now also want to think of boosting the hormones that help our mood for burnout recuperation and our sleep for nighttime rejuvenation.
Meal 4: A meal containing starchy carbs to improve sleep and balance cortisol into the evening. The best low-carb grain option is a quinoa chicken curry stir-fry.
Step 2: Up Your Vitamin C
The adrenal glands naturally contain the highest concentration of vitamin C in the body. When we are under stress, however, this store of vitamin C depletes very quickly. The trick to help your adrenals repair is to include regular sources of vitamin-C-rich foods throughout the day. Your best choices are strawberries; red, orange, and yellow peppers; guavas; dark leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach; kiwi; broccoli; citrus foods; cooked tomatoes; green peas; and papaya.
Step 3: Protect Your Adrenals From the Stress of Exercise
In the state of adrenal fatigue, the body does not have the supply of hormones needed to maintain energy, performance, and to simply adapt to the demand of rigorous exercise. Running, Spinning, and all other forms of endurance activity will only worsen adrenal fatigue. Choose activities that will not stress your body and that will help to refill energy reserves rather than continue to drain them. Your best options are yoga, walking, and two to three short circuit-style weight-training sessions per week.