For part three of the adrenal health series, I am going to go over the necessary steps you must take in order to recover from adrenal fatigue or dysfunction. It is important to note that these are general guidelines for healing. For a specific protocol, please contact me here to learn more about the one on one holistic nutrition coaching sessions I offer.
Now that I’ve taught you everything you need to know about adrenal fatigue – from what it is to how to test – I want to provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to develop a healing protocol for yourself, which is exactly what today’s post is all about: how to recover from adrenal fatigue and dysfunction.
As I explained in part one, adrenal fatigue and dysfunction is caused by chronic stress overtime. After chronic exposure to stress, your adrenal glands will no longer be able to keep up with the cortisol production it needs to produce in order to maintain homeostasis, which results in a dysfunctional cortisol rhythm as we reviewed in part two. However, this dysfunctional rhythm will eventually flatten out if the stress goes unresolved, which is what is referred to as stage 3 adrenal fatigue.
Since, stress is the root cause for poor adrenal health, it is only necessary that we begin to address stress as the first step in your adrenal healing protocol.
When we think of stress, we usually think about the mental stress we encounter throughout our life – perhaps you have a stressful job or a stressful relationship. This type of mental stress definitely takes a toll on our adrenal health, and is usually one of the main reasons for adrenal dysfunction, however, there are many different types of stress that go beyond mental stress. All of the types of stress that can be wreaking havoc on your adrenal health include:
It is essential that all of these areas are looked at when addressing stress and restoring adrenal function.
Since you’re on my blog and reading this article, you’ll likely know my views on food and nutrition. I believe that food can be used as medicine and use food in my private practice to promote and support healing. When we consume the right foods, our bodies can achieve a healthful balance. But is it possible for certain foods to have a negative impact on our health? Can certain foods actually be stressful on our bodies? Yes, they most definitely can!
Diet (or food) can be a huge stressor on the body, resulting in adrenal dysfunction, so it is critical that we always observe the diet when recovering from adrenal fatigue. A few of the main dietary stressors that would tax your adrenals are:
When consumed in excess, sugar causes our adrenal glands to pump out high amounts of cortisol. When trying to support normal adrenal function, making sure your sugar intake is limited is a good idea. It is common to crave sugars while suffering from adrenal dysfunction, but the energy spike you experience from consuming sugar is short lived and results in a blood sugar crash, further stressing the adrenals and leaving you feeling tired and fatigued, the main symptom of adrenal fatigue.
2. Vegetable oils
One of the best things you can do for yourself when recovering from adrenal dysfunction is to remove inflammatory foods from your diet. Vegetable oils are highly inflammatory and should be removed from everyone’s diet, not just those dealing with adrenal health issues. Please say goodbye to canola, sunflower, soybean, safflower, corn, and cottonseed oils. Forever.
Just like sugar, when caffeine is consumed in excess, the adrenals will pump out cortisol. This is something you will want to avoid when recovering from adrenal fatigue. When I work one on one with clients recovering from adrenal dysfunction, I will have them eliminate caffeine from their diet entirely. Not forever, but it is necessary for a time when healing the adrenals.
4. Allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities
Food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities cause harm to our gut. When our gut experiences stress, our adrenals experience stress, too, which is why gut health is so important when restoring the health of our adrenals! To prevent directly causing harm to your gut, it is important that we are aware of any and all food allergies or intolerances we have and avoid them. If you suspect food allergies and want to get tested, please contact me here. I am able to order you an allergy test and test you for food allergies. Then we can make sure you’re avoiding the foods that may be at the root cause of your health issues.
What to do:
One of the best ways to approach your diet when recovering from adrenal fatigue is to begin eliminating all foods that can contribute to inflammation: grains, legumes, dairy, sugar, and vegetable oils. The paleo diet is a great place to begin as it focuses on consuming anti-inflammatory foods, which will have a huge benefit on the health of your adrenals, not to mention your body as a whole!
Your lifestyle, just like your diet, can have a profound affect on the health of your adrenals. If your lifestyle is stressful or overtaxing, your adrenals will become overworked and stressed out. We must always address stressful lifestyle factors when dealing with adrenal fatigue because if lifestyle stress is not addressed, recovering from adrenal dysfunction is pretty much impossible.
One of the most common forms of lifestyle stress that I see with my clients is overexercising. I am a huge advocate for movement and taking part in a form of exercise that you love, but I see many females who over do it, exercise multiple times a day, or push their bodies far past their limits, which leaves them fatigued and usually moody, depressed, and anxious – all symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
It is absolutely necessary that we move our bodies – our bodies were meant to move! However, we need to let go of the belief that we need to leave the gym feeling as though we’ve been hit by a truck, hardly able to walk, and dripping sweat. You’re doing more harm than good to your body when you approach fitness this way.
What to do:
Examine your lifestyle. What stressors are you dealing with in your daily life? What do you need to let go of or address? If your workouts are putting to much stress on your body, I suggest taking a step back. Focus on moving in ways that feel good, never leaving you feeling fatigued or exhausted. You should never finish a workout feeling exhausted. Be gentle with yourself and focus on living your life in a way that honours gentleness.
All mental stress can wreak havoc on your adrenals, but one type of mental stressor that I see in almost all of my clients is the mental stress they devote to their diet. I see far too many females obsessing over their diet and stressing about what they should and should not eat. When recovering from adrenal fatigue, stressing about diet and other factors like this are going to prevent you from getting well. You must learn to let this type of stress go and truly focus on simply nourishing your body. Once you commit to this, you will be able to heal.
What to do:
Take a step back and understand what is currently mentally stressing you out. Realize that whatever you stress about in your mind throughout the day is preventing you from truly healing. It is hard to overcome mental stressors alone, so I highly suggest working with someone like myself.
Our emotions can take a toll on our health just as much as any other form of stress. Everything from trauma such as a car accident or death of a loved one to toxic relationships that leave us feeling unworthy or used can cause huge stress on our bodies and our adrenals.
With each client of mine, we take a deep look at their life and discuss if any of their stress is coming from an emotionally stressful factor. Addressing this aspect of your life is critical and must be done in order to understand the state of your adrenal health.
What to do:
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to rid your life of the toxic people and relationships that are currently in it. I realize it is not always possible to completely avoid a toxic person (hello, it might be a family member!), but it is important to realize who is toxic in our life and do our best to address the situation. Maybe it is your spouse or partner. This is the time to sit down with them and have a conversation about what can be done to improve your relationship.
It is possible for our adrenals to become stressed due to another system within our body undergoing stress. One of the most common body systems to undergo stress and affect the adrenals is your gut. If your gut is unhealthy, inflamed, or out of balance, your adrenals will become compromised, too. This is just one of the reasons why ensuring our gut is healthy is so important for our overall health. We cannot be healthy if our gut is not happy.
What to do:
Assess the health of your gut. Ensure that you are not consuming any foods that you are allergic, intolerant, or sensitive to. Support your gut flora by incorporating foods such as fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi on a daily basis. Avoid foods that cause imbalances in your gut flora such as refined carbohydrates, sugars, and other processed foods. If you suspect that you have poor gut health and would like to be tested, I offer GI stool testing and allergy testing. Contact me here for more information.
Often the root cause to all adrenal imbalances – biochemical stressors cannot be overlooked. One of the most common biochemical stressors that can cause adrenal dysfunction is blood sugar dysregulation. The blood sugar rollercoaster that many of us experience on a daily basis places a huge stress on our adrenals, causing cortisol production and crashes in our energy. Our diet must always support an even, healthy balanced blood sugar level when supporting adrenal health and dealing with adrenal dysfunction.
What to do:
Eliminate the dietary stressors from your diet (listed above under the “Diet” section of this article). Include a high quality source of protein with each of your meals. Examples include whole eggs, wild-caught fish, and grass-fed meats such as beef. Embrace fats and include them at every meal, as well! The best fats to include in your diet are avocado, coconut, 100% olive oil, ghee, grass fed butter, nuts and seeds, and animal fats.
In order to recover from adrenal fatigue or dysfunction, you must address all of the stressors in your life. Don’t expect to fully recover if you only address your diet and leave all of the other stressors in your life overlooked. If the main stress in your life is your job, but you continue going to work, hating what you do, and stewing about it, your adrenals will not restore their optimal function.
I hope you enjoyed this three part series about adrenal health. If you have any additional questions or topics you’d like me to address, please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to work with me on the health of your adrenals, please contact me here. I offer adrenal hormone testing and would love to work with you.