Adrenal Fatigue: 4 Foods That Are Draining Your Body
Stress is your body’s built-in survival mechanism. Our ancestors tapped into this response to fight or outrun predators, and today, our bodies are still primed to survive emergency situations. The problem is that stress today isn’t the same as stress so many years ago. Today, we get stressed from things like deadlines at work, arguments at home, and nearly worthless diets — constant things that can overtax your body’s ability to handle any more stress.
Your body can’t tell whether you’re being chased by a lion or you’re just in a tough spot emotionally. It only knows that you feel like you’re under attack, so it responds as it always has — by producing the stress hormone, cortisol, to give you the boost you need to run or fight. However, your body and hormones can’t keep up the pace of constant stress, and you’ll eventually run out of cortisol.
Your adrenal glands are responsible for keeping you alive by releasing cortisol when you experience stress. But this survival mechanism taxes your mind and body and is only meant to be temporary. Today, daily stress and other factors, such as poor dietary choices, chronic illness, and more, can make stress a constant presence.
When your adrenal glands are no longer able to produce enough cortisol, you’ll be left exhausted, more susceptible to illness, and unable to lose or control your weight. While you can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, you can mitigate its effects on your body and prevent adrenal fatigue with a few adjustments to your diet.
What Does Food Have to Do With Adrenal Fatigue?
Back when stress was still just a survival mechanism, our ancestors’ diets were balanced with healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. This is the food nature provided, and it was what our bodies were designed to eat. Now, processed carbohydrates and refined sugars dominate most of our dietary choices.
This has sent our society into a health crisis of weight troubles and a host of other problems, including adrenal exhaustion. Much of this crisis results from processed carbohydrates, such as pretzels and white bread, that have been altered to provide virtually no nutritional value. While these carbs contain almost nothing beneficial, they still convert to sugar as your body processes them.
The resulting blood sugar spikes and dips can become more than your body can handle. As it responds by calling on your stress response to keep your energy up, this only exacerbates your adrenal response further. Coupled with myriad daily stressors, unhealthy eating behaviors keep your hormone production at elevated levels.
This only makes you further crave processed foods and can lead to a long list of chronic conditions and illnesses. By contrast, a diet that is balanced with healthy fats, carbohydrates, and proteins can give your body lasting energy without having to call on your adrenals to pull you out of a blood sugar dip.
Change Your Diet to Fight Adrenal Fatigue
There are certain foods common in Americans’ diets that can spike adrenal activity. Reduce adrenal fatigue by cutting the following foods out of your regular routine:
It’s sad but true: The very thing most people rely on to help fight fatigue is also one of the things likely making it worse. Coffee wakes you up by stimulating your adrenal glands into producing cortisol. In essence, it’s an artificial stress stimulator, and without an outlet to release the adrenaline, your glands will burn out.
Refined sugars are public health enemy No. 1. Aside from handling stress, cortisol also helps you maintain your blood sugar levels and control your body’s inflammatory response. Refined sugars can spike your blood sugar, depleting your cortisol production until it can no longer control your blood levels or handle stress effectively. This makes refined sugar one of the leading dietary factors behind issues such as depression.
Even gluten-free versions of foods such as bread, bagels, and pizza can spike your blood sugar as much as actual sugar. Many contain refined flours and have a high glycemic load, which your body has to balance by producing insulin (to absorb it) and glucagon (to release it). Processed carbs disrupt this delicate balance, leading to adrenal fatigue and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
The key to maintaining a healthy weight isn’t to cut out fat; it’s to choose healthy fats. Your body needs healthy fats such as avocado, coconut, olive oil, nuts, and animal fats to sustain your blood sugar throughout the day. Because healthy fats have no impact on your blood sugar, you can go a step further by using them to replace some of the carbs in your diet.
It’s no secret that the quality of the food you eat has a significant bearing on your overall well-being. What might not be as obvious, however, is how poor-quality food is stressful for your body. By eliminating these four foods from your diet, you’ll lower your risk for adrenal fatigue and reduce body aches, chronic fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.