Eating Right For Your Adrenal Glands, Part 3: What You Eat
December 1, 2011 | Published by Dr. Eric Bakker
Coffee and adrenal fatigue – A common fatigue combo
Coffee shops are a ubiquitous part of the landscape of many developed countries. Many men and women with adrenal fatigue drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages in increasing amounts throughout the day just to stay pepped up and awake. They may think it’s not affecting their sleep patterns, but research has linked higher caffeine intake to classic “night owl” or “eveningness” behavior. Caffeine can pick you up in the short term, but it can also overstimulate the adrenal glands, which only compounds fatigue as it wears off.
If you find yourself craving caffeine or sugar, it may be that your cortisol is too low, but it also simply may be that your body needs to rest. Instead of always trying to step it up another notch, I encourage you to honor your body’s request and take a break. Take a quiet moment and treat yourself to some deep breathing or a ten minute walk. If drinking a cup of coffee is a relaxing part of your routine and you find it difficult to give up totally, drink it in the morning before lunch time when your cortisol levels tend to be higher anyway, and preferably with something nutritious to eat. Be cautious with coffee, for it can become a real trap for those with adrenal fatigue.
Choosing the right drinks
Just as with food, your choices about drinks can contribute to the support or strain on your adrenal glands. Here are some good and not-so-good choices.
-Adrenal depleting beverages – alcohol, coffee, black tea, sports drinks, sodas
-Adrenal restoring beverages – herbal teas like Ginseng (especially in the morning), licorice, vegetable juice, V8 (with salt)
Every day we make choices about what we eat and drink. Some days those choices are helpful for the body and other days — or meals — aren’t so helpful. What I encourage you to focus on is balance; nourishing your body with balanced meals and snacks can do wonders for your energy and feed your adrenal health at the same time. Yet, you don’t want to be so stuck on eating “right” that you cause yourself more stress! I always tell my patients to follow the 80/20 rule – eat their best 80% of the time. The other 20% is up to them. Relax!
Eating and drinking sensibly will support your adrenal gland function
As our awareness about when we eat increases, it’s also helpful to think more about what we eat. Stress often brings out the worst in us, especially when it comes to food choices. Many patients with adrenal fatigue tell me they reach for foods that give them an instant burst of energy — foods like cookies, cakes, doughnuts, potato chips, candy bars, instant noodles or pasta dishes. These foods contain highly refined carbs such as sugar and flour, 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.
Another problem with high-carb foods like these is that they often contain gluten, a protein that is found in many grains (including wheat, rye, barley, and oats). I have found in my practice that many people with adrenal fatigue can become increasingly sensitive to gluten as their immune systems become more and more compromised due to reducing cortisol levels. For this reason, a gluten-free diet is one of the first things I suggest to my patients with symptoms of adrenal fatigue, particularly those with severe fatigue, and these patients often report feeling much better when they get the gluten out of their diets.
Eating meals and snacks that are made of fresh whole foods — locally grown, without colors, chemicals, preservatives or added hormones — are best to strive for. Go for organic where you can, and if you have the facilities, try to grow your own salad vegetables at home! Including some protein in all your meals and snacks (especially in the morning) can have a stabilizing effect on your blood sugar, which in turn can help you overcome caffeine and sugar cravings. To lessen the stress that often comes with trying to eat healthfully, think about preparing nutritious foods on the weekends so you have them ready and available on busy weeknights, or stop at a health food store to pick up some healthy snacks and ingredients to help you make tasty and healthy dishes during the week. Don’t feel guilty if your food isn’t homemade every day, but do avoid “junk” if you eat out or get take-away foods. Guilt is the last thing your adrenals need!
About the Author
Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 25 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida yeast infections, as well as adrenal fatigue, and thyroid disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. Website: candidacrusher.com. You can complete his online survey to determine if you have a yeast infection here, or link through to his many You Tube videos: www.yeastinfection.org Dr. Bakker’s Blog: www.ericbakker.com
Categorised in: Nutrition