The Connection Between Adrenal Fatigue & Low Blood Sugar
By Dr. James Wilson & Eric Bakker ND
The Adrenal Fatigue Diet is an important web page for those who can relate to this condition. Even in the best of times, you need food to survive and be healthy. Adrenal fatigue is definitely not the best of times, so the food choices you make become even more important to your health. When your adrenals respond to stress your cell metabolism speeds up, burning many times the number of nutrients normally needed. With adrenal fatigue, the cells have used up much of the body’s stored nutrients, creating a nutritional void. Good quality food is the best source for replenishing these nutrients. Here is some great information summarised regarding the best food choices for those who are fatigued and adrenally compromised. Be sure to read What To Eat For Fatigue in addition to this article.If you have adrenal fatigue, when you eat is almost as important as what you eat. By eating natural, high quality food at frequent, regular intervals, you can help avoid low drops in blood sugar and make a difference in your adrenal health and energy levels.
When to Eat
One of the major dietary mistakes made by people with low adrenal output is not eating soon enough after waking. If you have adrenal fatigue, it is very important that you eat before 10:00 am. This is vital in helping to replenish the waning stored blood sugar supply after the previous night’s energy needs.
An early lunch, preferably before noon, is better than a late lunch because your body quickly uses up the morning nourishment and is ready for more. Between 11 and 11:30 am is usually the best time for lunch. You should also eat a nutritious snack between 2 and 3 pm to sustain yourself for the cortisol dip that typically occurs between 3 and 4 pm. Your evening meal should be eaten between 5 and 6 pm.
A few bites of a high quality snack before bed can help get through sleep disturbances.
What to Eat and Drink
If you suffer from adrenal fatigue, you will do best combining fat, protein and complex carbohydrates (like whole grains) at every meal and snack. This combination helps provide a steady stream of energy throughout the day. It is important to remember that foods that are converted too quickly into energy (like sugary snacks or highly processed foods) will quickly let you down
In most cases of adrenal fatigue, salt (in moderation) benefits those who add it to their diet. Unless you are one of the rare people with adrenal fatigue and high blood pressure, add some salt to your food. A sea salt or Celtic salt is preferred, as these are the kinds containing the valuable nutrients. Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are actually caused by your body’s needs for salt.
Good quality protein from meat, fish, fowl, eggs, dairy and various plant sources (soy and other legumes, nuts and seeds) is helpful in dealing with adrenal fatigue. Try to avoid processed proteins such as packaged lunch meats and processed cheeses. Proteins generally have more nutritional value and are easier to digest when eaten lightly cooked or raw. You can read more about Basic Protein Choices here.
Every day, you should include 6-8 servings of a wide variety of vegetables in your meals, especially those that are naturally highly colored (bright green, red, orange, yellow or purple). Vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and a high amount of fiber. It is a good to idea to vary how you prepare vegetables, because different nutrients are made available through different cooking methods.
Adrenal Recovery Soup
The following vegetable soup recipe has proved helpful in adrenal support. This high-energy soup, called “Taz,” comes from Dolores S. Downey’s “Balancing body chemistry with nutrition” seminars. 16 oz. green beans 1 cup chopped celery 1 zucchini, sliced 1 medium onion, chopped 1 cup tomato juice 1 cup spring water 2 tbsp. raw honey 1 tsp. paprika 1 cup chicken broth. Combine ingredients and simmer for one hour until vegetables are tender. Pepper to taste.
People with adrenal fatigue and blood sugar problems should go lightly on fruits, especially in the morning. Fruits contain a significant amount of fructose and potassium, which is a detrimental combination for those with exhausted adrenals. However, it is preferable that any fruit that you do eat is organically grown. Below is a short list of fruits people with adrenal fatigue tend to do well with, and ones they should avoid.
Fruits to Avoid
grapes (only a few)
Summary of What to Eat When You Have Adrenal fatigue
Here are 9 easy rules to follow:
1) Eat a wide variety of whole, natural foods
2) Combine a healthy fat, protein and carbohydrate source with every meal
3) Eat lots of vegetables, especially the brightly colored ones
4) Salt your food to a pleasant taste
5) Eat mainly whole grains as your source of carbohydrate
6) Combine grains with legumes (beans), or legumes with seeds or nuts to form a complete protein
7) Avoid fruit in the morning
8) Mix 1-2 tablespoons of fresh oils (olive, grape seed, safflower, flax, etc.) into grains, vegetables and meats daily
9) Eat high quality food; it becomes you.
By following these simple guidelines, your food intake can help support your adrenals.
What Not to Eat
Eating the wrong foods or combination of foods can throw you off for hours, even days. Pick the foods that are recommended and stick with them.
Sugar and White Flour Products
Ironically, foods made with sugar and white flour – doughnuts, rolls, pies, cakes, cookies, candy bars, soft drinks – are the ones many people experiencing adrenal fatigue crave the most. This is because hypoglycemia and adrenal fatigue often go hand in hand, and foods made from refined flour and/or sugar quickly raise your blood sugar. The problem is, they raise your blood sugar too high, causing an excess insulin release. The excess insulin causes blood sugar levels to crash, often leading to hypoglycemic symptoms and more cravings, creating a dangerous cycle.
Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils
Three common examples of these types of oils are vegetable shortening, margarine, and the oil used in commercial peanut butters. When you eat foods containing hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats, they disrupt normal fatty acid metabolism in your body. These oils use up the enzymes that normally would be utilized by the good oils to help create high quality cell membranes and nerve sheaths. Read more about Hydrogenated Fats here.
Avoid Deep-Fried Foods
Most deep-fried foods are fried in hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. Not only do these foods have the dangers mentioned previously, they also contain toxic free radicals formed when the oils break down with heat that can cause oxidative tissue damage throughout the body.
Fast Foods and Junk Foods
There are numerous problems with fast foods and junk foods: they often contain white flour, sugar, hydrogenated fats, or all three; often their ingredients are of poor quality with little nutritional value; and what nutrients they have are often lost due to being kept hot or stored for long periods of time. It is questionable whether some junk foods are even food at all!
It is also important to avoid foods you are allergic or sensitive to, as well as foods you are addicted to.
The Act of Eating
How you eat can have as much of an effect on your adrenal glands as what you eat. Before starting a meal, it is important to prepare your body for the complicated processes of digestion, absorption, and utilization of energy and nutrients. If you have any control over your eating environment, choose a peaceful spot with pleasant surroundings. Eating with friends is also a good idea; congenial conversation and good company promote relaxation and digestion. Eat your food sitting down in a relaxed position; it is important to avoid hectic or rushed meals. It is also important to chew your food well; – chew 30 times per mouthful if at all possible.
Below is a list of beverages that work better for people with adrenal fatigue. Remember that it is best to avoid drinks (and foods) containing caffeine.
- Water – pure, clean spring water is best. Many people experiencing adrenal fatigue find they feel better if they lightly salt their water (a pinch up to ¼ teaspoon in 8 oz water– to taste), especially in the morning.
- Green Tea – it is better for you than black tea or coffee, due to its high content of antioxidants and other nutrients
- Barley Tea – tea made from roasted barley., available at most Asian markets and some health food stores
- Bancha Tea – also available at many Asian markets
- Herbal Teas – there are many varieties available, but keep in mind it is best to avoid those mixed with black tea
- Vegetable Juices – these contain many nutrients that are excellent for the body. Combinations like carrot/celery,/parsley are rich in color, high in vitamins, and help to stimulate the liver. It is best to avoid the ones containing sugar, corn syrup or fruit juice.
- Goat’s Milk – a much better choice than cow’s milk. It is more similar to human milk, lower in lactose and much less likely to cause allergies. It is a rich source of many nutrients.
- Carob – can be used as a chocolate substitute. Whereas chocolate aggravates hypoglycemia and overstimulates the adrenals, carob normalizes hypoglycemia and does not contain stimulants. To make into a drink, mix one heaping teaspoon of carob with one teaspoon of honey diluted in one teaspoon of warm water, then stir this syrup into 6 to 8 ounces of hot or cold goat, nut or rice milk.
Beverages to Avoid:
- Chocolate – hot cocoa and other chocolate beverages are too likely to overstimulate the adrenals with the combination of caffeine and sugar they contain.
- Caffeine – There has long been convincing evidence about the adverse effects of caffeine and caffeine-like substances on your health. Caffeine can drive the adrenals, further depleting them. The best advice is to avoid these substances altogether.
- Alcohol – a special kind of poison for the adrenals that should not be consumed by people suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Soft Drinks – colas and other carbonated beverages contain sugar or artificial sugar, and most contain caffeine. The detrimental effects caused by these ingredients have been