More caffeine, more sugar, more naps, more of anything to get us through the day. As a society we are more fatigued than ever and often left wondering why we never feel quite well-rested enough. No matter what we do to restore energy—or how much sleep we get—we always seem to be exhausted. This, my friends, is the epidemic of fatigue.
More than 1 million Americans struggle with chronic fatigue, while millions more have varying degrees of lethargy. One factor in this modern health problem is adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands release cortisol, your body's major stress hormone, and properly functioning cortisol is supposed to start off high in the morning and slowly taper off as the day goes on. The problem occurs when your brain-adrenal (HPA) axis isn't working the way it should. The communication between your brain and your adrenals is all over the place and it causes an imbalance of cortisol, which makes you feel constantly tired.
Worries about your adrenals? Here's what to do.
I, too, have struggled with adrenal fatigue, but instead of settling for feeling lousy I did something about it by bringing some simple functional medicine tools into my life. I get it, since you're already exhausted it can be overwhelming figuring out where to start your adrenal fatigue rehabilitation, that's why I created this one-day diet to start restoring your energy levels today. Let's take a look at how you can implement specific foods throughout your day to finally feel rested again.
Begin your morning by including adaptogenic herbs in your breakfast. Ashwagandha, rhodiola, and maca are all herbs that balance our cortisol levels. This smoothie also sneaks in some Brazil nuts, which are a hormone power food.
Adaptogenic Adrenal Balancing Smoothie
- 12 ounces full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or MCT oil
- 1 scoop collagen peptides
- 1 teaspoon ashwagandha powder
- 1 teaspoon rhodiola powder
- 1 tablespoon maca powder
- 1 cup frozen organic berries
- 1 drop stevia
- 1 cup spinach
- 5 Brazil nuts
Combine everything in a blender until smooth.
Methylation is essential for a healthy brain and hormone balance. Folate and B12 help support methylation pathways, which help to balance our melatonin-cortisol rhythm. Sulfuric vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, onions, and garlic all contain these vital nutrients for methylation. And by making fish the main component in this dish, you can be sure you're getting all the brain-boosting omega-3s you need.
Roasted Asian Salmon with Brussels Sprouts
- 4 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 pound wild-caught salmon filet, skinned, and cut into desired portions
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 1 large white onion, sliced
- 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- 1 cup Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
- ¼ cup coconut aminos
Preheat oven to 450°F and mix together garlic, coconut oil, ginger, and coconut aminos in small bowl. Place Brussels sprouts in roasting pan and top with half of liquid mixture. Roast for about 15 minutes. Remove Brussels sprouts from oven, stir, and place salmon on top. Top with remaining liquid mixture. Roast until salmon is cooked through, five to ten minutes.
Sometimes you need an added jolt when the afternoon rolls around. These energy balls contain some of the best energizers in the food medicine world. Almonds and coconut provide your brain with the healthy fats it needs to function at maximum capacity and the addition of adaptogens like cordyceps and rhodiola add just the right amount of kick to face the rest of the day head-on.
Coconut-Almond Energy Balls
- 2 cups almonds
- 1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
- 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cordyceps
- 1 teaspoon rhodiola, optional (if you want an extra boost)
In a food processor, blend almonds and coconut until broken down. Add in remaining ingredients and blend to form a paste. Scoop desired size and roll into balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and let set in freezer for one hour. Remove and store in sealed container.
Since your gut is considered your "second brain" it's important to bring healing to the gut in order to reduce inflammation and promote healthy function of the brain-adrenal (HPA) axis. Including bone broth with every meal can help facilitate healing leaky gut as the gelatin in the broth actually heals the lining of the digestive tract and assists with the digestion of nutrients in the foods you are eating. This is key when you are trying to get the most out of your stir-fry and morning adaptogenic smoothie. So make a big pot of bone broth and sip throughout the day! For dinner, get your bone broth in by using it as a base for this soup.
Parsnip and Pear Soup with Fried Sage
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups bone broth
- 2 pounds parsnips, chopped into 1½-inch chunks
- 1 large firm pear, cored and chopped into 1½-inch chunks
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup chopped fresh sage
- 1 pound cooked, shredded chicken
Heat 1 tablespoon of the solid cooking fat in a pot over medium heat. When the pot is warm and fat is melted, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook until fragrant. Add the bone broth and parsnips, bring to boil, turn down to a simmer, and let cook, covered for 10 minutes. Add the pear and salt and let cook until they are both soft. Heat the rest of the cooking fat in a small skillet on medium-high heat. When the fat has melted add the sage and cook until crispy. Blend the soup on high to create a thick puree, add salt to taste if needed, and serve garnished with fried sage.