Unless you’re living on a pure Himalayan mountaintop and meditating as a part-time job, there’s a high likelihood that your adrenals are overtaxed. Adrenal fatigue is less of a concrete illness and more of a sliding scale, with many people outside the optimal ranges.
Most of us live in concrete jungles replete with noise pollution, nasty chemicals in consumer products, overbooked schedules, and even pharmaceutical compounds in our drinking water. These and plenty of other health saboteurs make it that much more difficult to keep our biomarkers in check.
The following tips will benefit your health regardless, but it’d be wise to get tested to check the status of your adrenals, inflammation, and other biomarkers through a functional medicine or licensed health care provider.
No need to become Bubble Boy (or Gal). Let’s just take some practical measures and add a bit of diligence to your daily routine to reclaim your health, energy, libido, mood, and overall livelihood.
Ditch these foods like your health depends on it.
Aside from getting adequate sleep, adrenal healing mostly requires nourishing your body with the right foods and eliminating the rest. Ditch the top three inflammatory foods: wheat/gluten, dairy, and sugar (isolated/refined). If you’re even a moderate consumer of these foods, you’ll likely notice a big reduction in pain, increased weight loss, and mood improvements upon elimination.
Look next at your average carb intake. Slowly reduce your carbs to about 85 to 95 grams/day. Everyone has their own carb-intake threshold, particularly if you’re an active fitness machine, so play around with what works best for you. The worst carbs are from wheat, rye, barley, sourdough (all contain gluten and gliadin), sugar, alcohol, potatoes, and other grains like corn and rice.
The third step is to limit your coffee and caffeine intake, as caffeine is yet another adrenal stressor.
Try replacing it with something much easier on your adrenal glands like matcha tea. The caffeine in matcha tea is slowly released over a six-hour period, and the theanine it contains promotes focus and calm.
Eat more of these foods, mindfully.
As fun as it is to be told what not to do, or eat, let’s explore the green-light foods. The best carb sources are sweet potatoes, squashes, low-sugar fruits like blueberries, quinoa, and buckwheat. For the simple sugars you may be still consuming (honey, syrups, etc.) consider substituting with stevia or monk fruit.
For many people, the missing link is more fat. Experiment with incorporating good fats like avocado, grass-fed butter, grass-fed ghee, organic unrefined coconut oil, olive oil, fish, fish oil supplements, and most nuts. There is ample research showing that high-quality dietary fat helps people lose weight, mainly through reduced inflammation, satiety, and blood sugar stabilization. Avoid bad fats like soy, corn, rapeseed, and canola oil, which contribute to weight gain, inflammation, and heart disease.
It’s not only what you eat but how you eat that influences your health, particularly digestion. Make best friends with the word masticate. Eat at least one meal a day mindfully. Take four to five deep breaths, smell your food, give gratitude, and enjoy the meal as slowly and thoroughly as possible. Mindful eating is magnificent for improving digestion and other leading health indicators.
Don’t overlook your water and liquids either. Ideally you’re drinking (and bathing in) purified water. Reverse osmosis, charcoal, and UV light are all good purification methods each doing different things. And if you haven’t already, move away from bottled, BPA-leaching bottles and on to a glass bottle as soon as possible. Save the environment; save your health.
Timing and temperature matter too. Try to avoid drinking water and liquids, especially cold, with meals as it impairs your digestion by diluting your digestive enzymes and stomach acids. Consume water and other liquids hot or at room temperature, and drink 30 minutes before eating or an hour after meals.
If you feel you have a handle on the nutrition and you’re truly committed to healing your adrenals, focus next on sleep and stress.
Consistency is key. Try to be in bed by 10:30 p.m., and get seven and a half to eight hours of sleep a night. Some researchers believe every hour of sleep before 12 a.m. is roughly equivalent to two hours of sleep after midnight. This will assist those tired adrenals to begin rebuilding.
And of course, what good is a health post without mentioning meditation? Even 5 to 10 minutes of deep breathing into the belly twice daily will do wonders for you. Your body will move out of sympathetic overdrive and more into parasympathetic mode (rest, digest, and repair). See if you can do it once in the a.m. and once before bed. Deep, meditative breathing is critical to adrenal health, resulting in positive biochemical changes.
Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.