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What’s The Best Diet To Reverse Your Adrenal Fatigue?

...from someone who's been there personally & has since helped many recover.

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FEATURED ON
August 31, 2018

I’ve personally explored many different ways of eating. I’ve been a vegetarian, a vegan, a raw vegan, a fruitarian, a juice faster, a high-meat low carb-er, a paleo-er, and probably a few more in between.

I’ve explored all these different diets throughout my life all in an attempt to feel my best. Before I knew I had pretty severe adrenal fatigue (a.k.a. HPA axis dysregulation) from an actual test result, I always just felt… pretty bleh. I was more tired than my friends, I had some form of “stimulation overload” pretty much all the time, my emotions were lackluster, and I had asthma. This was my everyday experience.

Functional medicine completely changed my life in a way I never knew was possible. When adrenal fatigue comes on so slowly over the course of years and years, you may not realize you’re in it. You may not realize that the overwhelming fatigue, the feeling mentally worn out after your family game night, or the missing out on weekend getaways because you’re too overwhelmed isn’t normal or fair. Adrenal fatigue may not be recognized by the conventional medical community, but it’s very real.

Over the course of trying to figure out which particular way of eating made me feel the best, I completely neglected how I was eating. Meaning, I never truly minded my blood sugar. Since adrenal fatigue and blood sugar imbalances truly lead into and cause each other, it’s incredibly important to balance your blood sugar when you’re recovering from adrenal fatigue.

Do you have adrenal fatigue? Know for sure with a simple test.

So which is the best diet for recovering from adrenal fatigue?

My all time #1 favorite diet for reversing adrenal fatigue is what I like to call The Mitochondrial Diet.

Initially based on The Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls, I’ve developed The Mitochondrial Diet over the years I’ve been working to help others reverse their own adrenal fatigue to include balancing the blood sugar, (1) restoring cellular energy levels, (2) reducing inflammation, (3) regulating cortisol and DHEA production, (4) and restoring communication between the adrenals and the brain.

We all know how adrenal fatigue can make you feel so incredibly tired. Not only are we working to reverse adrenal fatigue in itself with this diet, but we’re also cleaning out and waking up the cells so they’ll not only renew themselves and produce energy more efficiently, but they’ll renew quickly so they can effectively and efficiently do what they need to do (detox, signal other cells, etc).

Here’s how you do it.

Part 1: Elimination

Step 1: Refrain from gluten and dairy for as long as you’re on your adrenal fatigue reversing journey.

These foods are, by far, the most common sensitivities that my clients have. Because of this, they commonly contribute to inflammation. In any state of adrenal fatigue, you want to reduce inflammation and not support it. You can use unsweetened coconut or almond milk in place of regular milk. Unsweetened soy milk is ok in moderation, and only as part of your 1 serving per day of grains and legumes (see the following section for more info).

Step 2: Refrain from corn and eggs for 2 months.

These sensitivities are slightly less common, but still fairly common. By eliminating these for a long period of time (2 months) and then adding them back in one at a time, we can better see if they are negatively affecting you or not.

If you have joint pain or rheumatoid arthritis, refrain from nightshades for 2 months. Nightshades include potatoes (does not include yams or sweet potatoes), eggplant, bell peppers, okra, tomatoes/tomatillos, cayenne, and paprika.

Set a reminder in your phone or calendar for 2 months from the day you completely eliminate these foods. The reminder will be to add in eggs if you desire. Add in eggs for one full day and then eliminate it again for the following 2 days. Record each of these days in your food journal and notice any negative reactions.

Negative reactions include: fatigue, insomnia, joint/body pain, skin rashes, headaches, constipation/diarrhea, bloating, mental fog, sinus/allergies, increased energy as soon as a food is introduced (may indicate a stress response)

After experimenting with eggs for one day and then eliminating it the following 2 days, you can then add in corn in the same way. Eat corn for one day and eliminate it for 2 days afterwards. Record how you feel on each of these 3 days in your food journal. Then move on to each item in the nightshade family separately.

Foods that you find you have an intolerance to should be eliminated completely for at least six months. You may then try reintroducing them in the above way.

Part 2: What To Eat

About 20% of your daily calories should come from high quality protein sources. This generally equals out to be about 100 grams of protein per day.

Examples:
1 chicken breast is 25 g of protein
1 small soap-bar piece of steak is 21 grams of protein

Red meat should be grass-fed whenever possible. Chicken should be organic or pasture-raised whenever possible. Fish should be wild-caught. If you find you can tolerate eggs, eggs should be pasture-raised.

The difference between “pastured” meat/eggs and conventional meat/eggs is HUGE. The omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is vastly different (5) making conventional meats and eggs much more “inflammatory.” The nutrient profile is largely different as well.

You don’t have to be too meticulous with this number of 100 grams. Don’t stress yourself out, but know that once you are able to “eyeball” protein content by weighing your meat or looking up how many grams of protein is in your dinner etc, it will get much easier to guesstimate as the days go on.

The reason for the slightly higher than average protein requirement is because the high cortisol levels in the initial stages of adrenal fatigue put your body into a state of catabolic physiology, (6) which essentially means your body is ever-so-slowly eating itself by taking amino acid stores from your lean muscle tissue and inner gut lining. This leads to a decrease of muscle mass and leaky gut.

You will want to work up to the following amount of fruits and vegetables per day:

  • 3 cups PACKED raw or cooked organic dark leafy greens
  • 3 cups colorful organic fruits and vegetables (berries, tomatoes, peppers, beets, squash)
  • 3 cups sulfur-rich organic vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, brussels, onions, garlic).

You can work up to this high number of fruits and vegetables slowly. Incorporating this amount all at once may produce a “herx” (a.k.a. detox) reaction. I recommend starting with 2 cups and working your way up as long as you feel good.

The most important fruits and vegetables to buy organic are:

• celery
• peaches
• strawberries
• apples
• domestic blueberries
• nectarines
• sweet bell peppers
• spinach, kale and collard greens
• cherries
• potatoes
• imported grapes
• lettuce

You will want to have about 1 tsp. – 1 Tblsp. of a high-quality fat with each meal and snack. Not only will this help to stabilize your blood sugar, but your mitochondria (the part of your cells that make energy) prefer to use medium-chain triglycerides as fuel. (7) These are found in coconut oil. I recommend at least 1 Tblsp. of coconut oil per day.

Do not cook with any oils other than palm, coconut, olive, or macadamia oil. Contrary to popular belief, new research suggests olive oil cooked below its “smoke point” is perfectly ok.

Grains and beans/legumes should be limited to around 1 serving a day if you’d like. You don’t have to eat grains and beans if they make you feel bloated or you don’t have a taste for them. Besides gluten and corn, grains and beans are ok in very small amounts. The main two reasons for this is that they contain phytic acid, (8) an “anti-nutrient” that can leach minerals from the body, and they’re also not as nutrient dense as fruits, vegetables, or meats. Your diet should mostly be focused on high-quality meats, fats, fruits, and vegetables.

1 serving = 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, ½ cup of rice or other non-gluten grain, or 1 slice of gluten-free (and egg-free) bread.

The best salt to use on foods you make yourself is celtic sea salt. Celtic sea salt contains a wide variety of trace minerals which will help to balance your electrolytes, which can be huge in adrenal fatigue recovery. Avoid table salt whenever possible.

Part 3: What to Avoid

Avoid gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, and (maybe) nightshades. See the first part of this plan for details.

Also avoid:

Sugar
You can have 12g or less of natural sugar per day. This generally means honey or maple syrup. This is equivalent to 2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup per day. Make sure you don’t have this alone, and only have if protein and fat is part of the meal or snack as well.

Avoid agave, refined sugar, and “evaporated cane juice.”

Coffee
Recommended to AVOID completely. It’s completely fine to taper down if you aren’t used to going without it. Replace coffee with licorice tea in the mornings (not recommended if you have high blood pressure) or peppermint tea.

Many of you know I recovered from adrenal fatigue while still drinking one cup of coffee per day. If you can’t live without it, make sure you drink coffee AFTER breakfast, and keep it to 5 ounces.

Alcohol
Avoid alcohol during your wellness plan.

Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame, Splenda, Nutrisweet, etc… are all a big NO as they can affect brain chemistry. Stevia and xylitol are ok. Be aware they may cause sugar cravings if you are prone to this.

Part 4: How To Eat

Mind your blood sugar. Stabilizing your blood sugar will go a long way towards restoring your adrenal function, (8) which will in turn help every single metabolic process in the body do what it needs to do. This will help you start to feel better physically, have steadier energy, experience greater emotional stability, and improve sleep quality.

• Eat protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fat with every meal and snack.

• Eat frequently (4-6 times/day)

• Make sure you’re eating every 4 hours or less

• Eat within an hour of waking up

 

Part 5: Prepare

Stock your kitchen well and keep it stocked with only healthful choices.

Prepare meals and snack foods ahead of time, so it’s easy to “grab and go.” Prepare salads in glass tupperware with dressing on the side for easy lunches to go. Cook 6 or more sausages and keep them in the refrigerator in tupperware. Grill or bake a bunch of chicken breasts at a time. Slice up raw vegetables. Figure out what you’re going to have for dinner each night for the next week and prep the ingredients so it’s easy to put together (if you wish). Use your weekend to plan, shop and prepare for the upcoming week.

Listen to your body. If it’s telling you to eat more protein or fat, honor that. Careful with honoring a sugar craving, as that’s usually tied to a deeper issue (neurotransmitter imbalance, blood sugar instability, candida). You may have fruit if you are craving sugar, but make sure to include the appropriate amounts of protein and fat with it as well.

That’s it! That’s The Mitochondrial Diet for adrenal fatigue in a nutshell. I’ve found this way of eating to be incredibly profound for my adrenal fatigue clients. We tend to get results quickly, effectively, and sustainably.

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