Adrenal Fatigue Part II – What To Do if You Have it!
When dealing with adrenal fatigue, the primary goal of your meal plan is to focus on blood sugar regulation and adequate protein intake to provide the material necessary to synthesize hormones, neurotransmitters and enzymes as well as build lean muscle tissue. There are certain targeted nutrients that work together as co-factors to catalyze the recovery process that will also be discussed.
To maintain blood sugar balance it is important to eat a protein rich meal within one hour of waking as the body has had no nourishment in over 8-10 hours.
Breakfast should NEVER be skipped.
Remove all known allergens, toxins and stimulants from your diet, including gluten, sugar and artificial sweeteners and caffeine.
Meals and snacks should be eaten at regular intervals throughout the day and each meal and snack should have lean protein, a healthy fat and some complex carbohydrate from fruit and vegetables.
Blood sugar is best regulated with small amounts of carbohydrates as to not put too much strain on the pancreas and spike insulin. According to Schwarzbein, meals should limit carbohydrate intake to between 15-25 grams and snacks should have 7.5 grams of carbohydrate.
Best Food Sources and Daily Needs For Targeted Nutrients
Lean protein in the form of pastured eggs, pastured chicken, and grass fed beef or bison, lamb, turkey, wild caught salmon, tuna, shellfish, and tempeh organic and/or raw full fat dairy (dairy is highly allergenic and should be removed for a 30 day trial before including it in your diet) should be eaten at every meal and snack as protein is necessary for the production of hormones, neurotransmitters and enzymes.
Adequate amounts of protein will also stave off carbohydrate cravings and give a great sense of satiety. Adequate protein intake is dependent on the amount of stress a person is experiencing. According to Bauman (2011), a person under minimal stress should consume .8 grams of protein per kg of body weight, while a person under mild stress should consume between .8 and 1.2 grams, moderate stress, 1.3-1.5 grams and severe stress, 1.5-2 grams per kg of body weight. Others like Robb Wolf, suggest, 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. I find the most people respond best to .8-1 grams per pound of body weight. This would be approximately 120-150 grams for a 150 pound person.
Magnesium may be the most commonly deficient mineral in human nutrition, even though dietary sources of this nutrient abound. Because it is the calming or anti-stress mineral, it’s very important to many human functions. Magnesium is also necessary for building body tissue — especially bone.
Key functions of magnesium include:
•Relaxes your muscles, including the heart.
•Works in concert with enzymes to carry out metabolic functions, including protein synthesis, energy production, and neuromuscular function.
•Used for poor sleep, anxiety, menstrual cramps, muscle cramps or spasms, high blood pressure, asthma attacks, and abnormal heartbeats.
You find magnesium mostly in plant foods — grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and seeds — although seafood is also high in this mineral. Dark green vegetables are a particularly good source of magnesium. Recommended amount under stress should be 200-300 mg daily. A good source of supplemental magnesium is Natural Calm powder which can be bought at most health food stores.
Potassium is also critical for relief from adrenal fatigue. In adrenal fatigue, low aldosterone levels can result in increased sodium losses; this may result in lower blood pressure and dizziness unless individuals with the condition increase their salt intake. In restoration of the adrenal gland function, typically one should include potassium rich foods and avoid foods that are too high in sodium. This will help to keep the sodium/potassium balance in the body. In the standard American diet, people generally consume too much sodium, which can elevate blood pressure. If your body is too high in potassium then decrease the amount you are consuming and add a little sea salt to your diet. Foods high in potassium include asparagus, basil, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, kale, garlic, mushrooms spinach, Swiss chard and tomatoes.
Maca Powder: Maca is in the Brassicaceae family, which includes turnips and radishes. Maca root is native to the Peruvian highlands. It is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it acts on the adrenal and hormone systems to balance them, and is useful for several health conditions. A typical dose of dried maca root is 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. daily, though people have taken higher doses without reported side effects or toxicity.
Adaptogenic Herbs: Siberian Ginseng – an herb with a long history of use across Russia and China. Known to provide adaptogenic effects on the adrenal glands, a wealth of studies also support its use in enhancing immunity, sustaining athletic endurance and improving social functioning.
Ashwaganda – sometimes referred to as Indian ginseng, this herb provides a range of effects that are largely comparable to Siberian ginseng. The herb is noted for its ability to balance out adrenal and thyroid problems and has been used to address hypofunction at both of these energy-producing glands.
Rhodiola Rosea – typically identified as an ideal herb to enhance both physical and mental resistance to stress. As well as providing adaptogenic effects at the adrenal glands, rhodiola can block the depletion of noradrenaline and dopamine that typically occurs in stressful situations. Healthier levels of these two catecholamines are related to better mental performance, energy and mood.
Vitamin C is utilized by the adrenal glands in the production of all of the adrenal hormones, most notably cortisol. When you are faced with a stressful situation, your vitamin C is rapidly used up in the production of cortisol and related stress-response hormones. Recommended 500-1000 mg 3 times a day
Pantothenic Acid or Vitamin B5: Vitamin B5 plays an important role in the secretion of hormones, such as cortisone because of the role it plays in supporting the adrenal gland. These hormones assist the metabolism, help to fight allergies and are beneficial in the maintenance of healthy skin, muscles and nerves. Vitamin B5 is also helpful to fight against wrinkles as well as graying of the hair. It is a water soluble vitamin or sometimes called anti-stress vitamin. It is required for the formation of anti-bodies i.e. immune system. Vitamin B5 helps to produce neurotransmitters required for proper nerve and muscle performance. A deficiency of Pantothenic acid may cause fatigue, psoriasis, and headache. Vitamin B5 is often used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis; swelling, pain and stiffness. Recommended: 250-500 mg 2-3 times a day.
Glutamine: Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid needed during periods of excessive stress. Glutamine is the preferred energy for enterocytes, the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract. Glutamine is also one of the three amino acids necessary to make glutathione, a potent scavenger of free radicals. Recommended 5-10 grams daily.
Next, I will discuss other lifestyle factors that contribute to adrenal fatigue and those that can reduce it.
Please contact me if you are interested in additional information on supplementation and testing for adrenal fatigue.
Bauman, E. and Friedlander, J. (2011). Therapeutic Nutrition-Part One. Penngrove, CA Bauman College
Brazier, Brendan. (2007). Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life
Murray, M. (1996). The Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Roseville, CA Prima
Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., and Pizzorno, l. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria Books
Perkins, Cynthia. (2011) Adrenal Fatigue or Adrenal Exhaustion. Retrieved fromhttp://www.holistichelp.net/adrenal-fatigue.html
Pick, Marcelle. (2011)Adrenal Health in Women Retrieved fromhttp://www.womentowomen.com/adrenalhealth/default.aspx
Ross, Julia. (1999). The Diet Cure. New York: Penguin Books
Shomon, Mary (2003). Adrenal Fatigue/Adrenal Exhaustion. Retrieved fromhttp://thyroid.about.com/cs/endocrinology/a/adrenalfatigue.htm