Eating for Health: Adrenal Fatigue

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?

Feeling cold or chilled, low Basal body temperature, low energy, fatigue, inability to loose weight, depression, anxiety, mental fog, allergies, colds, poor immune system, aches and pains, repetitive use injuries like carpal tunnel, low libido, PMS, infertility, acne, dry skin, oily and/or brittle hair….

Honestly – most of those sound like a typical day to me. Even with our A/C set around 76, I’m usually curled up under a blanket and I freeze my poor husband out of bed with my ice toes. I have constant aches and pains in joints and muscles, my acne is out of control (seriously… I looked better when I was 15), I have a repetitive use injury called a ganglion cyst (not all of these cysts are repetitive use – mine is), my hair frequently looks unwashed, I’m tired all the time, and my BBT hangs out around 96.5. Even my regular temperature rarely reaches above 98.0. My PMS, my weight…. yup. All of it fits.

According to a number of sites, all of these symptoms point to poor adrenal and thyroid function. Based on a self-assessment using this chart, I’m pretty sure that I have adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism. I’m fortunate in that my symptoms are not severe. A doctor probably would tell me to get more rest and exercise a little. Of course, both of those things would be good for me, but I feel that something more is needed.

I’ve been doing a bit of homework, and according to Healing Naturally By Bee it is best to repair your adrenals before setting in on your thyroid. Often when we go through very stressful times, as I have, our adrenal glands go into overdrive. Then, you do horrible things, like start drinking three or four cups of coffee a day, binging on sugary or starchy foods and sleeping poorly, and things go from bad to worse.

All of our glands are interconnected, so I’ve also been having problems with my estrogen and progesterone levels. Since my cycle started again, I found that my PMS is worse than it had ever been. My emotions are erratic and extreme, and my cramping is terrible.

I’ve been supplementing my diet with a tisane (herbal tea) of red raspberry leave, alfalfa, nettles and mint; and an herbal capsule called “Beyond Vitex” which contains chasteberry (vitex), dong quai, wild yam and St. John’s wort, along with a nice little blend of other things. I’ve noticed a difference this month, but I think I could feel better still. Now that those hormones are getting back into balance, its time to start in on my adrenals.

Here are the things I’m going to put in place to help heal my fatigued adrenal glands. I suspect that once they are functioning properly, I’ll be able to successfully loose some weight, and I hope that I’ll be able to deal with my grief journey in a more godly manner. This is not a lifestyle diet, so I won’t be eating this way forever. Once I start seeing positive changes in my health, I will start adding things back into my diet, like fruits, properly prepared grains, natural sweeteners, and caffeine. After all, who can live without chocolate forever?

~ I will be eating a nutrient-dense diet that focuses on healthy meats and fats. I will be avoiding vegetable oils and “fake” fats in favor of butter from grassfed cows, full fat dairy products, lots of coconut oil and olive oil. I’ll also be avoiding processed foods.

~ I’ll be cutting out all caffeine, sadly including all tea except tisanes, all coffee (even decaf), all soda, and (gasp!) all chocolate.

~ I’m also saying goodbye to sugar, natural sweeteners, sugar substitutes, and fruit (except lemons and limes).

~ I will be avoiding foods that are high in carbohydrates or starches, like grains, beans, peas, root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, yams), corn, and the like.

~ I will (try try try) to eat liver twice a week. I’m considering making “liver pills” – freezing liver and then cutting it into small capsule sized pieces. Then I can just pop a few in my mouth and wash them down. If its organic, I won’t worry that its raw. The reason for liver is to get tons of B vitamins.

~ I’ll be working on consuming plenty of Vitamin C, particularly from broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, cabbage, lacto-fermented sauerkraut (like Bubbies, since I don’t make my own), parsley, lemons, Brussels sprouts, leafy greens, and red raspberry leaf tisane.

~ I need to try to get 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt every day. This isn’t your typical iodized salt. I like using “Real Salt” brand salt.

~ Very gentle exercise – mild walking, gentle yoga or rebounding. I don’t have a rebounder, so I will be focusing on walking and doing an AM/PM yoga routine by Giam. Remember, adrenal fatigue is caused by your adrenals pumping out so much adrenaline that they’ve worn themselves out. So hard-core exercise is off my menu for a while. Fortunately, that happens to be the way I like it.

~ As much sleep as I can get. I will try to be in bed by 10, and up around 7, which gives me 9 hours a night. Some sites have recommended as much as 12 hours a night and napping during the day. Naps are on the agenda for vacation in a few weeks.

~ Plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Hopefully my walking will give me the fresh air I need. Sunshine will provide me with great Vitamin D, but the best time of day to get it is the middle of the day. I’m considering taking lunch outside, but not until the temperatures drop back into the double digits.

~ I’m avoiding medications of any kind. Cortisone and epinephrine are particularly dangerous, but I will also be striking OTC medications like Advil.

~ Finally – here’s the tricky one – avoiding stress. Unfortunately, stress is part of every day life. Grief has made even the most minor situations difficult to bear. I can’t go lie down for a bit every time I feel stressed. Instead, I will be meditating on Psalm 107:1-2, particularly when I’m feeling stretched beyond my limits. Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those He has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the north and from the south, from the east and from the west.

I will also be striving to keep up with my quilting and my gardening, which I’ve found to be peacefully therapeutic. I’ll be watching the type of TV I watch and the books I read, to keep stress from those sources to a minimum. I’m working to find other stress-reducing techniques, such as meditation, journaling and keeping my home and schedule organized and tidy.

I hope you’ve found my tips to be helpful. Maybe you’ll consider joining me in my journey to adrenal health. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~Amanda

Please remember, I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. This is a self-diagnosis based on tools I’ve found online, and a list of restorative techniques I’ve compiled from around the internet. If you have a serious health problem, please see a doctor or naturopath, and as always, do your own homework. Whatever you choose to do for your health, please take the best care of yourself possible.

 

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14 thoughts on “Eating for Health: Adrenal Fatigue

  1. Hey. My dad and I both have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. So when I was diagnosed recently I did some research (symptoms etc.) and I think you’re on the right track. Especially since its the type of thing that runs in families, and you already have 2 Shines diagnosed. 🙂 I have not looked into much about adrenal glands but please let me know how you feel about this programs success. I am not having much success with thyroid horemone medications yet (it’s still early to tell) so in the future I might want to try it! 🙂

    • That’s good to know, Katye. I’m really anxious to avoid hormone medication just yet, which is why I’m headed toward the diet route for now. Explore the site Healing Naturally by Bee that I linked above. I didn’t dig into the thyroid stuff yet, because she advises working on adrenals first, but I know she has things on there for healing thyroid. Glad the info was helpful – I’ll certainly keep you updated!

      • I applaud you for trying to avoid medication :]. Unfortunately it’s already an every day fact of my life, so I just jumped right in with the meds. I’m pretty anxious to lose weight, so I’m hoping they help. Although my dose has already been upped once with no change so far. My dad has been on the hormones for quite a while I believe, and has had success with most of his symptoms…but has had to decrease his medication lately due to the fact that he was having heart palpitations from his levels being too high.

      • I always have terrible reactions to medication, but I know that there are definitely times when it is necessary to have them. I believe you need to do whatever is necessary to have the best health possible – I hope that the doctors find just the right dosage for you!

  2. Sounds very similar to the GAPS diet. We have my son on the diet for digestive problems, but the more I read the symptoms you posted, the more I started wondering about my own health… perhaps I will do some digging of my own!

    Praying that the Lord blesses you with better heath!

    • There are a lot of things that are similar to GAPS, which I only have a cursory knowledge of, but I’m certain can cure many things. I hope you find things that will help you feel your best!

  3. Pingback: Eating for Health: Adrenal Fatigue « Echoing Footsteps | Adrenal Diet Weight Loss

  4. Amanda, I always think a natural alternative for a health issue is a great place to start. Perhaps you’ve already seen the article but for anyone interested there is a good article on bone broth and adrenal health at nourished kitchen. From what little reading I’ve been doing I’m seeing some recommendations for a cup of bone broth to accompany each meal. The article is a good one and hopefully will give anyone searching for help with adrenal health or digestive issues one more weapon in their arsenal!

  5. I would be really cautious about cutting out carbs for adrenal fatigue. Low-carb has been specifically associated with running down the adrenals. It “juices” them at first so you feel better, but then it totally wears them down, leaving you ultimately in even worse shape. You may want to look at Matt Stone’s 180degreeHealth site for more info on this, or Anne Marie’s CheeseSlave blog.

    • Amy, thanks for your thoughts. I did see the articles on Anne Marie’s blog about low carb. I’m approaching this diet more as a fast or detox rather than a lifestyle diet. I’m intending to only remain with this particular plan for a month or so, and then slowly add back in higher carb vegetables; simple, natural sugars; and some properly prepared grains. I would agree wholeheartedly that carbohydrates are part of a nutritional diet, but I also think there is some logic behind eliminating adrenal stressors such as caffeine, sugar and carbs, for a short period of time.

  6. Pingback: A Month in Review: July « Echoing Footsteps

    • Hi, Claudia – this is an interesting thing you ask. After writing this post, I did indeed put my plan into action and start feeling much better. I was able to have another baby with a perfectly normal, healthy pregnancy. It is interesting that after my second pregnancy I had similar symptoms and challenges and instead of addressing it through food and supplements I went to a doctor. I did begin feeling better, but I’m still struggling with symptoms 30 months postpartum. I’m now working to get myself off my medications and returning to a healthier diet, hopefully with similar results.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

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