This awesome post was written by Alina Islam, a wonderful Certified Nutritional Practitioner from Toronto, Canada. She is a writer, speaker and nutritional consultant. You can read more of her work at AlinaIslam.com or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
If you’ve clicked on this article, then you’re probably already familiar with the term adrenal fatigue, as it’s been gaining more and more attention in the online sphere lately. What most people do when they figure out they have adrenal fatigue is start taking an adaptogen, either in supplement form or as an herbal tincture or tea. They may also start to take out more time to meditate, and actively reduce activities that cause stress.
And these are both fantastic starting points. But what a lot of people don’t understand (and rightly so, because our traditional education system doesn’t teach this in school, nor is it taught to doctors) is that addressing our blood sugar balance is a crucial first step that needs to be taken.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Allow me to first explain the pathology behind this in as simple terms as possible. The adrenal glands make a number of hormones, one of which is known as cortisol (the stress hormone). When someone is in a state of chronic stress, cortisol is being constantly secreted. One of the roles of cortisol is to pump out glucose to supply the body with enough energy to cope during the time of stress.
Of course, over time the adrenals become exhausted and worn out from pumping out cortisol all the time, which inevitably leads to low cortisol production. So if you’re stressed out and not making enough cortisol, how are you going to get your glucose? Perhaps reach for a muffin or granola bar to get a quick fix? Ding ding! We have a winner.
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Now this is where the vicious cycle beings, and pay close attention to this explanation.
If you have low adrenal function, you will make low cortisol and will not pump out enough glucose, which will cause you to reach for a sugary snack. A high influx of sugar (whether natural or synthetic) will trigger insulin release, in order to get glucose into the cells. If this cycle is repeated often enough, your cells will become insulin resistant, which means they get tired of insulin incessantly knocking at the door to be let in. The cells learn to ignore insulin’s cries to get into the cells.
So where does that leave your body? Your cells are now insulin resistant, and won’t allow insulin to come in and give them glucose. So your body turns to cortisol for help, but cortisol is already worn out and exhausted. It pushes even harder, but it’s not enough. Guess what happens next? Your brain tells you to pick up another muffin because it’s not getting the glucose it needs.
It’s like a never-ending roller coaster, and so many people are trapped and just want to get off!
If this sounds like you, all hope is not lost. The key to getting back your adrenal health has to begin with balancing your blood sugar levels at every meal to slowly reverse your insulin resistance and give your adrenals a break.
The Adrenal Fatigue Diet
Here’s what you can do to balance your blood sugar levels:
- Each a low-glycemic diet. This includes avoiding high sugar fruits (dates, bananas), refined carbs (white pasta, white rice, sliced bread, cookies, muffins, bagels, donuts), fruit juice and pop.
- Ensure each meal has adequate protein, fat, and fibre. All three of these nutrients ensure slower release of glucose into your bloodstream.
- Consume a Tbsp. of flax oil or coconut oil at each meal. Adding a good fat will slow down the release of glucose into your bloodstream.
- Avoid refined sugar found in candy, chocolate, granola bars etc.
- Cut back or avoid coffee. Caffeine exhausts the adrenal glands and further exacerbates the problem.
This has to be the first step. Period. Reducing simple carbs and sugar, while increasing fibre, protein and fat will slowly begin to return you to a less “hangry” state of mind. This is when your stress management techniques and supplementation will be able to work more effectively!
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