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Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue

Many of us feel tired and exhausted every day, and the majority of us believe that we are just overworked or need a holiday. The truth is you could be suffering from adrenal fatigue. Having suffered from Adrenal Fatigue after the birth of my first child I am acutely aware of the debilitating effect it can have on your life. Unfortunately because conventional medicine does not yet recognise the syndrome I was at the ‘exhaustion’ stage before I finally received a definitive diagnosis from an integrative medical practitioner through both in-depth consultation and the use of a salivary test for adrenal hormones.

So what exactly is Adrenal fatigue?
 It is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. Most commonly associated with:
◦ intense, repeated or prolonged stress (e.g. bad relationships, stressful jobs, poverty, imprisonment)
◦ during or after acute or chronic infections (especially respiratory infections such as flu, bronchitis or pneumonia)
◦ during an emotional crisis such as the death of a loved one, a life crisis, or a continuing difficult situation;
◦ during a physical crisis such as major surgery; an illness;
◦ lifestyles factors such as poor diet, substance abuse, too little sleep and rest,
◦ maternal adrenal fatigue during gestation.

As the name suggests, its paramount symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep. You may look and act relatively normal with adrenal fatigue and may not have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet you live with a general sense of unwellness, tiredness or “gray” feelings. People experiencing adrenal fatigue often have to use coffee, fizzy drinks and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day.

Adrenal fatigue can wreak havoc with your life and certainly did on mine. In the end my adrenal glands were so diminished that I had difficulty getting through my working day and had to make the tough decision to take time out to recover. As adrenal function declines, every organ and system in your body is more profoundly affected. Changes occur in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive.

You may be experiencing adrenal fatigue if you are feeling tired most of the day and regularly notice one or more of the following:

You feel tired for no reason
You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour
You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed
You have difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness
You crave salty and sweet snacks
You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day

Additional symptoms include:
  weight gain (especially around the middle) that you cannot seem to lose
◦ often coming down with the flu or other respiratory infections
◦ upper 
back pain
neck pain
◦ lack of or reduced sex drive
◦ dizzy upon rising
◦ hard to wake up in the morning
◦ need that cup of coffee in the morning to get going
◦ less energy in the morning and late afternoon
◦ feel a bit better after eating
◦ the tendency to tremble or shake when stressed
◦ lack of energy
◦ somewhat depressed or anxious
◦ taking more effort to perform daily chores
◦ poor memory and or brain fog
◦ thin skin
◦ dry skin
◦ low body temperature
◦ palpitations
◦ nervousness
◦ alternating diarrhea and constipation

Of course, even if you have all of these symptoms you may not have adrenal fatigue but if you suspect that you have I would advise you to take a saliva test for adrenal hormones.  

Once you have the results you will be able to treat the symptoms and your stress, which is often the most prominent cause of adrenal fatigue. You can enjoy all natural products to help you recover from adrenal fatigue too and the most popular treatment begins with a lifestyle change, which should include eating balanced meals, proper supplementation, reducing stress, gentle exercise and adequate sleep. With proper care most people experiencing adrenal fatigue can expect to feel good again.  

Having battled with Adrenal Fatigue I know the importance of having a proper treatment plan and support structure in place to ensure a speedy recovery and work closely with clients with adrenal fatigue from both a nutrition and relaxation standpoint to ensure they reach their health goals.

Food Recommendations for Adrenal Fatigue
Even in the best of times, you need food to survive and be healthy. Adrenal fatigue is definitely not the best of times, so the food choices you make become even more important to your health. When your adrenals respond to stress your cell metabolism speeds up, burning many times the number of nutrients normally needed. With adrenal fatigue, the cells have used up much of the body’s stored nutrients, creating a nutritional void. Good quality food (organic when possible) is the best source for replenishing these nutrients.  

The Connection between Adrenal Fatigue and Low Blood Sugar

If you have adrenal fatigue, when you eat is almost as important as what you eat. By eating the right combination of natural, high quality food at frequent, regular intervals, you can help avoid low blood sugar and make a difference in your adrenal health and energy levels.

When to Eat 

 One of the major dietary mistakes made by people with adrenal fatigue is not eating soon enough after waking. If you have adrenal fatigue, it is very important that you eat before 10:00am. This is vital in helping to replenish the waning stored blood sugar supply after the previous night’s energy needs.

An early lunch, preferably before noon, is better than a late lunch because your body quickly uses up the morning nourishment and is ready for more. Between 11 and 11:30 am is usually the best time for lunch. You should also eat a nutritious snack between 2 and 3pm to sustain yourself for the cortisol dip that typically occurs between 3 and 4pm. Your evening meal should be eaten between 5 and 6pm.

A few bites of a high quality snack before bed can help get through sleep disturbances. 

What to Eat and Drink

If you are experiencing adrenal fatigue, you will do best combining fat, protein and complex carbohydrates (like whole grains) at every meal and snack. This combination helps provide a steady stream of energy throughout the day. It is important to remember that foods that are converted too quickly into energy (like sugary snacks or highly processed foods) will quickly let you down


 In most cases of adrenal fatigue, salt (in moderation) benefits those who add it to their diet. Unless you are one of the rare people with adrenal fatigue and high blood pressure, add some salt to your food. A sea salt or Celtic salt is preferred, as these are the kinds containing the valuable nutrients. Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are actually caused by your body’s needs for salt.



 Good quality protein from meat, fish, fowl, eggs, dairy and various plant sources (soy and other legumes, nuts and seeds) is an essential part of any adrenal fatigue diet. Try to avoid processed proteins such as packaged lunch meats and processed cheeses. Proteins generally have more nutritional value and are easier to digest when eaten lightly cooked or raw.



 Every day, you should include 6-8 servings of a wide variety of vegetables in your meals, especially those that are naturally highly coloured (bright green, red, orange, yellow or purple). Vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and a high amount of fibre.


Adrenal Recovery Soup
The following vegetable soup recipe has proved helpful in adrenal support. It is rich in minerals and alkalinizing to help balance the acidity that usually occurs in people experiencing adrenal fatigue and stress. It has a calming, settling effect.

·         16 oz. green beans

·         1 cup chopped celery

·         1 zucchini, sliced

·         1 medium onion, chopped

·         1 cup tomato juice

·         1 cup spring water

·         2 tbsp. raw honey

·         1 tsp. paprika

·         1 cup chicken broth

Combine ingredients and simmer for one hour until vegetables are tender. Pepper to taste.

People with adrenal fatigue and blood sugar problems should go lightly on fruits, especially in the morning. Fruits contain a significant amount of fructose and potassium, which is a detrimental combination for those with exhausted adrenals. However, it is preferable that any fruit that you do eat is organically grown. Below is a short list of fruits people with adrenal fatigue tend to do well with, and ones they should avoid.

Preferred Fruits

Fruits to Avoid













grapes (only a few)




Summary of What to Eat 
Here are 9 easy rules to follow:

1.       Eat a wide variety of whole, natural foods

2.       Combine a healthy fat, protein and carbohydrate source with every meal

3.       Eat lots of vegetables, especially the brightly coloured ones

4.       Salt your food to a pleasant taste

5.       Eat mainly whole grains as your source of carbohydrate

6.       Combine grains with legumes (beans), or legumes with seeds or nuts to form a complete protein

7.       Avoid fruit in the morning

8.       Mix 1-2 tablespoons of fresh essential oils (cold pressed olive, grape seed, safflower, flax, etc.) into grains, vegetables and meats daily

9.       Eat high quality food; it becomes you.

By following these simple guidelines, your food intake can help support your adrenals and prevent low blood sugar. 

Managing Stress with Adrenal Fatigue:
During these stressful times it is vitally important that you look after your health. Stress intensifies the demands on your body – nutrients are used up faster than they can be replaced by food, toxic by-products rapidly build up, and every organ and gland (including your brain) is asked to work harder. During stress your body is in a race, and to finish the race in good shape it is essential to pay attention to what your body needs and to step up your level of self care.

Follow the D E – S T R E S S guidelines below for protecting your health from stress and you will notice a real difference in how you feel and function.

◦ Define who and what are important in your life and Decide to live accordingly. 

◦ Energize yourself with foods that nourish, and Exercise to increase circulation, optimize function and eliminate toxins.

◦ Support your body with dietary Supplements designed specifically to help compensate for the effects of stress on your body and supply nutrients used up during stress.

◦ Take Time to breathe deeply and fully, to find a moment of calm, and to enjoy something each day.

◦ Reframe events that stress you in order to Release yourself from paralysis so you can discover what you can do, and how you can benefit from these events or turn them to your advantage.

◦ Eliminate energy robbers and health drains, and Establish clear boundaries.

◦ Sleep to give your body a chance to recharge and heal, and your mind a few moments of Silent Solace each day so you are refreshed and ready to take effective action.

◦ Smile and See the Soul-fullness in your life.  The physical action changes how you feel inside, which changes how you behave and how your body reacts.

Recommended Reading:
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, written by Dr. James L Wilson

Nicole Walsh is a certified Holistic Nutritionist and Dietician and a Reiki & Seichem Master & Teacher.
Nicole is available for consultations at River Holistic Centre on Wednesday’s and Friday’s 9.30am-14.30pm and Thursdays 9.30am-10pm.
To book a consultation call 086 4029405 or e-mail nicole@a-nu.me.
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