If your adrenal health is suffering, one of the first things you’ll want to consider is what you’re eating—as well as what you’re not eating. Adrenal health can be majorly improved with the help of a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.
Before we explore exactly what to eat for adrenal health, though, let’s take a look at some of the key details of adrenal health.
What are the adrenals?
Before we start, it’s important to know what the adrenals are to begin with. Your adrenal glands are located on top of your kidneys. They’re only about three inches long, but they pack a major punch when it comes to the regular functioning of your body.
The adrenals consist of two parts, the cortex and the medulla, and each part creates different hormones. The hormones produced by the adrenals, including cortisol, aldosterone, adrenaline, and sex hormones, play a part in regulating your immune system, metabolism, blood pressure, pregnancy, stress management, and other key systems. You have your adrenals to thank for a major part of the fight-or-flight response you feel when under stress.
What are some common adrenal related health issues?
The adrenal glands can develop issues within themselves, but they can also be impacted by the issues of other glands in the body. Adrenal gland issues can be caused by genetic issues, infections, tumors, and the impact of certain medications. Below are some of the most common adrenal health issues you might experience.
Also known as adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s disease is caused by the adrenals not creating enough cortisol or aldosterone.
Cushing’s syndrome occurs when the adrenals produce too much cortisol.
Nodules on the adrenals can cause the glands to create too many hormones. The nodes can be either benign or cancerous.
Adrenal fatigue is believed to occur when excessive amounts of stress over a long period of time exhausts your adrenals. This can cause your cortisol to dip and can lead to frustrating symptoms like low energy, lightheaded feelings, and depression. Medical professionals have disagreed over many aspects of adrenal fatigue, but these symptoms can be very real and very troubling.
Symptoms Of Adrenal Issues
Many symptoms of disorders or issues within the adrenal glands are non-specific can easily be confused for symptoms of other health issues, so it’s important to pay close attention.
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Noticeable increase or decrease in body hair
- Stomach pain
- Salt cravings
- Low blood pressure or high blood pressure
- Changes in mood or crankiness
- Heart palpitations
7 Foods To Eat For Adrenal Health
Stock your kitchen with the foods and ingredients below for better health.
Chard, spinach, asparagus, kale, and other greens are your adrenals’ best friends. When you regularly eat your greens, you’ll get lots of magnesium, which can help calm you and boost your adrenal health. If you already enjoy a steady source of greens, expand your vegetable intake even further. They’re great for evening out your blood sugar and decreasing inflammation.
2. Healthy Fats
Coconut oil and avocado are both great ways to implement more healthy fats into your diet. Avocado has lots of vitamin B and potassium as well, and coconut oil is great for brain function.
3. Rooibos Tea
Rooibos, a unique type of delicious red tea, can help manage cortisol levels.
4. Clarified Butter
Also known as ghee, clarified butter has cholesterol your adrenals need.
The tryptophan in turkey can help you feel more relaxed and better equipped to manage anxiety, which can help reduce your likelihood of experiencing adrenal fatigue.
6. Organ Meats
Liver and other organ meats are rich in energizing nutrients. Your adrenals will benefit from their wealth of vitamin D, zinc, vitamin B, and choline. (Make sure you’re eating organic, grass-fed meat.)
7. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Decreasing inflammation is a great way to give your adrenal glands a leg up. Anti-inflammatory foods like wild-caught salmon, pineapple, green tea, ginger, turmeric, beets, and others can decrease joint pain, irritation, sinus issues, and other inflammation-related problems.
7 Foods To Avoid For Adrenal Health
Do your best to keep the below foods and ingredients to a minimum.
Sugar can drain the adrenals, increase inflammation, and lead to an unhealthy gut. They’re also not great for your blood sugar and insulin levels, and they can tire out the adrenals. It can be tough at first to avoid added sugars because they’re in foods you may not even expect, but simply being aware is already a great start. Keep an eye out for added sugar in your meals, and trim your sugar intake whenever you can.
Soy can block your body’s absorption of iodine, which can lead to many hormonal issues. Soy also acts very similarly to estrogen in the body, which then competes with our real estrogen. This can create all kinds of frustrating symptoms, like dips in mood and changes in metabolism.
Alcohol can cause your blood sugar levels to spiral, and can make your adrenal glands work in overdrive. It’s worth avoiding it as much as possible.
If you have an undetected sensitivity to gluten, it’s tiring out your adrenals. Gluten is in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. Difficult reactions to gluten generally cause inflammation, which means more work for the adrenal glands. Try cutting gluten out of your diet for a few months (consult a medical professional if you need tips on doing so in a healthy way) and take note of whether your symptoms change. If they improve, it’s a sign that you might have some level of sensitivity to gluten — but the good news is that you’ll have cut out the culprit!
Adrenal fatigue is believed to intensify food sensitivities, so if you have a dairy allergy, you may be experiencing the symptoms on a more painful level than usual.
Coffee may be enticing, but too much caffeine can mess with your sleep cycle and increase anxiety. Both make it that much tougher to get your adrenals back on track. Since you might be experiencing fatigue as a result of adrenal health issues, it’s easy to see why a few extra cups of coffee could be tempting—but it will likely do more harm in the long run.
7. Foods Made With White Flour
White breads, crackers, white rice, and other heavily processed white foods act similarly to sugar in your system.
Other Ways To Heal Your Adrenals
If you’re experiencing adrenal fatigue symptoms or another adrenal issue, there are other natural methods beyond your diet that could help you see improvement. Changes that lead to an overall healthier lifestyle are generally also beneficial for your adrenal health. Take a good, hard look at your routines and see what you can do to take care of yourself.
It can seem tough at first to put your health above everyday obligations like work, but the reality is that your health is integral to your success in other areas of your life. Examine your sleep habits and see if you can get about eight hours per night, sleeping and waking at the same time each day.
Make sure you’re getting sufficient exercise, and look for a type of workout that you genuinely enjoy so you’ll feel motivated to keep going. If you smoke, consider quitting. You may also want to speak with a counselor to help work through any major stressors in your life. Some adrenal gland disorders can be treated with the help of medication, and if your situation applies, your doctor can help you find what works best for you.
Health Begins In The Kitchen
Taking note of what you eat is one of the best ways to take your adrenal gland health into your own hands. The act of making changes that benefit your wellbeing can feel incredibly empowering—and fresh, healthy food tastes so great that soon you won’t imagine eating any other way. If your adrenals are causing you to suffer, don’t despair. Your body is an incredible machine, and all it needs is a little nudge to start working in your favor again.
So stock up your grocery cart and get cooking!