“There is no such thing as a stress-free life. No evidence has ever been presented which suggests that a stress-free life can ever be achieved. Stress can be managed, relieved and lessened, but never eliminated.” – Gudjon Bergmann, Author & Musician
The feeling of stress can be debilitating depending on how we handle it, however it’s sadly unavoidable. But, while we may hate the uncomfortable side effects that it brings, experiencing stress is sometimes seen as a good thing because it forces us to become more motivated. Some people may even say that they work better under pressure. However, too much stress can do some serious damage to one’s health. Stress is normally based on how someone analyzes a certain situation. If the brain deems it as overwhelming, it sends a message to the adrenal glands to release more cortisol and adrenaline, which will enhance the person’s senses and put them in survival mode. This is called a “fight-or-flight” response, and it occurs when a person feels threatened, nervous, or under pressure.
The adrenal glands are located atop of the kidneys and are meant to produce hormones, handle stress response, regulate metabolism and control immunity. When the brain analyzes a stressful situation, this activates the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and the adrenals are hard at work producing cortisol to handle it. If this happens periodically, it is not a cause for concern. If this happens chronically, this can cause the adrenals to burn out, thus depleting cortisol and DHEA production and leading to hormonal imbalances. Eventually, one may experience symptoms of exhaustion, weakness, body pain and poor sleep quality. This is called adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue develops over long periods of stress exposure, thus causing one to feel chronically tired due to low cortisol levels. Additionally, the condition can also be induced by inflammation, environmental toxicity, and infection, however one of the best ways to avoiding it is to limit the stressors that the brain faces and handle them accordingly. One of the best ways to do this is to carefully watch the foods that one consumes, however sometimes this is difficult when reactions to stress cause us to either overeat (called stress eating) or not eat at all. At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we educate patients about certain foods that can help relieve stress. Listed below are a few food items to help patients handle stressors to take the strain off of the adrenal glands.
Fish: Certain fish species such as tuna, mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, and salmon contain antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids to help ease anxiety and depression. Furthermore, these fish will help the body’s ability to produce DHEA hormones to help stress levels become more regulated. Studies show that proteins within omega 3 fatty acids in fish reduced anxiety symptoms in a sample of 1,200 people. Harvard Health Publishing explains that “omega 3 fatty acids induce various behavioral and psychiatric disorders” and it’s highly recommended for treating anxiety ¹.
Herbal Tea: Herbs have been used for therapeutic purposes since The Middle Ages, and even today they still provide some amazing health benefits. Herbal teas contain properties that help regulate blood pressure, improve sleep quality and combat anxiety. As a matter of fact, some practitioners may even suggest herbal teas over antidepressants or other medications that can damage neurotransmitters and hormones. Some recommended herbs that are beneficial for the adrenals include:
- Green Tea
- Ginger Tea
- Licorice Tea
- Chamomile Tea
Eggs: Those with adrenal fatigue or chronic stress sometimes don’t realize that they’re protein malnourished. Sadly, some of the meat that is sold in grocery stores are rich with chemicals and toxins. However, eggs (especially organic ones) are a good source of protein. Eggs contain an amino acid called tryptophan that creates serotonin to regulate mood, memory, sleep and anxiety. Additionally, the yolk of the egg is a great source of vitamin D.
Foods/Ingredients to Avoid with Adrenal Fatigue
Those suffering from symptoms of adrenal fatigue should avoid these foods:
Sugar: People often eat sugar to feel the high of something called a “sugar rush”, which is defined as a sudden burst of brief energy followed by drowsiness and exhaustion. In reality, this negatively impacts the body. Excessive consumption of sugar can contribute to a diminished level of critical hormonal production such as cortisol and estrogen. As a result, one’s (already worn out) adrenal glands will be inhibited from a possibility of recovery or returning to a normalized hormone balance.
Dairy: Most dairy products sold in stores are chemically treated to keep them preserved. Additionally, some people are sensitive to dairy products which can cause inflammation in the system. Whether one is allergic or not, those with adrenal fatigue will find it best to eliminate it from their diet to prevent risks of possible toxicity buildup, which can worsen the fatigue.
Caffeine: A chemical that is known for providing energy boosts may not be the right substance for those with destroyed adrenal glands or chronic stress. Interestingly, “reliance on coffee” is actually considered a symptom of adrenal fatigue. However if we keep relying on it to substitute the jobs of our cortisol, our adrenal fatigue symptoms will worsen and we’ll have an even larger hormone imbalance.
Talk to a LifeWorks Practitioner for the Best Diet Recommendation
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, those with adrenal fatigue are often recommended the paleo diet; an all-natural diet that resembles the foods that were eaten during the Paleolithic era. This diet contains food items with anti-inflammatory properties and eliminates all food toxins such as pesticides and artificial flavors that can irritate the immune system. Many of these food items are useful for combatting stress to prevent adrenal fatigue. However, patients should consult a LifeWorks practitioner to discuss any allergies, medications or other serious conditions such as pregnancy.
If you or someone that you know are suffering from adrenal fatigue and seeking treatment options, please call to schedule an appointment with one of our practitioners at 727-466-6789.