Adrenal fatigue, a condition that exists when the body’s adrenal glands become fatigued or exhausted because of too much ongoing stress, requires a multifaceted recovery approach. This includes sleep and rest, relaxation and other lifestyle changes. One of the key healing components is nutrition, and people on the road to recovery from adrenal fatigue must adhere to certain diet principles. The Paleo diet can be a good match for adrenal fatigue recovery, because it emphasizes the key nutritional components that must be in place for healing to happen.
Adrenal Gland Challenges
In the human body, the adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys. When they become overly stressed, adrenal fatigue can result. Symptoms include severe fatigue, especially in the morning, difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation, depression and intolerance to stress. In his book "Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome," James L. Wilson, N.D., D.C., Ph.D. thoroughly discusses the nutrition that is required for adrenal fatigue healing. He recommends that people with adrenal fatigue consume a diet containing plenty of quality protein, fat and low-glycemic foods such as vegetables, while avoiding sugars and allergenic foods.
The Paleo diet harkens back to the eating routine that people followed up until the Agricultural Revolution. It is packed with beneficial nutrients, such as fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 fats. Successful recovery from adrenal fatigue requires high amounts of nutrients from food because the body has become so depleted and needs those nutrients to heal. The Paleo diet is quite similar to diets known by other names, such as the Hunter-Gatherer and Caveman diets. "Paleo" and "Primal" are often used interchangeably to refer to the same type of diet.
The Paleo diet includes quality protein, such as lean meats and seafood, and high-quality fats, such as those in wild fish. It also includes large quantities of fresh vegetables and fruits, which are abundant in healing nutrients. Low-glycemic foods are preferable for adrenal recovery, and the Paleo diet’s emphasis on these types of vegetables is helpful. The healthy foods that the Paleo diet emphasizes can provide relief from the constant fatigue and lethargy that are hallmarks of adrenal fatigue.
When adhering to the Paleo diet, you avoid certain foods that can be harmful to people with adrenal fatigue, such as sugars, high-glycemic carbohydrates and processed foods. The Paleo diet does not include grains, and because many with adrenal fatigue cannot tolerate certain grains, especially gluten, this aspect of the diet can be highly beneficial to a successful recovery. Because any type of stress, including stress creating when you consume foods to which you are allergic, contributes to and worsens adrenal fatigue, the fact that the Paleo diet does not include certain commonly allergenic foods like gluten and dairy is highly beneficial.
It can take months or years to recover from adrenal fatigue, depending on various factors, including the adrenal fatigue severity. Thus, the length of time to adhere to the Paleo diet can vary, but it can be beneficial to stick with Paleo eating permanently. This is because once you have had adrenal fatigue, you could be more susceptible to straining your adrenals again in the future, so after recovery, sticking with proactive nutritional habits is best.
- “The Primal Blueprint”; Mark Sisson; 2009
- Mark’s Daily Apple: The Definitive Guide to Stress, Cortisol, and the Adrenals: When ‘Fight or Flight’ Meets the Modern World
- “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome”; James L. Wilson, N.D., D.C., Ph.D.; 2001