- Low energy, feeling run down, and fatigued
- Weight gain
- Body aches
- Trouble falling asleep
- Digestive problems
- Brain fog
- Cravings for salt and sugar
Are you relying too heavily on coffee, energy drinks, sodas, chocolate, or other sugary carbohydrates to give you an energy boost each morning or throughout the day? If you answered “yes” to the above questions, then you might have exhausted your adrenals to the point of fatigue.
So, what are the adrenals? The adrenals or adrenal glands, are caplike structures that sit on top of our kidneys. They are commonly referred to as our “fight or flight” organs, and their main function is to regulate our body’s synthesis and release of cortisol and adrenaline. Our cortisol levels are affected by 1) what and when we eat and 2) stress. Stress can come from both external and internal sources, such as consumption of the standard American diet heightened with processed sugars, salts, caffeine, alcohol, etc. Stress can also stem from emotional and physical issues, such as unhealthy relationships, illnesses, lack of exercise, work, etc. We all experience some form of stress in our life, but when our stressors become too great, the adrenal glands can become exhausted or fatigued, which then leads to weight gain.
So, how are fatigued adrenal glands responsible for weight gain? Stress along with what and when we eat influence our cortisol levels, causing a rise or a fall. Too much stress increases our body’s production of cortisol. This exhausts the adrenal glands, causing them to pump out so much cortisol that, eventually, they become depleted. Cortisol is additionally released to manage our blood sugar levels. Thus, it is very important that we avoid excess sugar and carbohydrates, and eat regularly throughout the day. High cortisol levels contribute to stubborn weight gain, and when cortisol is out of control, digestion shuts down!
Although everyone’s body is different, there are several foods that are best to avoid if you want to put an end to your adrenal fatigue and weight gain (oh, and surprise, surprise… this list is what Greenlite has suggested you avoid as well!) :
Caffeine directly stresses the adrenals and causes the production of more cortisol! It gives us that energy “high” we crave, but why do we crave it? If you are using caffeine to wake you up in the morning or keep you awake throughout the day, that is a problem. These are functions your body should be able to handle naturally – and if it cannot, then you might have some form of adrenal dysfunction.
Sugar, sugar, sugar…no bueno!
Like caffeine, sugar is another substance that offers a “fake” energy boost but, ultimately, undermines hormonal imbalance. This is particularly true of refined and processed forms of sugar. White sugar, for example, is basically devoid of nutritional value. Foods that are converted to energy very quickly (like sugary snacks and processed foods) will quickly let you down.
Alcohol, too, raises cortisol. And, the effects are lasting – up to twentyfour hours in men and usually longer in women.
High Glycemic Index (GI) Foods
Simple carbohydrates produce excessive amounts of insulin, which the body interprets as a stress response – even when there is no external stressor in sight! So, guess what happens? The adrenals release more cortisol! When this happens over and over and over again, your adrenals become fatigued. Skip the empty calories of junk food, vending machines, fast food restaurants, and processed foods. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates over the simple ones, and your body will love you for it!