Our adrenal glands produce hormones that help balance blood sugar levels, manage our energy levels, and help us handle stress. If a person is under constant physical or emotional stress, their adrenals may become weak and unable to produce adequate amounts of critical hormones, especially a hormone called cortisol. This creates an illness commonly known as adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue is characterized by a variety of symptoms but namely anxiety, chronic fatigue, and nervousness. Learn more about adrenal fatigue and its symptoms.

When suffering from a condition such as adrenal fatigue, it is important to nourish your body with the foods you eat and avoid foods that could worsen the problem. Below are some of the best foods to eat with adrenal fatigue as well as those that should be avoided:

Beneficial Foods:

Lean Meats

Lean meats such as organic turkey, chicken thighs, flank steaks, and more are beneficial to the health of the adrenals as they are loaded with protein and essential nutrients. Organic meats contain vitamin B12, zinc, vitamin D, and other nutrients that are essential for your body to properly manage stress. Additionally, turkey contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps elicit a calm feeling because it is a precursor to serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone.


The health benefits of oysters are forgotten far too often. They are packed with zinc and copper, which promote the proper function of neurotransmitters. Therefore, oysters can help you adapt to stress more easily and can make you less prone to anxiety, both of which are problems for those suffering from adrenal fatigue.

Leafy Greens

When combatting adrenal fatigue, leafy greens are essential. This is because vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens are packed with magnesium. Magnesium is essential for a variety of bodily functions but is particularly necessary for stress management. If you are suffering from adrenal fatigue and are experiencing sleep problems, you may be deficient in this vital mineral.


Healthy fats are another critical component to an adrenal fatigue diet and there is no better food for healthy fats than avocados. This superfood contains healthy amounts of fat and cholesterol, which help the body produce hormones. It’s a common myth that a low-fat diet will help solve hormonal issues, however, this is not the case. Monounsaturated fats such as the ones in avocados help the body detox, digest food (digestive issues are common with adrenal fatigue), and much more.

Sea Salt

Salt is another food that gets a bad reputation, however, it is a great addition to your diet if you have adrenal fatigue. Salt helps balance the body’s electrolytes and resolve any imbalances. Many people with adrenal dysfunction suffer from an electrolyte imbalance due to a hormonal deficiency in aldosterone, making salt a necessary part of the adrenal fatigue diet.

Bowl of avocado and leafy greens

Foods to Avoid:

  • Added or refined sugar: Sugar can cause inflammation which exacerbates adrenal fatigue symptoms and takes a toll on all bodily symptoms.
  • White flour: Because white flour is quickly converted to sugar in the body, it can elicit similar symptoms to added and refined sugar.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine is known for causing an increase in anxiety and nerves. Due to the fact it causes an increase in cortisol production, it should be avoided by anyone with adrenal dysfunction.
  • Alcohol: Similar to caffeine, alcohol can lead to a spike in cortisol and for exhausted adrenal glands, this will further strain the system.
  • Gluten-containing grains: Because gluten can affect the gut lining and cause chronic inflammation, it can put stress on multiple bodily systems. Thus, it should be avoided by anyone suffering from chronic stress and adrenal dysfunction.

Treating Adrenal Fatigue

Although diet is a good place to start, adrenal fatigue is a serious health condition that should be treated with more than just dietary adjustments. Because the symptoms of adrenal dysfunction progress slowly, they are often ignored until a stressful event like an illness or accident causes them to worsen. Sudden, severe worsening of symptoms is called an Addisonian crisis, or acute adrenal insufficiency. Additionally, the stress caused by hormone imbalance, like in perimenopause and menopause for women, is a huge contributor to adrenal fatigue.

Proper treatment for adrenal dysfunction can have profound effects. Bioidentical hormone therapy balances your hormones, including the hormones released during stress, with customized prescriptions that fit your body chemistry can greatly improve your quality of life.

If you are suffering from adrenal dysfunction and feel you are not getting the help you need, contact Holtorf Medical Group today.

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