All of us struggle with anxiety from time to time. But when stressful days turn into weeks, and those weeks turn into worn-out months, you may wonder if what you're actually experiencing is adrenal fatigue.
The theory behind the hotly debated condition goes something like this: When your body is in a state of constant, chronic stress, your adrenal glands become less effective at producing cortisol, the stress hormone that has multiple functions, from regulating blood pressure to decreasing inflammation. The result? Ambiguous but concerning symptoms that may include unexplained hair loss, body aches, and extreme exhaustion.
It's important to note that this condition is not officially recognized by the majority of conventional medical practitioners, who point to a lack of scientific evidence to support the diagnosis. Many are also concerned that attempts to treat the unproven condition may prevent individuals from properly addressing a deeper underlying health issue.
If you're concerned about any of the symptoms we mentioned earlier and/or are considering taking medications or supplements to address them, step one would be to talk to a health professional.
But regardless of whether you believe in adrenal fatigue, you can start feeling better by simply eating the right foods! Focus on incorporating more whole, real ingredients and cutting out the extra salt and added sugars. These 19 recipes are chock-full of gut-healthy probiotics, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains, all of which can help take you from exhausted to energized.
Despite all the attention low carb diets get, resistant starches, like plantains that lower blood sugar and balance insulin, are actually key for adrenal health. Enjoy them in this hash, where, paired with sausage and topped with a zesty herb sauce, they won’t taste any different from regular potatoes.
Quality protein is a must when you’re trying to get your adrenal health under control; while the usual go-tos like fish, eggs, and are no-no’s for vegans, never underestimate the power of beans. Here, chickpeas and fresh herbs make for quick and flavorful plant-based breakfast. The pinch of turmeric not only adds some extra anti-inflammatory power but also brightens up the entire bowl.
Shredded apples and coconut sugar give this high-fiber breakfast quinoa the perfect touch of sweetness, while pecans provide that essential healthy fat to keep you energized through the morning. It doesn't hurt that the recipe tastes like pie too.
Gluten is on the “avoid” list for adrenal fatigue diets, but pancakes should always be allowed. Just substitute regular wheat flour with teff—a gluten-free African grain you’ll spot at any gluten-free aisle or health food store—and you can still enjoy your short stacks on weekend mornings.
Swap out your morning oats a few times a week in favor of this equally fiber-rich but more colorful and vitamin-dense bowl. Roasting the sweet potatoes gives them that delicious caramelization without added sugar, while nut butter gives them plenty of richness. Top with more nuts, fruit, or even a dollop of yogurt for extra nutrition.
Proponents of adrenal fatigue believe it has direct links to the state of your gut—but you know what? Even non-believers should keep their gut healthy with “good” bacteria. While there are pills for that, it’s much more fun to get your probiotics through fermented foods like kimchi, especially when it’s mixed with smoked salmon and scooped onto this Asian-inspired cross between an omelet and a crepe.
Soups and Salads
Keep any iron deficiencies at bay with the help of this lentil salad—the legume is an awesome source of iron and tastes particularly good with tangy sun-dried tomatoes and a sweet and spicy Dijon dressing.
It may not contain grains, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, sugar, or nuts, but there’s still plenty to enjoy about this soup, particularly the fact that it’s about as clean as food gets. The focus is entirely on the veggies, which take on such depth of flavor once they’re roasted that you won’t need more than a few simple spices to round out the dish.
Not a tofu fan? Tempeh is its heartier and meatier cousin, and as a fermented food, comes with lots of gut-aiding benefits. Marinated with tamari, chili powder, and cumin, it makes for a fantastic ground beef substitute in this vegan taco salad, where, bean, corn, and a creamy tahini dressing help make it filling enough for a full meal.
With bone broth, ginger and garlic for better immune function, kale and broccoli for gut-aiding fiber, and sweet potato for a thick, bisque-like texture, this soup is healthy with a capital H. Don’t just save it for when you’re sick, though—it’s too tasty not to have on healthier days too.
For a starch that’s even more resistant than potatoes, try taro root. Dressed up with lemon, olive oil, and parsley in this Greek salad, the tuber looks and even tastes like its spud cousins but is even better for your gut bacteria.
If conquering adrenal fatigue is a goal, turmeric is thought to be a must-have for your spice cabinet. Use it to give this produce-packed, protein-rich bowl a golden-hued, anti-inflammatory boost.
If your lactose sensitivities have been triggered, stay away from the dairy and get your cheesy pasta fix with this plant-based lasagna. Zucchini stands in for the pasta, while cashews and basil blend to make a rich sauce layered between the veggies.
Omega fatty acids. Iron. Fiber. Protein. Putting these two superfoods on a plate is practically the definition of a meal that supports adrenal health. Luckily for us, with the help of garlic, lemon, and turmeric, it’s easy to put together and tastes both clean and delicious.
OK, so organ meats may not make the top ten favorite foods lists for most of us. But there’s no getting around the fact that they’re particularly great sources of zinc and vitamin D. So saute chopped chicken liver with veggies, fresh herbs, and bone broth, and you’ve got a better Bolognese that tastes no different than regular meat sauce.
Beets and kale lend their fiber-filled, iron-rich benefits to this smoothie, but all you’ll taste is sweetness from the citrus fruits and berries that are also in the mix. Chug a tumbler full of this in the morning and you’ll have energy for hours.
Ditch that dehydrating cup of coffee and find comfort in this caffeine-free latte instead. Spiked with turmeric and ginger and lightly sweetened with honey, it tastes good and you can drink it at night without worrying about screwing up your sleep schedule.
Alcohol isn’t exactly recommended to help with adrenal fatigue, but that doesn’t mean you can’t kick back with a cool, refreshing drink to take the edge off. This holy basil tea-based mocktail is full of stress-relieving power, with sparkling water added for a bit of non-boozy bubbly.
More than just the latest hipster brew, kombucha is a veritable gold mine of gut and immune system-aiding probiotics. If you can’t quite stomach the stuff straight up, this recipe mixes it with apple juice and whole spices, making it much more palatable.