Adrenal Fatigue and Menopause: Nutritional and Other Treatments

In another article, we described Adrenal Fatigue and how it can affect women during menopause. Here we will go into some safe and natural approaches that can help you and help support your adrenal glands—and that may significantly reduce some of the issues during menopause.

First, let’s look at some dietary and nutritional approaches.

Timing your meals and snacks

Before we go into the actual foods, remember to eat regularly. One of the main functions of cortisol, the adrenal hormone most concerned with stress, is helping to maintain normal functioning. To do this optimally, you need to nourish your body regularly and with healthy, whole foods. This means staying away from ANY processed foods. These contain preservatives and additives—and even if you don’t believe these are adding to your toxic load, they ARE chemicals that your body cannot use—why waste any energy on foods that won’t do a thing for you and are more likely to harm than help you?

Snacks between meals has gotten a bad reputation, but it really depends on the type of snacks you eat. A doughnut between breakfast and lunch will certainly raise your blood sugar, but it’s exactly those types of sugar spikes that stresses out the adrenal glands. Instead of that glazed doughnut, try some mixed nuts, carrots, celery, a small salad or pita chips.

Eat a high protein breakfast helps keep your blood sugars down and helps balance your cortisol levels. Try to eat a good breakfast by about 8am and have a healthy snack at around 9:30-10 am.

Eat a solid lunch anywhere between 11:30 and 1pm. It may mean working around work schedules, but if it is at all possible, it will definitely help—especially if you can keep to this scheduling every day. Leave room for a snack at around 3-4pm—particularly if you have noticed that it can be hard to stay awake or alert at this time of the day. Stay away from carbohydrate snacks—these can work against you (raising blood sugar levels which then crash, making you feel even worse) Try some nuts, fruit, granola, cheese, boiled egg, crackers and a nut butter or some raw veggies.

Aim for a relatively light dinner at around 5-6pm. Light dinners are recommended because they are easier to digest—and this stresses your adrenal glands less! Again, have a light snack before bedtime—cheese, fruit, crackers or veggies are good choices.

Foods that support the adrenal glands

You may want them, you may even crave them, but the absolute LAST food you should be eating are the sweet or salty snacks that are oh, so convenient. Remember, the adrenal glands also take care of mineral balance in the body—and salt contains minerals, whether its sodium or potassium. The sweet snacks spike up your blood sugar, and then crashes your blood sugar adding even more stress on the adrenals.

The best foods to support the adrenal glands are whole foods with complex carbohydrates—whole grains like barley, millet, quinoa, whole wheat and brown rice. Eat high quality, lean protein. Eat lots of vegetables, especially the leafy green vegetables and brightly colored vegetables—these include chard, kale, spinach, mustard greens, purple cabbage, broccoli, carrots, peppers etc. Include legumes such as lentils, beans, split peas and don’t forget the nuts and seeds. Don’t forget to drink lots and lots of pure, filtered water.

Herbs and supplements that support the adrenal glands

Try the following herbs and supplements. We recommend, however, that you speak to a knowledgeable healthcare professional first, before staring any herb or supplement—each woman is unique and may require unique advice.

  • Vitamins C, B-complex vitamins (especially B6) and Vitamin E all support the adrenal glands.
  • Minerals you might want to add include magnesium, calcium, zinc, selenium, copper, chromium and iodine (careful about iodine if you have a thyroid condition—consult your healthcare professional!)
  • Herbs that are used to support adrenal function include:
    • Licorice (an extract from the licorice plant—NOT the chewy candy!!). The botanical name is Glycyrrhiza glabra. The licorice plant should not be used for more than 6 weeks at a time and should be used while under the care of a qualified healthcare professional.
    • Siberian ginseng or Eleutherococcus senticosus. Siberian ginseng may occasionally increase blood pressure. Siberian ginseng has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)
    • Rhodiola rosea is also known as Arctic root and grows in cold regions at high altitudes. The roots have been traditionally used to increase stamina and resistance to stress. In herbal medicine, Rhodiola is known as an adaptogen—a plant that helps you adapt to your circumstances.
    • Ashwaganda is an herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine (in India) for centuries. Its botanical name is Withania somnifera and it is another adaptogen.
    • Holy basil or Occimum sanctum is closely related to the basil we all know and has been used for centuries by TCM, Ayurveda and other traditional medicines.

About coffee—oh, this is a tough one for many women. The truth is, coffee adds more stress to the adrenal glands. Keep the coffee and caffeine in general to a minimum—aim for 1-2 cups of coffee in the morning only. Also, minimize the amount of alcohol you drink—alcohol puts stress on the adrenal glands because of the sugars present in alcohol.

So, eat well, get some sleep, reduce your stress levels and maybe use some of the herbs and supplements listed here….easy, right? Well, not always so easy—read our articles on how to reduce stress in your life—but definitely worth the effort!

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