Eating to support most areas of health involves eating only – or mainly – whole, unrefined, unprocessed foods that are nutrient-rich. This is no different for the adrenals and nervous system. They need plenty of protein, essential fats, slow-releasing carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to remain in full health, and especially when they are fatigued or being over-stimulated.
Here are 5 food types that are particularly supportive.
1. Foods high in protein
Try to eat these with every meal and snack. Protein slows down the breakdown of foods and absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. The types of foods highest in protein are eggs (choose free range and organic), meat, fish, beans and legumes (lentils, chickpeas), nuts and seeds. Dairy products such as natural yoghurt and cheese are also high in protein but many people have some degree of intolerance to cow’s milk in particular; intolerance and allergic reactions put further strain on the adrenal glands and the whole body so these foods may need to be avoided; or swap for goat’s or sheep's milk products.
2. Foods rich in B vitamins
The B vitamins are essential for energy production, for the normal functioning of the nervous system, and vitamin B5 in particular for production of the glucocorticoid hormones in the adrenals, such as cortisol. Good sources include whole grains, eggs, beans and lentils, a wide range of vegetables, fish and meats (choose good quality or organic meat). Taking a B Vitamin Complex can be very supportive. The Wild Nutrition B Complex Plus also includes vitamin C, magnesium (see below) and the herb Ashwagandha shown to support healthy cortisol regulation.
3. Magnesium rich foods
Magnesium is essential for energy production and for our adrenal hormones, and is quickly used up when we are stressed. The best examples are nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds; and hemp protein powder), buckwheat groats or flour (buckwheat is actually a seed and not related to wheat), greens such as spinach and kale, and fish and seafood. If sleep is an issue then taking an additional 80mg of Food-Grown Magnesium at night can be a great support.
4. Vitamin C rich foods
Vitamin C is another nutrient that is vital for the manufacture of adrenal hormones. Fruits and vegetables are the best source but, contrary to popular belief, oranges do not have the highest levels; better sources include peppers, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, watercress and red cabbage. Go easy on the fruit, as it can be high in sugar – no more than two pieces per day is best for most people.
5. Green ‘superfoods’
Try green ‘superfoods’ such as the micro-algae chlorella and spirulina. These foods are extremely rich in a wide range of nutrients, including those mentioned above, and are easily absorbed because they need little processing by the digestive system.