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Health Blog

The MSN Healthcare Health Blog offers news and analysis on weight loss, fatigue, personal health, and health news. It includes contributions from Dr. Mark Neumann and others. Click now.

 

Is the Ketogenic Diet Good for Adrenal Fatigue?

Mark Neumann

Ketogenic diet.jpg

One thing that you might have noticed, if you’re interested in health matters, is the fact that both these terms are quickly gaining popularity and are becoming more common. That’s because both of them are becoming realized for what they really are, which is why we thought it best to spread the knowledge a little further.  

In this article we’re going to tell you everything that you need to know about Adrenal Fatigue and the ketogenic diet and how they potentially work together. Hopefully, by the end of this article you will be able to improve the quality of your life by using what you have learned here to conquer your fatigue.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal Fatigue is a condition that is still the topic of fierce debate between traditional doctors and naturopathic doctors. Many doctors claim that Adrenal Fatigue is not a real disease, whereas naturopaths have believed for years that it is a real disease, so they’ve developed specialized treatments to combat the disease. For the people that don’t know, naturopathic doctors are people that specialize in natural medicine. These naturopaths claim that Adrenal Fatigue is a condition that is related to the adrenal glands that are located right above the kidneys in your body.  

Adrenal Fatigue occurs when these glands become stressed and are forced to produce varying levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. These varying levels of cortisol affect the body and thus bring about changes that can reduce your quality of life. The debate that has been raging on for years is that there is no concrete evidence that can prove that Adrenal Fatigue is a real disease. The heightened or lowered levels of cortisol don’t show up on traditional blood tests which is why many doctors do not believe in the disease. The rebuttal from naturopaths states that the changes are so minute that they cannot be noticed by traditional blood tests. In fact, naturopaths claim that the technology doesn’t exist that can properly determine whether the cortisol levels are being altered or not.  

Whether that is the case or not, there are many people that have benefited from seeking treatments for Adrenal Fatigue.

History of Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue was first described by Dr. James L. Wilson in 1998. He is a chiropractor, a naturopathic doctor, and he believes that fluctuating levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and the parent hormone DHEA, could be caused by the adrenal glands being overstimulated. In turn, he noted that this could lead to other problems that affect the human body. He was the one that coined the term hypoadrenia, which is the more scientific name for Adrenal Fatigue. He was also the first one to describe a list of possible causes which are still being followed for diagnosing Adrenal Fatigue.

RELATED ARTICLE: What is Adrenal Fatigue? Adrenal Fatigue Definition

Possible Causes of Adrenal Fatigue

There are a total of 10 common possible causes that are believed to contribute to Adrenal Fatigue. These are:

1)            Emotional Trauma and Negative Thinking: This is the biggest cause of Adrenal Fatigue, as a tumultuous emotional event can have drastic consequences on how your body behaves. That is not limited to only Adrenal Fatigue. Major emotional events can trigger a lot of things in your body, which is why this is the number one cause for Adrenal Fatigue.

2)            Unhealthy or Poor Diet: Your diet matters a lot because it can have an effect on how your brain and your body works. It stands to reason that having a poor or unhealthy diet would lead to Adrenal Fatigue. This could include not getting enough nutrients to supplement your body or eating too many unhealthy fats, processed foods, and sugars.

3)            Immense Pain: Any event that triggers immense pain in your body may cause your adrenal glands to overexert themselves and lead to them working differently than they were before. That may mean that your cortisol levels keep rising and falling, which is the determiner for Adrenal Fatigue.

4)            Arthritis: Getting inflicted with arthritis may also trigger Adrenal Fatigue. If your body doesn’t adapt to the condition, then fluctuating levels of cortisol may be sent out as a warning to the rest of the body.

5)            Food Sensitivities and Allergies: Every person has a different preference when it comes to food and that preference might be what triggers Adrenal Fatigue. Sensitivities to certain foods, and even allergic reactions, may cause the body to produce different quantities of cortisol or DHEA.

6)            Surgery: Any surgery, no matter how minor, takes a toll on the body and the after effects might include Adrenal Fatigue. The damage that is done to the body because of surgery may cause the adrenal glands to malfunction and thus make varying cortisol levels.

7)            Caffeine Dependency Through Coffee or Energy Drinks: Coffee and energy drinks often have too much caffeine for the body to make use of properly. In these cases, too much caffeine and the dependency on it can force your body to make different amounts of cortisol which can lead to Adrenal Fatigue.

8)            Stressful Events: Stressful events such as the death of a loved one, divorce, surgery, or a new job may trigger Adrenal Fatigue because your body may not be able to handle all the stress properly. In such cases, the adrenal glands in your body may malfunction and thus make varying degrees of cortisol.

9)            Long Term Exposure to Periods of Stress: If you work a stressful job and are exposed to a set amount of stress for long enough then your adrenal glands may malfunction, which could lead to Adrenal Fatigue.

10)         Drugs, Legal or Otherwise: The usage of certain drugs could trigger Adrenal Fatigue as well. The influx of new elements into the body may leave it unsure how to deal with them, triggering this issue.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue

There are a few common symptoms that might indicate whether you have Adrenal Fatigue or not. These symptoms include:

✔      Brain fog

✔      Sleep apnea

✔      Lower blood sugar

✔      Higher blood sugar

✔      Decreased libido

✔      Autoimmune failures

✔      Depression

✔      Irritability

✔      Hair loss

✔      Muscle or bone loss

✔      Insulin resistance

✔      Cravings for sweet or salty foods

✔      Skin ailments

✔      Weakened stress response

✔      Extreme weight gain or loss

✔      Chronic fatigue

Steps to Combat Adrenal Fatigue

There are three main ways to combat Adrenal Fatigue and eventually lower the stress that is causing the situation. In this article we will only be discussing the first step, which is the Adrenal Fatigue diet, and comparing it to the Ketogenic diet to see what differences and similarities can be found and eventually decide which of the two is the better option to try.

The Adrenal Fatigue Diet           

The Adrenal Fatigue diet doesn’t actually rework the whole of your diet but instead offers healthier alternatives to traditionally ‘unhealthy’ additions in your diet. The main things that this diet recommends you avoid are caffeine, sugar, carbs, and processed foods.  

Caffeine

Caffeine is an unnatural way of giving your body a burst of energy so that it can work more efficiently. The reason why caffeine is a big no-no in the Adrenal Fatigue diet is because it messes with the body’s own ability to make enough energy to get you through the day.  

The reliance on caffeine messes with the adrenal glands, as they do not know why your body suddenly has an excess of energy. This can confuse them into making cortisol because they might think that the body is under attack or there is something dangerous that has suddenly affected the body.  

Sugar and Sweeteners

Sugar and artificial sweeteners have been made to cater to the human taste that has developed over the years. That is why these two things aren't usually noticed even though they exist in everyday products such as bread, salad dressing, condiments, and a lot of dishes. The reason why we don't notice the amount of sugar in condiments and other foods is because we have grown accustomed to the taste. That is incredibly dangerous because we usually consume more than the recommended daily intake.  

As a healthier substitute for sugar and sweeteners, the Adrenal Fatigue diet recommends either raw honey or stevia. Raw honey is the most common natural sweetener and the distinct taste will let you know exactly how much you're consuming. As for stevia, it’s sweeter than sugar and is healthier and more natural. You'll need to use less of it than sugar and you'll feel much better after using it. 

Carbs

Carbs are the biggest threat to the Adrenal Fatigue diet, no matter what type they may be. So even if you regularly eat good carbs, you should stop having them for the simple reason that they are filling but give you only a short burst of energy. After that period, you’ll feel hungry again because your body will have used up all the energy that it got from the carbs, which can lead to you feeling tired, hungry, and even depressed.  

The Adrenal Fatigue diet instead relies on protein and fats because they contain a huge chunk of energy and it takes a while to completely exhaust the energy reserves that can be found in them. 

Processed Foods

Processed foods can include processed meats, microwaved food, and hydrogenated oils. All three of these are deadly and are not recommended even if you are not on the Adrenal Fatigue Diet. Processed meats are usually full of harmful substances like steroids and antibiotics, as well as artificial preservatives which can harm your body significantly.  

Microwaved foods also contain a lot of preservatives, whereas hydrogenated oils are inflammatory and can cause heart issues, which puts additional stress on your adrenal glands. 

Click to read more about the 11 Best Foods for Adrenal Fatigue + Adrenal Fatigue Diet Plan.

The Ketogenic Diet

The basic premise behind the keto diet is the removal of carbs and the reliance on protein and fats to supplement the body with enough energy to perform normal functions. Our bodies usually use glucose to get enough energy but there is an alternative to that, which is what the keto diet tries to embody.  

The keto diet is built to make sure that your body makes ketone bodies from the fat that you intake instead of using glucose for energy. This means that you burn fat faster and provide your body with energy through fat instead of sugar.  

History of the Ketogenic Diet

Keto is not a new development. In fact, it has been around since the 1900s. It was then developed to cure seizures because it was noticed that the less glucose that the body made, the lower the chances of having a seizure. It was later abandoned though because of the research and development of anti-seizure medication. The medication proved to be more reliable and easier to administer than the diet, so it became the norm.  

That is how things continued until somewhat recently when James S. Abraham, the director of Naked Gun and Airplane! came out in support of the diet. Unfortunately, his son Charlie was plagued with seizures and no amount of medication was helping him. Abraham then came across the diet and tried it out on his son in an effort to help him. It worked, and the amount and intensity of his son's seizures were greatly reduced. This led to him establishing the Charlie Foundation to spread awareness of the diet and how it could help people.  

With that, public interest in the diet was renewed and that led to more research being conducted into it. That eventually led to people discovering how useful it was for losing weight as well. Since then, it has been widely accepted by dietitians and nutritionists as a healthier alternative to the normally high carb diet that most of us follow. 

Stipulations of the Ketogenic Diet

There are a few stipulations of the Ketogenic diet which make this diet remarkably similar to the Adrenal Fatigue diet.  

Aversion of Carbs

The main premise of this diet is that you have to cut out as many carbs from your diet as you can. They are a form of cheap energy, which is why they must be removed. They are the biggest source of glucose that you could get, and they must be removed if you expect your body to supplement itself with just proteins and fats. That means no bread, rice, or noodles, so you can say goodbye to your usual staples. However, there are now many great alternatives! 

Cutting out Sugar

Sugar is also another excellent form of glucose which is why it must be completely removed. Instead, low carb sweeteners are what will help as an alternative. These low carb sweeteners include stevia and monk fruit sweeteners which, unsurprisingly, are also recommended by the Adrenal Fatigue diet.  

The typical Ketogenic diet consists of high fats, medium proteins, and little to no carbs. This is a different take on a healthier diet but, as you can see, there are a lot of similarities between the two diets. It isn’t all the same, however, because there are a few additional features of the Adrenal Fatigue diet that set it apart from the Ketogenic diet.

Differences Between the Two Diets

The first difference between the two diets is the reasoning behind the diet. The Adrenal Fatigue diet tries to cut out everything that is not considered to be natural. The more processed an item is, the more it should be avoided.  

The Ketogenic diet on the other hand, is purely scientific in nature. It has very straightforward reasoning that glucose should be avoided and instead ketone bodies should be the source of energy in the body. It is only through happenstance that the foods that are considered unhealthy by the Adrenal Fatigue diet are the ones that need to be avoided in the Ketogenic diet.

Another big difference between the two is that the Adrenal Fatigue diet calls for additional items that can help with the diet such as essential oils. There are no such stipulations in the Ketogenic Diet, as it is only concerned with removing carbs and focusing on fats and protein.

Which is Better?

Honestly, it depends on your situation. If you are looking to just lose weight and get more energy then you should follow the Keto diet. It can help you lose weight very quickly and give you a lot of energy daily. If you are stressed and need to reduce the amount of stress you have, then you should follow the Adrenal Fatigue diet. Keep in mind, however, that this is not the only thing that you will have to do. You will also have to follow the additional steps that help you deal with Adrenal Fatigue, because the diet by itself can only get you so far.