How To Treat Adrenal Fatigue And Build Resiliency

Dr. Alan Christianson
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Guest Post by Dr. Alan Christianson

This is guest post by my friend and colleague, Dr. Alan Christianson. He co-authored the great new book The Adrenal Reset Diet – a truly Bulletproof approach to supporting your adrenals and healing adrenal fatigue from the inside out. Enjoy!

Wouldn’t you love to be Bulletproof? Can’t you just see yourself saving the day while the bad guy’s ammo bounces off your chest? As cool as that might be, I think Dave is pointing to something more attainable in life: like resiliency.

As a physician, I think in terms of your body’s systems. Your resiliency comes down to a couple of tiny chunks of meat sitting on top of your kidneys, each no larger than a nickel. These are your adrenal glands and the healthier they are, the more resilient you will be.

If you are old enough to be reading things like this, you know that life comes with no shortage of drama. You’ve probably had a few big things that threw you for a loop just in the last few months. Getting through it all without a few bumps is not realistic. The difference between life’s events being just small bumps versus becoming devastating to you? It’s your level of resiliency – and you can never have too much.

This post outlines common adrenal fatigue stressors and markers, and what to do about them.

Identify Your Adrenal Stressors

Becoming resilient is more important than ever in modern life, because there are many things – in addition to obvious stress – that can chip away at your adrenals.

Factors include:

  • Pollutants
  • Processed foods
  • Fake light
  • Electronic distractions
  • Heating and air conditioning
  • Medications
  • Bad intestinal bacteria
  • Insomnia
  • Isolation

Your resilience is what is left after adding up all of these factors in your life. How can you raise your resilience to become more Bulletproof? For starters, treat the causes as much as you can without making yourself crazy.

How To Treat Adrenal Fatigue

These are some of the most effective practices I recommend:

  • Pollutants – Eat organic, use nontoxic cleaners, put a HEPA filter in your bedroom.
  • Processed foods – Just say no.
  • Fake light – Start your day with sunlight. Avoid fake light at night, when you can’t, wear amber shades like Dave.
  • Electronic distractions – Choose when to use, then shut them off. Read a book, write on paper, go outside.
  • Heating and air conditioning – Have your nights be at least 10 degrees cooler than your days.
  • Medications – Ask your doc if you have any other options. If she or he doesn’t know, ask your friends to recommend another doc.
  • Bad intestinal bacteria – Eat the widest range of natural foods that you can, some of it fermented.
  • Insomnia – Don’t think you’ll thrive on less, make sleep a top priority
  • Isolation – When is the last time you hung out with your friends for no special reason? Make it happen, this may be the biggest game changer on the list.

Along with creating a life that naturally raises your resiliency, here are a few more tricks that can make your adrenals stronger even when things don’t go the way you would like.

Leave the carbs until later

Carbs at night? Won’t they turn straight into fat? If you eat them at all, aren’t you supposed to have them in the morning so you can burn them?

It turns out your body has an insulin cycle. In the day insulin pulls your glucose into your belly fat, in the night it pulls glucose into your muscles. The other reason is that cortisol is used to keep blood sugar up when you’re low carb.

At night higher cortisol means worse sleep. Even a small amount of green zone carbs like squash, sweet potatoes, honey, or berries can keep your nighttime cortisol in check.

Play really hard

You’ve heard of fight or flight but the funny thing is that if you don’t really do either, you stay stuck in the stress state. How can you turn this off without risking jail time? Find a way to compete. Competition is one of the most powerful socially acceptable ways to vent the fight or fight response.

This can be as simple as competing with others in a race, or competing against yourself by trying to be a little stronger or faster than last year. You can also engage the competitive response by trying to master some new skill. I do a lot of off-road riding, it is a rush to try and stay upright over part of the trail I’ve never done before.

What are some hobbies you have done before that could challenge you to raise the bar? You can even get the same benefit of competition by mentoring or coaching someone else.

With a few basic steps, you can Bulletproof your adrenals in a surprisingly short time. Measurable change in cortisol rhythms can show up in just a few weeks and once you’re back on track, your body will stay there through all but the worst of challenges.

For a more in depth glimpse into the ideal way to eat to heal your adrenal glands, and other Bulletproof adrenal system hacks, check out my new book.




Dr. Alan Christianson founded Integrative Health: a group of physicians whose philosophy is to “Provide smart, safe, primarily natural and scientific solutions for the entire family to live ‘in good health.’” They are the bio hackers of the physician brigade. Dr. Christianson is Phoenix, Arizona-based and specializes in natural endocrinology with a focus on thyroid disorders. He wrote, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease,” and is a competitive mountain unicyclist and a licensed pilot!

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By Dave Asprey

  • Harlan.

    I’m glad to see this being addressed here. It was a pretty light article however, but I’m sure his book goes into depth.

    Bulletproof coffee and intermittent fasting pretty much smashed my adrenals. Took about a year to fix.

    • Eddie Strike

      What are the top 3 things you used to fix your adrenals?

  • TacoTruck

    That was a Bulletproof advertorial!

  • Not convinced

    Could anybody bring some studies that prove existence of the adrenal fatigue? I am not convinced that it is the issue and it looks like fraud to me.

    • HE3

      Fraud? Isn’t that a little strong? Also why do studies have to be the standard? They are expensive to run so there is much more data available that is dismissed merely because it wasn’t in some randomized double blind study. There have been at least two talks on TED for example which show extreme bias on many of the sites charged with being that gold standard you are seeking. IOW they are omitting studies with negative findings.
      I reckon the answers exist somewhere between a good dose of both inductive and deductive reasoning.
      That plus a lot of unbiased, good ole looking with our own eyes.
      Studies are either prohibitively expensive or to easy to fudge. Don’t let them over guide you.

  • Christian Tachev

    I really enjoy these articles Dave, however as Harlan said they generally are pretty light. It would be great if you could include citations and references so people who want to do further research on the topics discussed can do so. I really want to do more research on the insulin cycle and it would be very convenient if there was a link or two on it.

  • Carly

    As someone who has diagnosed adrenal fatigue, I was hoping to find an answer here as to whether the bulletproof diet/bulletproof intermittent fasting is appropriate for someone with adrenal fatigue. This wasn’t addressed at all. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

  • Tim

    To “Play really hard” would put you right back into Adrenal Fatigue very quickly. I had severe Adrenal Fatigue and every time I pushed myself, my adrenals would shut down again almost immediately. Ask my holistic doctor. What eventually healed me was LOTS OF REST, ELIMINATING STRESS, and ELIMINATING ALL SUGAR AND CARBS. I can’t freaking believe how much energy I have now. Seriously. Sugar is poison and carbs turn into sugar when you consume them. I work out every day and my strength is increasing rapidly and I’m getting more muscular all over, quickly. All without sugar and carbs. NOW I play hard ; )

  • HE3

    For me, laughing ranks higher than the stresses of competitive sports or the like. I like to listen to or watch shows before bed. One of the best is Last Man Standing with Tim Allen. Many laughs per show. Very well written.

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  • Chana Ben-Shimon

    Thank you. Great article with useful information.