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Toxic Foods That Can Harm Your Adrenals

Toxic Foods you should avoidA nutritious diet plays a significant role in adrenal fatigue recovery. As time has progressed, farming technology and food storage methods have changed drastically. Modern commercial storage techniques often use pesticides, synthetic compounds, artificial sweeteners, flavoring, and coloring agents that can transform nutritious foods into toxic foods. Consuming such foods can contribute to various illness including cardiovascular problems, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, and even cancer.

Experiencing fatigue is one of the common problems that people face. If you often feel fatigued, suffer from anxiety, struggle waking up, brain fog, low concentration levels, stubborn weight gain, and low energy levels you may suffer from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). These symptoms are not definitive indications of adrenal fatigue. However, they may indicate an extremely high level of stress.

The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response is your body’s natural stress-fighting module. When under stress, the NEM stress response signals your adrenal glands which then secrete an anti-stress hormone called cortisol. With consistent stress, the adrenals get overburdened reducing cortisol secretion capacity. This decreases your body’s ability to deal with stress which may cause adrenal fatigue.

How Toxic Foods Harm Your Adrenals

Stressful experiences, lack of adequate sleep, food sensitivities, environmental toxins, trauma, surgery, excessive stimulants, negative thinking, prolonged stress, pain, and poor diet are some of the factors contributing to adrenal fatigue. However, toxic foods are one of the most overlooked stressors. In people with low immunity or AFS, consumption of toxic foods can set off triggers.

Your body utilizes vitamins and minerals from food for energy and nourishment. However, when you consume foods high in synthetic compounds, the harmful substances enter into your body. Gradually, with time, the toxins from food accumulate into the body burdening your NEM stress response system. This is an intricate network of various organs and circuits including the gastrointestinal tract, immune system, cognitive function and endocrine glands. When your body’s stress response system is overburdened, the various organs connected to it also get dysfunctional creating various symptoms of stress. Increased sensitivity and allergy to foods and chemicals are among the symptoms. Synthetic ingredients and materials used for preserving, packaging, and transporting the foods may be the contributing factors. Extensive use of synthetic additives and chemically coated storage containers to prolong the shelf life can reduce nutrition content of the food. Above all, most of the synthetic compounds used in food are carcinogenic making the food toxic. Being aware of how foods are processed, shipped, and stored can help you avoid eating toxic foods.

Toxic Foods You Should Stop Consuming

Avoiding toxic foods is one of the most effective ways to fight adrenal fatigue naturally. Eating these foods can harm your adrenals and impede your adrenal fatigue recovery process. Staying away from foods with preservatives and chemicals to improve shelf life can help heal your adrenals. Here is a list of toxic foods that you need to stop eating immediately.

Canned Tomatoes

Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and essential nutrients which help in strengthening your immunity, cardiovascular health, and adrenal function. Your adrenals require vitamin C to produce anti-stress hormone cortisol. Fresh organic tomatoes are loaded with nutrients. However, many people prefer canned tomatoes because of the added convenience they provide. Canned foods may contain preservatives that can negatively impact your health.

Toxic Foods and canned foodsMost of the tin cans used for storing foods are lined with an industrial chemical known as Bisphenol A (BPA) which is a synthetic estrogen. Small quantities of BPA leach into canned foods. However, higher quantities of this chemical releases into acidic canned foods such as tomatoes which can increase health risk. Exposure to BPA has been linked with breast cancer, early puberty, infertility, diabetes and obesity. Synthetic preservatives and BPA can interact with your body and burden the body’s NEM stress response system. BPA free products may not be an effective alternative because BPS (Bisphenol S) is often used as a substitute which can have similar effects. Therefore, consider eating fresh organic produce that is free from harmful chemicals. Choosing natural products that are stored in glass or stainless steel containers is an excellent alternative.

Processed Meat

Fish and lean meat are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. However, processed meats contain added hormones and preservatives, which can negatively affect your adrenals, cause diabetes, metabolic syndrome and colon cancer. Your favorite hotdogs, ham, bacon, and salami all come under the category of processed meat. Most of these foods are loaded with chemical additives, sodium nitrites, and sodium nitrates that are carcinogenic. Consider buying free-range chicken or organic grass-fed meat instead. Keep in mind that excess protein can stress your body’s hormonal balance and kidney function. Therefore, it is vital to consume protein in moderation.


Lab tests have confirmed that most of the ground beef in the U.S contain high levels of fecal bacteria which can cause illness. Furthermore, studies show that fast food hamburgers have less meat, over 50% of its weight comprises of water content. Plant waste material, bone, and cartilage have also been found in fast food burgers. It is wise to choose fast food chains that offer grass-fed beef.

Microwave Butter Popcorn

Most of us love to have microwave butter popcorn while watching movies at home. But instant popcorn contain diacetyl, a fake butter flavor which is known to cause an irreversible and life-threatening lung disease called as popcorn lung. Manufacturers are now replacing diacetyl with 2,3- pentanedione which is equally toxic and can affect your health. Studies have related diacetyl with Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, instant popcorn contains emulsifiers and oils. It's best to avoid flavored butter popcorn.

Popcorn popped over the stove makes a healthy low-calorie weight loss snack. Stove popcorn can greatly improve energy levels, help with weight loss, and benefit those with AFS. Antioxidant compounds and polyphenol in popcorn help promote healthy gut bacteria, regulate metabolism, and reduce inflammation. People with adrenal fatigue often experience anxiety and dizziness. Stove popcorn can provide you with essential nutrients, support your metabolism, and help balance blood sugar levels. For a well- balanced snack, add a few dehydrated fruits and nuts to combat fatigue.

To make popcorn healthily, cook it on the stove plain and unsalted. Drizzle some olive oil or melted organic butter. Add sea salt or Himalayan pink salt for seasoning and sprinkle spices of your choice such as smoked paprika or unsalted mixed herbs. However, Keep in mind that those who suffer from AFS may be sensitive to certain grains and corn.


Studies show that sodas are high in sugar, calories, and artificial flavors which raise the risk of diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and gout. The caramel coloring used in sodas has been linked to increasing the risk of cancer by 58%. Homemade diluted fresh fruit juice, smoothies, and herbal teas are healthier alternatives to soda.

Diet Soda

Most of us tend to think that diet soda is not harmful. They contain artificial sweeteners, which actually do more harm to your metabolic system than sugar. Drinking diet soda has been associated with increased risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes and other health problems.Studies show that drinking diet soda can increase the risk of type-2 diabetes by 67% and increase the risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 34%. Artificially sweetened beverages including diet soda have been linked with long-term weight gain. Therefore, such beverages should be avoided especially in AFS.

Ready to Use Pancake Mix

Avoid these toxic foodsYour box of pancake mix can contain trans-fat, BMO soya bean, preservatives, and salt which can clog your arteries. Homemade pancake mixes are a lot healthier and cheaper than the packaged versions. Consider replacing refined flour with whole wheat flour or even gluten-free flour.


Though touted to be healthier than butter, margarine contains high amount of industrial trans-fat which increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 21%, mortality from heart disease by 28%, and mortality by 34%. Margarine also contains artificial flavors and colors which can harm your health. Organic butter, nut butter, and olive oil contain fat-soluble vitamins, healthy saturated fats, and other vitamins making them healthier alternatives. Unsalted butter and whipped butter are also good alternatives.

Conventionally Grown Strawberries

High levels of pesticide are found in conventionally grown vegetables. Research shows that over 98% of conventionally grown strawberries contained pesticide residue. Some of the strawberry samples also contained over 17 types of pesticide residue.


These tiny greens grow in warm moist conditions, similar to bacteria such as listeria, E.coli, and salmonella. Therefore, while growing sprouts it is crucial to handle them with care to prevent bacteria growth. Store grown sprouts can be old which increases the chances of contamination. Growing your own sprouts at home is the best way to reap the benefits of this nutritious food.

Organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are rich sources of nutrition. Processed foods containing shortening, palm oil, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrates, MSG, artificial flavor and coloring can pose threat to your health. Processing strips food of its natural nutrients. People with AFS need to take additional care of food sensitivities and allergies to prevent triggers. Following an adrenal fatigue diet comprising of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fat, regular physical activity, adrenal breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and a mild detox regime can help optimize your adrenal functioning. Also, it is pertinent to stay away from toxic foods; one of the most overlooked stressors for maintaining adrenal health.


toxic foodsFoods have a direct impact on your health. Preservatives and chemicals used in the commercial production of food can be very harmful to your health. These industrial procedures reduce food’s nutritional value and may also make the food toxic. Consuming toxic foods gives rise to numerous health problems and life-threatening diseases. It can burden your NEM stress response system thus affecting the body’s stress-fighting mechanism. Unlike canned, processed, or chemically treated foods, fresh organic foods are free from any harmful additives making them extremely nutritious and healthy. Natural food preservation methods such as fermentation, pickling, or sun drying are great ways to enhance the shelf life of foods without adding any synthetic ingredients. Eating fresh foods provides your body with essential nourishment, helps support your adrenals, and accelerates your adrenal recovery process.

© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam's Key Question

Food itself is not toxic. The use of synthetic compounds and certain harmful materials in food production and packing makes food toxic. To avoid toxic foods, consume fresh organic foods as they are free of chemical additives. Natural foods packed in glass jars are healthier than the canned version. Glass, porcelain, stainless steel, copper or clay are considered safe for storing your food.

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