Addison’s Disease is an endocrine disorder where the adrenal glands do not produce enough of two key hormones: cortisol and aldosterone. Cortisol is needed for several functions like controlling blood pressure and maintaining proper blood glucose levels. Aldosterone also helps control blood pressure by retaining water and sodium and excreting potassium. So it’s no surprise that people with Addison’s Disease can have trouble maintaining proper levels of blood pressure and blood glucose in their bodies.
Addison’s Disease can be treated with lifelong hormone replacement therapy. However, proper diet and nutrition can also help people with Addison’s Disease control their condition.
Diet and Nutrition For Addison’s Disease: Drink up!
People with Addison’s Disease are at risk for becoming dehydrated. This is because without enough aldosterone, the body cannot retain enough water and instead excretes too much of it. If you have Addison’s Disease, try to increase your daily fluid intake to 3000mL (100 oz).
Diet and Nutrition For Addison’s Disease: Pass the salt please
We have all heard about how cutting down on salt is good for you. However, people with Addison’s Disease are losing too much salt thanks to a lack of aldosterone. This puts them at risk for low sodium or hyponatremia. So if you have Addison’s Disease, add some more salt to your diet and don’t shy too much away from high sodium foods like shellfish and even milk.
Diet and Nutrition For Addison’s Disease: Curb your potassium
The lack of aldosterone causes the body to excrete too much sodium and retain too much potassium. So keep high potassium foods like bananas, melons, and avocados to a minimum in your diet. And avoid salt substitutes. Those are usually made with potassium. An over abundance of potassium in the body is called hyperkalemia and signs and symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramps, and muscle weakness.
Diet and Nutrition For Addison’s Disease: Eat your carbs
Without enough cortisol, the liver cannot release enough glucose into the bloodstream, placing people with Addison’s Disease at increased risk for fasting hypoglycemia. Manifestations of hypoglycemia include shaking, anxiety, and nausea. If you have Addison’s disease, always have a quick sugar source available like hard candy or chocolate. You should also consume something like bread or crackers after eating the candy to give yourself a longer acting carbohydrate.
Note: this article is for informational purposes only. If you have Addison’s Disease, speak with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Merck website, Hypoglycemia,(2006). Retrieved on November 28, 2010
National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service (National Institutes of Health), Adrenal Insufficiency and Addison’s Disease,(2009). Retrieved on November 27, 2010
LeMone, Priscilla & Burke, Karen (2008). Medical-Surgical Nursing-Critical Thinking In Client Care (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall pp 553-556