3 Diets for Cushing's Syndrome Patients

Cushing’s Syndrome is a hormonal disorder, where the two adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, secrete too much of the hormone cortisol. In normal conditions the adrenal glands release just the correct amount of cortisol, which helps the body respond to stress, for daily needs. In those with Cushing’s Syndrome, however, a tumor or prolonged use of cortisone drugs may cause the glands to release too much cortisol.The over-release of the hormone cortisol disturbs the metabolism and raises blood sugar levels. This leads to weight gain. While there is no single eating plan for Cushing’s Syndrome sufferers, there are sound diets that have been around for a long time, encourage balanced meals, and show positive results. Here are three such diets.

Weight Watchers

Cushing’s Syndrome patients are not only overweight but also experience depression and fatigue. The symptoms bear upon each other: Excess cortisol increases the appetite, but sadness also triggers a temptation to overeat. This is detrimental as overeating can lead to depression and listless inactivity. This only adds to the chronic fatigue caused by the hormonal imbalance. Health-care experts say that because of all these factors, diet programs that not only offer food advice but also moral support work well. That support comes from getting to know others who are overweight and trying hard to fight the temptation to give up. The success of a Weight Watchers program is not just about its advice on food but its holistic approach to sustained well-being through nutrition, exercise and meeting other overweight people in a supportive atmosphere.


Curves, a weight loss program and fitness club, offers a program especially designed for women who don’t feel comfortable in fitness gyms and spas geared toward healthy young women. Women coping with excessive weight due to their Cushing’s condition often express in support-group blogs how they feel self-conscious about their appearance. A supportive, noncompetitive atmosphere for exercising suits such patients well. Cushing’s Syndrome patients especially need to combine diet with gentle exercise that can help build muscle and bone strength, as excess levels of cortisol cause weakened muscles and brittle bones. The Curves plan features five small meals a day, which can help a sluggish metabolism. Also, the Curves eating plan limits refined carbohydrates and sweets. This is beneficial for Cushing’s Syndrome patients who must control their blood sugar levels.

South Beach Diet

The South Beach Diet does not exclude carbs and fats from the diet but rather focuses on “good” carbs–complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, beans and whole grains– and the right kinds of oil, such as olive or canola oil. Its exclusion of simple carbohydrates is beneficial for Cushing’s Syndrome patients. Bad carbs (white rice, white bread, bakery sweets), have a high glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index tend to increase blood sugar faster, higher and longer than do foods with a lower index. And this increase in blood sugar boosts the appetite–common pitfalls in Cushing’s Syndrome. As with other good diet plans, the South Beach Diet promotes sensible snacking, so that the metabolism is kept under control.




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