Stressed Out and Tired? You Might Have Adrenal Fatigue

 

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

What is Adrenal FatigueAdrenal fatigue is a stress-related condition that occurs when the adrenal glands function below their optimal levels. The adrenal glands are small, rounded glands on top of each kidney. They are essential for life, as they secrete hormones that prepare the body to respond to stress (Wilson, 2014).

The adrenals are our “fight or flight” glands (Bauman, 2015). They perform several vital roles in maintaining health. Their most important function is to control the body’s response to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol, noradrenalin, and epinephrine. The adrenal glands also produce other hormones like DHEA, pregnenelone, progesterone, and testosterone.

Adrenal fatigue (hypoadrenia) is the result of repeated overstimulation of the adrenal glands for a long period due to chronic stress. Over time the adrenal glands may no longer be able to adequately respond to stressful situations.

Signs and Symptoms

Constantly feeling exhausted is one of the most common symptoms in Adrenal Fatigue.  Other symptoms include feeling very tired in the morning and wide awake at night, inability to handle stress, cravings for salty foods, a weakened immune system, disruption of healthy sleeping patterns, digestive and thyroid issues, and low sex drive.

Restoring Adrenal Health

Stress increases our bodies’ need for energy, and nutrients are burned up much faster when we experience stress (Wilson, 2014). Actively choosing foods that aid and support recovery is the foundation for any healing process.

When it comes to adrenal health, a blood sugar balancing diet with a focus on high quality proteins and fats is crucial (Bauman, 2015). Fats and proteins are important for the formation of hormones, neurotransmitters, and enzymes necessary for the restoration of adrenal health.

Foods to add

  • Green tea or matcha tea as a replacement for coffee
  • Healthy fats – avocado, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, nuts (Brazil nuts) and seeds
  • Clean protein – wild caught fish, pasture raised eggs, free range chicken, grass fed beef, nuts, broccoli, quinoa, beans, hemp seeds, kale, and spinach
  • Pink Himalayan salt – a better choice for salt as it is unprocessed and contains 84 trace minerals
  • Fermented foods – sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir for better digestion
  • Leafy greens – spinach, kale, romaine, arugula, collards, dandelion greens, and fresh herbs are high in magnesium, vitamin C, iron and chlorophyll
  • Seaweed – contains iodine and other minerals that support the adrenal gland
  • Low sugar fruits and citrus fruits and colorful veggies – provide us with fiber, sweetness, flavor, and essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes

Foods to avoid

  • Coffee – coffee is a stimulant and stimulates the adrenals to produce cortisol and adrenaline
  • Soda, energy drinks – caffeine and sugar overwork the adrenal glands
  • Refined sugar – causes blood sugar spikes and provides no nutritional value
  • Processed foods – these foods are void of nutrients and make the body work harder to process all the chemicals, trans fats, toxins, and preservatives
  • Table salt – has been stripped of all its minerals, is mostly sodium chloride, and contains anticaking agents
  • Any food you’re allergic to – eating foods you’re allergic to triggers the immune response which results in inflammation and creates stress in the body

Adaptogens

Adaptogens are a unique group of herbs used to improve the health of the adrenal system.  They help strengthen the body’s response to stress, enhance its ability to cope with anxiety, and fight fatigue.

These herbs restore overall balance.  They can be strengthening and/or relaxing, depending on the body’s needs.  When taken daily as a tea, tincture, or extract, these herbs may help improve your mental functioning.  Examples of adaptogenic herbs include ginseng, holy basil, ashwagandha, rhodiola, licorice, and maca.

Lifestyle Support

  • Balance the blood sugar by eating regularly throughout the day.What is Adrenal Fatigue
  • Sleep 8 to 9 hours per night. Try to be in bed by 10 or 10:30 pm.
  • Journal both positive and negative thoughts to get them out of your head. Write three things you’re grateful before bedtime to end the day on a positive note.
  • Moderate exercise – walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi daily.
  • Meditation and breathing. Even 5-10 minutes per day is beneficial!  Breathe deep whenever you are feeling stressed.
  • Recognize perceived stress and learn to let go.

When the root cause of adrenal fatigue is addressed, (which are the stressors in your life), the adrenals can heal and begin to function normally.  By changing our diet, lifestyle, and how we manage stress, adrenal fatigue can be reversed.

Sources:

Adrenal Fatigue Solutions: Various Articles, www.adrenalfatiguesolution.com

Bauman, E. et al (2015): Therapeutic Nutrition, Part 1, Penngrove, CA: Bauman College

Mayo Clinic: Adrenal Fatigue, FAQ (2014). www.mayoclinic.org

Murray, M. et al (2012): The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 3rd Edition, Atria, New York

Wilson, James L. (2014): Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, Smart Publications

World’s Heathiest Foods: www.whfoods.com

Should You Take Probiotics?

“Probiotic” is the new buzzword in health food marketing, along with probiotic supplements.  But what exactly are probiotics and why do we need them?

Probiotics are basically the good bacteria that live inside our gut.  All of the bacteria that live within our body is called the “microbiome”.

The microbiome is an ecosystem within us. It’s made of communities of both good and bad bacteria which call our bodies home. In fact, we have more bacteria than we do our own cells! Our gut bacteria is strongly tied to our immune system, and serves other functions as well:

* Protects against pathogens, toxins, infections

* Helps absorb vitamin B12, iron and magnesium, glucose and fatty acids

* Supports healthy bowel movements

* Works in concert with our immune system

When our bad bacteria outnumber our beneficial bacteria, our “microbiome” becomes out of balance and we become vulnerable to illnesses such as arthritis, thyroid imbalance, chronic fatigue, autism, depression, IBS, and cancer. In fact, more than 40 diseases have been linked to bacterial imbalance. Seventy percent of our immune system is in the gut. Isn’t it interesting that gut health and immune health are so closely related?

WHAT CREATES IMBALANCE?

Modern life affects our microbiome in a negative way. The invention of the refrigerator eliminated the need for fermented foods, which are high in beneficial bacteria. “Antibacterial” soaps and hand sanitizer, as well as antibiotics, kill both bad and good bacteria.

Our American diet of sugar, processed foods, commercial meats, and unhealthy fats (from crackers, chips, etc.), as well as medications, can reduce the number of good bacteria in the gut and allow the bad bacteria to take over. Genetically modified foods and stress also kill good bacteria. As you can see, almost everyone can benefit by adding probiotics to your daily routine.

Should you take probiotics?Foods rich in probiotics include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, miso, and kefir. It’s important that the bacteria is “live”, so canned sauerkraut and processed yogurt with “fruit on the bottom” are not good sources. If purchasing in the store, sauerkraut and other fermented foods need to be in the refrigerated section. Or you can make your own at home, which is more economical, and you control the ingredients!

SUPPLEMENTS

Probiotic supplements are an effective way to balance the gut when food sources are not enough. They’re an effective way to colonize the gut with good bacteria more quickly.

What to look for in a quality supplement:

* What are the number of strains and the right strains for the health issue? Strains are different types of bacteria that have different functions.

* How many probiotics are in the supplement?

* How the supplement is created and bacteria kept alive? If the bacteria is dead, it won’t do you any good. A good quality probiotic will be refrigerated. There are some freeze-dried probiotics

which are effective, but my probiotic of choice is Innate Response Brand. All of their products are high quality and food based, and can be purchased at Jade Star Acupuncture.

* A good probiotic will have an expiration date.innate-response

What do the numbers mean?

* 5-14 means there are 5 billion active cells from 14 different strains

* 20-14 = 20 billion active cells from 14 strains

* 50-14 = 50 billion active cells from 14 strains

Someone with a weak digestion or chronic illness may not be able to handle a high dose of probiotic foods or supplements. Starting slow (1 TBSP of food or a lower dose of probiotic) and increasing the amount slowly will help your body adjust to your new friends!

What are your thoughts on probiotics?  Integral to our health, or just another health fad?

 

Fresh Three Bean and Corn Salad

Summer is here – hip hip hooray!  Long, lazy days, family gatherings, potlucks, cool early mornings, swimming, puzzles, and monsoon season are just a few of my favorite things about this time of year.

It’s also stifling hot in Arizona, which means I keep cooking to a bare minimum. Salads, soups made in the blender, grilled veggies, crock pot meals, and smoothies are so easy to prepare, and don’t heat up the kitchen.

Fresh Three Bean and Corn Salad | Grow Eat Glow

Whether you’re making a salad-for-dinner, potluck dish, or flavorful and filling lunch for the week, Fresh Three Bean and Corn Salad is your answer!  It’s easy to throw together, and is perfect on its own or as a side dish.  It’s pretty and colorful, and contains amazingly healthy herbs like parsley, oregano, and mint.  And the combination of herbs, garlic, and lemon is seriously refreshing!

I was first introduced to this salad at a work potluck.  Did I eat more than my share of this delightfulness?  Yes.  Yes I did.

With mint lodged between my teeth, I begged my coworker for her amazing recipe.  She graciously shared it (and informed me of my mint situation.  Thank you, Victoria!).  The original recipe can be found here.

Are you ready to make this delightful salad?  Here’s what you’ll need:

Fresh Three Bean and Corn Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Serving Size: 8

Fresh Three Bean and Corn Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz can) kidney beans
  • 1 (15 oz can) black beans
  • 1 (15 oz can) cannelloni beans
  • 2 ears corn on the cob (uncooked), or 15 oz can corn
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Drain and rinse all beans.
  2. Cut the kernels off the corn cobs, or rinse and drain the corn if using canned.
  3. Combine beans, corn, tomato, and onion in large bowl. Lightly toss.
  4. Combine garlic, oregano, mint, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and maple syrup in small bowl. Whisk and season with salt and pepper. Add the dressing to bean/corn mixture and stir.
  5. Refrigerate before serving.

Notes

Longer refrigeration time will allow the flavors to blend.

http://www.groweatglow.com/recipes/dinner-recipes/salad/fresh-three-bean-and-corn-salad/

 Do you cook differently in the summer?  Are there certain “cooling” ingredients you’re drawn to when it’s hot outside?  Drop me a line, I’d love to hear how you beat the heat in the kitchen!

I link up to these fun link parties!

~Christi

Got Hypothyroidism? Here’s What You Need to Know

You’re exhausted yet you have trouble sleeping at night.  You can’t lose weight no matter how much you diet and exercise.  You’re always constipated, and annoyed with everyone around you.  If this sounds like your day to day life, you could be one of the 20 million Americans with a thyroid disorder (American Thyroid Association).

If you’ve been diagnosed or believe you may have hypothyroidism, there are steps you can take to support your body systems.  Even if you’re taking medication for your condition, it’s crucial to supply the body with certain nutrients that are often deficient in individuals with an under-active thyroid gland.

What does the thyroid do?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland found at the base of the neck. This small gland is responsible for a number of critical body functions, including metabolism, body temperature, heart function, weight, fertility, blood pressure, and energy levels.

The thyroid works with other endocrine glands. Signals are sent between these glands and tell the thyroid when to produce hormones (T4 and T3). T4 needs to convert to T3, which is the “active hormone”. This conversion takes place mainly in the liver and tissues (Bauman, 2015).

What is hypothyroidism?

Issues arise when there is a disruption in gland communication, when the body doesn’t convert T4 to active T3, and/or when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. This is called hypothyroidism, and affects the entire body. Because the thyroid is responsible for so many body functions, day-to-day life can be deeply affected by this condition.

Got Hypothyroidism? Here's What You Need to Know|Grow Eat Glow

Is Hashimoto’s the same as hypothyroidism?

No. Also known as autoimmune thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid. This causes inflammation and leads to an underactive thyroid gland. Antibodies eventually destroy the thyroid. A person may have Hashimoto’s disease but not be hypothyroid. In fact, it’s not uncommon for an individual with Hashimoto’s to cycle between hypo- and hyperthyroidism (Shoman, 2014).

What factors lead to hypothyroidism?

  • Hashimoto’s (most common cause)
  • Treatment for hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer
  • Stress and elevated cortisol levels
  • Certain medications (lithium, birth control, anti-thyroid)
  • Certain vitamin/mineral deficiencies: iodine, tyrosine, zinc, iron, selenium, copper, A and B vitamins (Bauman, 2015)

Food and Your Thyroid

Eating organic, fresh, seasonal, local, and unprocessed food is essential, especially when healing the body. Pesticides, antibiotics, and chemicals found in conventional/processed foods delay the healing process and Got Hypothyroidism? Here's What You Need to Know|Grow Eat Glowpromote disease.

Protein – eat organic and free-range meat/eggs. Commercial meat (and dairy) contains antibiotics, which disrupt the thyroid. Try to eat plant or animal protein with each meal to keep blood sugar stable and energy up.

Healthy Fats and Oils – avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, raw butter, nuts, and seeds.

Fruits/Vegetables – eat a colorful variety of fruits and veggies (5-9 servings per day).

Herbs – black pepper, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cilantro, cinnamon, mint, parsley, and rosemary are warming and help raise the body’s metabolism.

Sea Vegetables – an excellent source of iodine and trace minerals. Sea veggies include agar agar, bladderwrack, dulse, hijiki, kombu, nori, and wakame. These can be taken as a supplement or enjoyed in a salad or as a wrap.

Foods to Avoid

Gluten – new evidence reveals a link between thyroid conditions and gluten intolerance due to similarities between gluten molecules and thyroid tissue (Kresser, 2010). Learn more about gluten here.

Iodized Salt – table salt is processed, bleached, and stripped of minerals. Instead, use Pink Himalayan salt, which is unprocessed and includes 84 trace minerals the body needs.

Soy – soy is disruptive to the endocrine system, known to negatively affect estrogen, and most soy is genetically modified. Acceptable soy foods are fermented and include tempeh, natto, and miso (Bauman, 2015).

Junk Food/Processed Food – ingredients cause inflammation and inhibit conversion of T4 to T3.

Aspartame – also known as Equal or Nutrasweet, chemicals in this sugar alternative may cause thyroid malfunction. Use stevia, honey, or maple syrup to sweeten instead (lowthyroiddiet.com).

What About Goitrogens?

Goitrogens interfere with iodine uptake, which is essential for thyroid function. There is much debate whether or not “goitrogenic” foods affect thyroid function. Peanuts, millet, soy and cruciferous foods are considered goitrogenic. Most soy should be avoided for the reasons mentioned above. Cruciferous foods such as kale, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, etc. must be consumed raw and in large quantities (more than 4 cups per day) to affect an individual with an existing thyroid condition. If you’re worried about eating cruciferous veggies, cooking or lightly steaming will remove goitrogenic compounds (whfoods.com).

Nutritional Support

Balancing hormones is a priority when healing a thyroid issue.  Because certain vitamins and minerals are lacking in hypothyroidism, it’s important to eat foods high in these nutrients and supplement when necessary.  What you eat has a big impact on your road to recovery.

  • Essential Fatty Acids – 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day. Foods include flaxseeds, walnuts, sardines, salmon, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Vitamin B Complex – may be included in multivitamin or take a Vitamin B complex supplement. The B vitamins work together and are found in a variety of vegetables and animal protein.
  • Magnesium – 200 mg 2x per day. Foods include dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, beans, and lentils.
  • Selenium – 200 mcg for 3 months. Foods include Brazil nuts, fish, crimini mushrooms, oats, sunflower seeds, and brown rice.
  • Iodine – avoid bromine, chlorine and fluoride, which deplete iodine. Use supplements under a physician’s guidance. Foods include seaweed, wild caught seafood, and Pink Himalayan salt.
  • Vitamin D3 – 1,000 – 5,000 IU per day. Beef, liver, cheese, egg yolks, and fatty fish are good sources of this vitamin. Sunlight is the best way to get your Vitamin D.
  • L-Tyrosine – 500 mg 2x per day. Egg whites, salmon, turkey breast, seaweed and mustard greens are great food sources.
  • Zinc – 30 – 50 mg of chelated form per day if deficient. Foods include oysters, organic beef, sesame and pumpkin seeds, and crab (Bauman 2015).

Lifestyle SupportGot Hypothyroidism? Here's What You Need to Know|Grow Eat Glow

Stress has a big impact on the endocrine system, particularly the thyroid and adrenal glands. Additionally, it’s common for individuals with a thyroid condition to also have issues with adrenal function (the glands that control how we respond to stress).  It’s important to reduce stress in order to allow the body to heal. Yoga, meditation, exercise, journal writing, acupuncture, getting at least 8 hours of sleep, and even talking with a therapist are ways we can reduce stress and nourish our body, mind, and spirit (Bauman 2015).

Sources:

American Thyroid Association. Retrieved on June 6, 2015 from http://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/.

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2015). Therapeutic Nutrition, Part 1. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College.

Kresser, C. (2010). The Gluten-Thyroid Connection.  Retrieved from http://chriskresser.com/the-gluten-thyroid-connection/.

Low Thyroid Diet. Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid. Retrieved on March 16, 2015 from http://lowthyroiddiet.com

Shoman, M. (2014). Hashimoto’s vs. Hypothyroidism: What’s the Difference? Retrieved from http://thyroid.about.com

World’s Healthiest Foods. Retrieved on March 16, 2015 from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=250

Broiled Grapefruit and a Spring Luncheon

Spring.  A time to plant gardens, bare arms and legs, spring clean, and enjoy the outdoors.  It’s a season of renewal and growth, for the earth as well as us humans.  Spring is the time to shed our winter coats, heavy boots and sweaters, as well as old thoughts and habits that no longer serve us.  Release the old and welcome the new!

Spring also means new seasonal produce.  As I’ve progressed through my whole foods journey, I notice that I instinctively crave lighter foods that energize rather than weigh me down as the weather warms up.  What about you?  Do your food choices change with the seasons?

Broiled Grapefruit and a Spring Luncheon|Grow Eat Glow

Last week I hosted a simple luncheon for two special friends, Myda and Ana.  Let me just take a moment to tell you how much I adore these girls.  Deep conversations into the early morning hours.  Feeling connected.  Joyful.  Supportive.  Positive.  Authentic.  Beautiful inside and out!  Every girl should have friends like these.

I decided to serve them my latest recipe – Purple Cabbage Kale Salad.  This delicious, nutrient-packed salad is very simple – kale, purple cabbage, carrots, and sunflower seeds with a lemony horseradish mustard dressing.  I beefed it up by adding roasted sweet potato and eggplant, which was a perfect addition!

Broiled Grapefruit and a Spring Luncheon|Grow Eat Glow

I also had fun making a special lunch for Ana’s son.  His meal consisted of cheese wrapped in ham, orange slices, gluten free crackers, and almonds mixed with chocolate and yogurt covered raisins.

I just love those little kid trays with the separate compartments. They remind me of the school lunch trays from the ’70s.  Even though my boys are way too old for these trays, I have a few on hand for little guests.

Isn’t he a sweetheart?  That face.

Broiled Grapefruit and a Spring Luncheon|Grow Eat Glow

Dessert was also light and simple.  A Boot Camp friend gifted me with several grapefruits from her bountiful citrus trees.  I drizzled the grapefruit with honey and sprinkled chopped basil over the top.  Then I broiled the grapefruit for a few minutes, until the edges turned golden brown.

I’m not too shy to say that it was amazingly good and refreshing!

Broiled Grapefruit and a Spring Luncheon|Grow Eat Glow

If you’re not into grapefruit because of the tartness, give this recipe a try.  Broiling the fruit mellows that tart taste, and the honey adds the perfect amount of sweetness.  It’s yummy, simple, and makes a beautiful dessert presentation!

Broiled Grapefruit and a Spring Luncheon

Broiled Grapefruit and a Spring Luncheon

Ingredients

  • Grapefruit (1/2 grapefruit per person)
  • Honey (1 teaspoon per person)
  • Basil, chopped

Instructions

  1. Turn on broiler to low setting.
  2. Cut grapefruit in half and place on baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle honey and basil over grapefruit halves.
  4. Broil, checking every 30 seconds or so until the edges are golden brown.
  5. Serve immediately.
http://www.groweatglow.com/lifestyle/inspiration/broiled-grapefruit-and-a-spring-luncheon/

 I link up to these fun parties!

~Christi

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