Love your adrenals, part 3
I love the natural health industry (and Life Coaching!) because it encourages self empowerment and better quality of life. There are plenty of ways we can cause too much stress in our lives but equally plenty of ways we can combat it.
In recent blogs the topic has been our overworked adrenals, what goes wrong and how to support them. We seek out herbs or supplements to combat stress but the only long term solution is a holistic approach which deals with the underlying cause of stress physically, mentally and emotionally.
With this in mind today’s blog focuses on physical improvements we can make through basic dietary do’s and dont’s.
Dietary do's and dont's
Avoid: Leaving long gaps between meals.
Reason: when our blood sugar rises and falls too quickly our adrenals are taxed by having to work harder to help maintain the energy levels caused by the blood sugar drops.
Choose: regular healthy meals and snacks to maintain energy levels throughout the day. Ideally follow the old adage – breakfast like a king (before 10am), lunch like a queen (ideally by noon) and dine like a pauper (ideally by 6pm.) A nutritious snack at 3pm and just before bed is also key for energy maintenance. Eating larger meals earlier in the day supports our digestive system and our daily rhythms of cortisol. Too much food, too late, can interfere with sleep (which is key metaboliser of stress) and digestion as well as hormonal levels.
Avoid: reaching for biscuits, sugary snacks, alcohol, caffeine, fizzy drinks and even fruits high in sugar when you hit that energy low, especially on an empty stomach.
Reason: when we feel burnt out and tired and our blood sugar is running low, it’s too easy to reach for these quick fixes to get us going again. However, far from a quick fix, they provide a fast fail, giving an unsustained burst of energy followed by a blood sugar crash (not to mention hormonal interference) thus exacerbating the problem mentioned above.
- Fresh local, organic and whole foods, providing a greater intake of essential nutrients and limiting toxins and pollutants from pesticides etc (which add to the stressful load)
- Ideally eat a lean protein, a good quality fat and complex carbohydrate with every snack/meal to help stabilise blood sugars, put less strain on the body and nourish the adrenal glands
- Keep healthy snacks on hand to avoid reaching for sweet treats. Ask your local health food shop for suggestions.
- Choose foods that include nutrients vital to the nervous system e.g. B vitamins, Magnesium, Vitamin C etc (whole grains (brown rice, oats etc), green leafy vegetables, eggs, fish, chicken, beans, pulses, nuts, kiwi fruit, parsley, sprouted seeds which are an exceptional source of high quality nutrients
- If you are struggling with sweet treat cravings you could also add Craving essence if you find yourself seeking the ‘foodie emotional fix’.
Avoid: foods or substances to which you know or suspect you are allergic, sensitive or intolerant
Reason: allergens in the body increase the release of the inflammatory chemical histamine which in turn requires cortisol’s anti inflammatory effect to help combat it. Bearing in mind how much cortisol is already required in stressful situations, adding a physical stressor to the body is not going to create a happy adrenal environment!
Do: seek advice/tests from a healthcare practitioner to eliminate the suspected food/substance from your diet/daily life.
A note on salt
Salt cravings can be common when our adrenals are under stress. We have a steroid hormone called aldosterone which helps to maintain salt and water levels in the body as a way of regulating blood pressure.
When cortisol levels go up, as they do under stress, aldosterone levels go down. Some people with overworked adrenals can experience light headedness on getting up and symptoms of low blood pressure.
In these instances you may benefit from adding vegetables higher in sodium e.g. celery, kelp, courgettes, Swiss chard etc or sprinkle Herbamare (sea salt infused with 12 organic herbs and vegetables) on your food.
Stress can play havoc with emotions and mood and this in turn can lead to poor food choices. There is no benefit in being hard on yourself when this happens.
Instead of gloomily looking at your slip-ups and what you don’t want to do, keep positive and focus on the good you want to bring in. At the end of the day we are all human and not perfect (especially when stressed!) so if you can work towards an 80% healthy vs 20% human rule then you are doing brilliantly!