So, I’ve had a bit on lately. It’s one of those situations where lots of opportunities come your way, and so you say “yes” to everything, and it’s all super fun and exciting and challenging….and exhausting! I am not complaining at all, but I am conscious enough to recognise that I need to put a few steps in place to make sure my brain doesn’t explode out of my skull which I was a bit worried about earlier today…
So, I thought I would write a quick post on adrenal fatigue – but I won’t go into great detail as I know we’ve all got smoothies to make, ha!
Our adrenals are lovely, small, walnut sized glands that hang out above our kidneys. They produce steroid hormones and help control our reaction to stress. The basic deal is that if we are stressed, a hormone called cortisol increases to help us to deal with it, and then returns to a baseline level. When cortisol rises, another hormone called aldosterone drops in order to lower our blood pressure slightly during this stressful time to keep us under control. Great! Our bodies can’t tell the difference between a lion attack, or the fact that you lost your car keys, and will respond physiologically the same way to different stressors. The problem is, this means that instead of short term lion attacks, we are responding this way long term to chronic modern day stressors like work, money, and figs only being in season for a short time… When we are chronically stressed, our adrenals are continually pumping out cortisol to cope – but there is only so far they can go. If our adrenals start to get tired, adrenalin comes to the party to pick up the slack and keep us going, but in an irritable and shaky way. We are on the exhaustion train. If this sound like you – this is your stop – get off the train!! Once you hit destination chronic fatigue, it’s a very long slow journey back.
So what can we do to nourish our adrenals?
Eat well. Regular, wholefood meals and snacks full of protein and healthy fats to keep blood sugar regulated.
Cut back on the caffeine – this will only stress the adrenals further and can interfere with sleep. If you do indulge, keep it to one in the morning.
Eat plenty of foods high in Vitamin C. Healthy adrenals are loaded with vitamin C to help them produce hormones, and if stocks start to plummet, so does the production of hormones. Humans can’t actually produce Vitamin C, so we need to get it through the diet. Some examples are papaya, strawberries, kiwi fruit, berries, red capsicum, broccoli, kale, pineapple and oranges.
B vitamins are gold for the nervous system – they are involved in the whole adrenal cascade.
Good quality sea salt. Aldosterone regulates electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, sodium). If levels remain at low levels because we have been stressed off our heads for weeks, the kidneys start to flush out extra salt, taking water with it and leading to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration – boo! The body tries to compensate for this – enter salt cravings. Instead of chowing down on a bag of chips, get some good quality sea salt like Celtic sea salt, and add a pinch to your food or drink to restore the balance. Good old saxa will not have the same effect as it is processed to within an inch of it’s life and is void of all the delicious minerals.
There are some beautiful herbs that we would use for the adrenals, including Licorice, Withania and some Ginsengs. Chat to your friendly natural health practitioner about these and others.
It’s really important that you get enough sleep. Aim to be in bed by 10.30pm, and go for 8 hours sleep.
Then there is the huge topic of rest, cutting back, and being realistic with your work load. Too big for today. These are just some general ideas. If you feel like you may be suffering form adrenal fatigue, please check in with your favourite natural health practitioner for some adrenal love.
Overnight Adrenal Loving Oats
1/2 cup rolled oats
100ml nut milk
A few shakes of cinnamon and nutmeg
1/4 tsp pure vanilla (optional)
1 kiwi fruit
1/4 cup strawberries/raspberries
A handful each of coconut flakes, pepitas and nuts of your choice – I used pistachios and cashews
Put the oats, milk, and spices into a glass or jar, and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning, pop the nuts, seeds and coconut flakes on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 5-10 mins on low. Remove from the oven and cool. Arrange the fruit, nuts and flakes on top – and that’s it!
Of course a porridge like this one below is just as nourishing, maybe add some extra kiwi to really bump up that vitamin C!
So this was my way of saying sorry for the infrequent posting, and that it will probably be that way for the next month. Again I haven’t done my post on gluten grains…but I want it to be a good one as it involves the work of Jude Blereau so I will just have to wait for that window of space to open up. And it’s 10.48pm so I am off to bed! x