Schools out and so bring on the good weather please!
What ever you are doing over summer, I hope you are spending quality time with your family and making time for some self-care too. The ‘me’ time is quite a novel concept to a recovering workaholic such as myself, although it has become more and more important as I step up the pace with my career, writing and business not to mention the over 40yrs hormone fluctuations!
Adrenal burn out
I would say that the main hormone producing glands that can be disrupted in this present society comprising of over work and a toxic environment, even with a generally healthy whole foods lifestyle, are the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are responsible for the regulation of many processes including metabolism and managing stress.
The adrenals are two glands located on top of your kidneys producing cortisol which supports the regulation of metabolism and of course our stress response. Then there is also adrenaline produced to support our reaction to stress. The adrenals also produce a small amount of sex hormones and aldosterone which helps regulate blood pressure.
The ‘fight or flight’ response as with other general inbuilt systems is not set up for the influx of consistent daily stress we often put ourselves under. Such is life that the adrenals can take a huge hit from the constant stress, and therefore we can suffer symptoms from what is often termed as ‘Adrenal fatigue’. These can include just some or all of the following: anxiety, low energy levels, mild depression, low immunity – colds and flu, the feeling of getting out of bed and carrying out small tasks taking more effort, feeling cold, feeling dizzy when standing up, low tolerance, changeable bowel movements, intolerance to foods etc.
Note: The adrenal burn out must not be confused with ‘Addison’s disease – this is where the adrenal glands are not working and is often a case of autoimmune disfunction.
Main causes of adrenal fatigue
We think of stress as being about how much work we take on or emotional such as grief. Although these on their own can certainly cause the adrenal to function less optimally and get you to late stages of adrenal fatigue, major contributors are also poor diet, too much high intensity exercise, environmental toxins, insufficient or poor quality sleep and too many stimulants such as coffee and tea.
10 tips to support or avoid burn out
The following are steps to take if you think you may have adrenal fatigue or maybe even the beginning stages:
- Keep your blood sugars steady and avoid fasting as this is hard on the adrenals – Focus on eating plenty of veggies and mix protein, fat and fibre at each meal or snack – try to eat your evening meal before 6pm
- Add sea or Himalayan salt to your foods (If your blood pressure is not high) – adds much needed minerals to your body
- Avoid high starchy foods such as white rice and potatoes – consume starchy foods at evening meal only
- Avoid refined sugars and processed foods
- Consume oily fish 3 times a week and or take an omega 3 supplement daily
- Eat foods to support your adrenals which include greens, chia, pumpkin and flaxseed/linseed, high quality dark chocolate
Add some low impact strength exercise into your exercise routine – Yoga is fantastic and will combine the relaxation, toning and the strength
- Breathe – take 5- 15 minutes each day when you can be still, reflect and breath. Breathing deeply and adding a count of in for 4, hold 4 and out for 4 is a way to relax your whole body
- If you have a healthy mainly whole foods lifestyle you may find adaptogenic herbs really helpful. Liquorice root and ashwaghanda are both used by many clinicians to support the adrenals
- You are enough – remembering there is no such thing as perfection – your own perception and expectations often lead to the most stress, give yourself a break…
The above are ten tips to get you on your way, but I wanted to add a little extra pointer that is not usually mentioned with adrenal fatigue but has become a factor in my life as a busy working mum. There are many scientists working on the theory of ego depletion (I actually met Stefanie Salmon, once such researcher at Den Haag in January) and the fact that the more decisions we have to make on a daily basis, gradually makes us less effective as the day progresses.
So, have a think which decisions could you take out of your morning i.e. what can you make automatic or put in place the night before to avoid the depletion of your self control or decision making skills, for example:
1. Can you choose your outfit the night before or have a specific outfit for a specific day?
2. Can you have the same healthy breakfast Monday to Friday or at least have it prepared the night before e.g. chia pudding?
3. Could you make your lunches a few days in advance?
Amazing and easy recipe alert!
Passionately spicy falafel
I was 19 years old when I first tasted my first falafel. It was in Australia, Cairns to be exact and I was hooked – YUM! Bearing in mind I was brought up in a very traditional working class family, and the multicultural foods of Australia were just amazing to me. The great thing about falafel is they are so flexible, you can adapt them to your taste e.g. more spicy, less spicy, adding different spices and ingredients such as spinach, chipotle, butternut squash, pumpkin etc.
I made these last night for an evening with the ladies and so thought I would post them in order to inspire you to have a go if you haven’t already. They are not only delicious they are a great protein source and are packed with nutrients to support a healthy mind and body. Serve with salad and dips or roasted veggies and or sweet potato wedges.
- 1 tin of chickpeas drained/250g of dried chickpeas soaked overnight
- 3 tbsp of gluten free oats – blend them to make them into a flour like consistency
- a little olive oil or avocado oil for frying off before baking
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp tahini
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp cumin
spice options – add all or some:
1 tsp coriander or a few handfuls of fresh coriander
a quarter thumb of fresh chillies or chipotle
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
optional: a handful of roasted butternut squash
- Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and keep blitzing until the mixture comes together
- Form the mixture into balls and fry lightly in a pan with a little olive oil for a few minutes each side
- Place the falafel onto a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees C
As always I hope you have find some tips you can incorporate into your life. I hope that you find some time for you, to get out in nature, meditate and breathe.
Lots of love and light,