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Miss Nutritionist was founded by Rosie Millen who trained at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition. Graduating with a Diploma in Nutritional Therapy she is a fully qualified nutritionist therapist.
Are your adrenal glands stressed out?
There are two adrenal glands which are our stress glands situated on top of the kidneys. They are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response through the synthesis of numerous hormones. Healthy adrenal glands secrete a number of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These allow our bodies to deal with physical and emotional stress.
Every time we experience stress the adrenal glands release cortisol into the blood stream so that we can deal with the fight or flight response. However if we are exposed to significant amounts of stress over a long period of time then these delicate glands can become exhausted and not work as efficiently.
The Stress Response:
When we experience physical or mental stress the adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream to prepare us for the stress. The heart beats faster, pupils dilate and sugar is sent to the muscles to deal with the stress. There are three stages of stress:
1) The alarm stage
This is the initial stage of stress. This stage experiences an over acting of the sympathetic nervous system where adrenaline and cortisol increase and blood flows away from the brain to the muscles.
2) The resistance stage
Overtime, if you are under constant stress your adrenal glands continually release adrenaline and cortisol to deal with it. They are going to full efforts to cope with the situation and often you can start to feel irritated and pressured.
3) The exhaustion stage
This is where the adrenal glands have been so over worked that they no longer function efficiently and optimally. They are exhausted which means the body can’t cope with anymore stress. As a result the person can feel exhausted, weak, burnt out and depressed.
Symptoms of Adrenal Dysfunction
Difficulty falling asleep
Dizziness when standing up suddenly (especially in the morning out of bed)
Slow starter in morning
Clenching or grinding teeth
Poor appetite (no breakfast)
Digestive issues (low HCl, IBS…)
PMS, menstrual problems
Poor memory and concentration
Insomnia, poor sleep
Inability to deal with stress
Weight gain (around the middle)
Poor exercise tolerance and exhaustion afterwards
Lower back pain
If you suspect you have adrenal fatigue or would like to test your adrenal glands and stress levels then there is an easy saliva test you can do for £70.
Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 3719 032 and we can send you a test kit.
How to Support Your Adrenals!
Diet – Blood Sugar Balancing (cornerstone of adrenal support)
- Eat little and often – about every 3-4 hours
- 3 main meals with snacks in between
- Avoid refined carbohydrates
- Increase whole grains
- Good quality protein at each meal and snack
- Increase high fibre foods (water soluble especially as slows digestion, absorption of carbohydrates, increase cell sensitivity to insulin)
- Increase essential fats such as oily fish, avocados nuts and seeds.
- Drink enough water/fluids
- Avoid stimulants –alcohol, tea, coffee, cola drinks, chocolate, cigarettes
Foods to Avoid
Caffeine is a stimulant and can cause irritability and lead to over stimulation of the adrenal glands so the body is less able to cope with stress. It can prevent the absorption of some essential nutrients – zinc and iron.
Alcohol – Excessive intake depletes many vitamins and minerals which can impair the detoxification process of the liver and cause adrenal stimulation.
Sugar in excess impairs the function of the adrenal glands and has been linked with suppressing the immune system.
When under stress your body requires more B vitamins which are involved in protecting the nervous system. As they are not stored in the body they must be taken in sufficient amounts at all times. Supplementation of a B complex is important for energy production. Good food sources of the B vitamins are yeast extract, green leafy vegetables, eggs, salmon and whole grains.
Vitamin C – 2-3g per day
Vitamin C is vital to help the body cope with stress. Large amounts of vitamin C are stored in the adrenal glands and levels are significantly reduced when one is under stress. Good sources are from fresh fruit and vegetables. A daily supplementation of at least 1000mg of vitamin C per day should be recommended too.
Zinc – 15mg per day
Zinc is necessary for the production of the adrenal hormones and it is therefore extremely important to ensure optimum levels of zinc are maintained in the body. Zinc is often lacking in today’s diets and therefore a zinc supplement could well prove extremely beneficial.
Magnesium – 300 mg per day
Magnesium helps to reduce the risk of adrenal exhaustion from chronic stress. It is essential for production of enzymes and energy needed in adrenal cascade. It is key in blood sugar control. It also helps to relax the nerves which can be very helpful in maintaining nervous health.
Herbs to Help Stress
Siberian Ginseng maintains adrenal function by supporting and rejuvenating adrenal function. It is an adaptagen meaning it either helps to increase or decrease cortisol and DHEA. It has calming effects.
Liquorice Root can help anxiety disorders and encourage restful sleep. It increases energy and can raise cortisol levels. It also helps decrease symptoms of hypoglycemia.
Adrenal cell extracts from bovine or porcine can help to restore adrenal function which is useful in adrenal fatigue/exhaustion. It encourages the secretion of a variety of adrenal hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenalin.
Stress can play havoc with the digestive system by inhibiting digestive enzymes. This can lead to indigestion, bloating, gas, heartburn, constipation or diarrhoea. Supplementing digestive enzymes prior to, or during a meal, can help to eradicate some of the problematic symptoms.
- Stress Management – meditation, prayer, deep breathing
- Time management –learn to say “no”
- “Me time” – pamper yourself, massage, relaxation, hobbies
- Enhance and cherish important relationships – family, friends, better communication
- Identify “energy robbers” in your life – person, place, environment, work
- Appropriate exercise – regular but not excessive – tai chi, yoga, pilates, walking, swimming.
Lisa has been competing in the bikini division with the NPC organization since July 2011 and fell in love with it. Competing keeps her body in the best condition it can possibly be in and keeps her laser focused on eating 6 healthy meals a day. She has 2 children that are competitive athletes, so it is important to teach them how to take care of their body for maximum performance. She works a full time job as a pharmaceutical representative. Excuses are not apart of her lifestyle. She is striving to be a professional athlete in the IFBB league and to be an internationally published fitness model.
So many times I have been asked the question “Lisa what do I buy at the grocery store? You say to eat 4-6 clean meals a day to boost metabolism and lose weight but what exactly is an example of a clean meal?” So I thought I would share my staple grocery list of things that I buy every single time I am at the grocery store and recommend some great cookbooks that support clean eating that I keep on hand for fresh ideas for my family as well as myself. Just so you know I am a mother of 2 and a full time pharmaceutical representative so I have to plan ahead and keep fresh veggies and fruit on hand to pack in my cooler. I typically go to the grocery store once a week for my staples and end up going again later in the week. Both of my children are athletes and I feed them like they are training for the Olympics next week so that requires multiple trips to the grocery store sometimes
Here is my staple grocery list: Apples, Strawberries, Bananas, Blueberries, Broccoli, Zuchinni, Radishes, Cucumbers, Lemons, Limes, Egg whites, Vegetatrian fed eggs, Sweet Potatoes, Brown Rice, Almonds, Pistachios, Cashews, Cranberries, Oatmeal, Rice cakes, Natural Peanut Butter, Stevia, Tuna, Salmon, Scallops, Chia Seeds, Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, Sesame Oil, Coconut Oil, Black beans, Quinoa, Spinach, Romaine
Now this is not my total grocery list keep in mind I have a family. If I lived alone this would be my entire list. These are the items that I keep on hand so that I do not run out of healthy options and have to eat fast food. So now you are probably wondering what I do with some of these items. Lets start with fruit.
Apples, Strawberries, Blueberries, and Bananas I eat in the morning for breakfast with egg whites and almond milk. They are also packed in my childrens’ lunches for the fiber and carbohydrate content. I typically wash and cut up a big bowl of strawberries and set them on the counter and when my kids come in from practice they see the fruit first and will eat it!
Broccoli, Zuchinni, Radishes, Cucumbers I like to eat raw, uncooked. So I cut up all my vegetables and mix them together in a big bowl. Add a dash of pepper and drizzle with sesame oil. I put this in 6 small containers and refrigerate. These are packed in my cooler for the week for me to eat while I am on the road. Spinach and Romaine I use for salads at dinner. I sprinkle Chia seeds on salad for my family for the nutritional benefits. Chia seeds are a powerhouse nutritional source, loaded with fiber and protein. Chia seeds can be used many many ways be creative.
Brown rice, sweet potatoes, black beans, quinoa are my carbohydrate sources that I pack in individual containers as well for my cooler. These are also the staples I cook for dinner with grilled salmon, seared scallops, and grilled tuna. My daughters favorite meal is spinach salad with seared scallops. Oatmeal I eat in the morning for breakfast as well and mix in 1 teaspoon coconut oil for some good healthy fat!
Snacks can be the detrimental part of anyone’s diet. So I make my own trail mix in large plastic bags for the entire family. Almonds, Cashews, Dried banana chips, Pistachios, and Cranberries is a great mixture to start with. I have also added in dried mango and papaya but make sure you only eat 1/4 cup of trail mix a day if you are trying to lose weight. Another snack for me is rice cakes with peanut butter.
I drink 1 gallon of water a day and sometimes I like to have some flavor. I juice lemon and lime and the pulp and add stevia (plant based sweetener) to give myself a change to get my water in.
Well I hope this helps you in your grocery shopping! Please feel free to reach out to me with comments and success stories!!!