Topic of the day? Stress. But Megan, I swear I’m not stressed! I’m happy with my life, my job….pretty much everything, but still, I feel ‘off.’ Well let’s talk about the word stress. This is switching gears for a moment, but in the past we have talked about how the common phrase “all calories are created equal” is simply not true. Nope, I don’t buy it, but I’ll tell you something, when it comes to the topic of stress, it may ring a bit truer. Why? Let’s take a moment to re-think the word stress. It doesn’t have to be 14 hour work days, babies screaming at night or your in-laws coming to town. Stress has many faces, some that are elusive. It’s pretty easy, and actually quite common, to have chronic stress in your life and not even realize it. Your physiology plays a huge role.
Okay…so what’s that mean? Well, let’s take for example something like food sensitivities. Maybe you are aware (or aren’t) that your body simply does not like dairy, but you say ‘whatever’ and keep eating it anyway, because, hey, coffee loves its cream. Well what happens every time you eat something that your body can’t digest? Your immune system produces antibodies that are literally launching an attack. So, every time you ingest food sensitivities, your body is in a sense, going to war. That’s kind of stressful. Other physiological sources of stress, that can be silent contributors?
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
- Poor liver function (watch the alcohol!)
- Excess exercise (did you get kind of excited when you read that?)
- Gut pathogens and bacterial overgrowth
- Suppressed melatonin (turn the computer off)
Alright. So what’s tying all of these guys together? What’s the effect? Well they’re going to cause an imbalance in our ever important hormone, cortisol. This is our stress hormone produced by our adrenal gland. Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone and we can’t live without it! We need this guy, he is our friend, but too much or too little…that’s when things get hairy. When he gets upset, he has a tendency to make everyone around him upset. In a nutshell, he throws everything “off balance.” In fact, adrenal hormones balance all other hormones: insulin (blood sugar), thyroid, sex hormones and even your neurotransmitters. To balance these you must make him happy. Like a dictator, that guy.
Common symptoms of adrenal upheaval? We talked a lot about those in this post, but feeling tired but wired, inexplicable weight gain, sleeping problems, energy problems…kind of run the gamut.
It’s very easy for adrenal imbalance to get looked over. I know plenty of people, including myself, who searched for far too long for a solution to a problem they couldn’t quite put their finger on. With adrenal problems you can get into a sort of chasing your own tail situation, as it’s not black and white, like a broken leg or an injury. It’s more of a balance beam.
So what’s the plan of action then, how to make him happy? Well, first things first, clean up the diet. That’s going to immediately help alleviate issues with food sensitivities, balance blood sugar, clear out the liver and stop feeding those pesky gut bacteria. Biggest culprit? Sugar. Addicted to caffeine? Well, we have to work on that then. Smartest overall path? Focus your diet on plenty of lean protein (animal or plant based), fresh veggies, fruit and healthy fats. You want to be sure to get plenty of vitamin C, vitamin B6 & pantothenic acid. If things are happening on a deeper level – unknown food sensitivities, gut problems, well it may be time to work with professional to get to the bottom of that once and for all.
Okay, now what? You’ve got to address the stress in your life. Relax, talk a walk, do some stretching. Do you have to become a yogi? No (but cool if you want to). Just breathe. Set a reminder in your work calendar to take frequent 5 minute breaks no matter what. Turn off your computer before bed! Pick up that old hobby you loved; guitar, tango, French lessons…whatever gives your mind a break. Find something or someone funny – stay there.
Do you suspect you’ve got adrenal imbalances? You’re hearing what I’m saying but still feeling a little lost? Check out the program we’re offering at Prescribe Nutrition. Get Balanced is completely devoted to doing just that: getting balanced. This is for the long haul, to nourish those adrenal glands so your whole system can operate better. 15 days of digging deep into it. Find out more here.