November marks the beginning of Coachella Valley’s busiest season. The weather is perfect, streets are full of cars, and your calendar is booked solid through March. After months of long days, lack of sleep, and poor eating habits, it is just a matter of time before it takes a serious toll on your body.
You have two adrenal glands, each no bigger than a walnut, yet they are responsible for one of the most important functions in your body: managing stress. The adrenals are responsible for producing high levels of hormones that regulate blood pressure, mineral supply, stress reactions, metabolism, and maintaining energy levels alongside the thyroid. When the adrenals are over-stressed for prolonged periods of time, every body system is at risk for dysfunction. The symptoms we experience from chronic stress can generally be referred to as adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue comes in progressive phases; as the stress accumulates, the adrenals eventually lose their ability to produce sufficient amounts of the necessary hormones, which leads to complete adrenal exhaustion. This can cause problems such as sleep disorders, blood sugar imbalances, thyroid dysfunction, anxiety, and weight gain to name a few.
Dietary choices will play the key role in managing the effects of stress. Of course, fill your plates with as many vegetables as possible, but what over-taxed adrenals really crave are healthy fats and high quality protein. It is wise to listen to your body. Often those under stress crave fats and salt, which really is what your body needs. Stress depletes minerals, vitamins, and uses up protein and fats to nourish the adrenal glands. You can make healthy choices to address your cravings. Chose healthy fats such as salmon and avocado, and add sea salt to your meals to provide essential minerals you’re missing.
Ideally, you should avoid caffeine, sugar, alcohol, processed foods, and gluten-containing grains – all of which act as additional stressors to the body. Even limit the starchy and sugary vegetables and fruits, particularly bananas. If coffee is a must, have one cup in the morning as long as it is with a breakfast that contains protein and fat.
Adrenal fatigue affects millions around the world, yet it is not considered a conventional medical illness. At its worst, adrenal fatigue can take over a year to be resolved, even with proper diet and supplementation.
This season start saying “no” to as many events, projects, and activities as possible. Use that extra time for prioritizing sleep, exercise, spending time with loved ones, and preparing healthy meals. The top four supplements for combating adrenal fatigue are extra vitamin C, magnesium, and activated forms of B-vitamins. The body quickly burns all of these at high rates when under stress. During the most hectic times of the day, try adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha and holy basil. Other tips to nourish the adrenals: Sleep in when possible and eat well every 3-4 hours. Don’t skip meals! Making these few important lifestyle changes consistently will ensure you soar through the season.
Tiffany is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and can be reached at (760) 285.1221 www.GlutenFreeWithTiffany.com