The holiday season is a wonderful time of year often spent gathering with loved ones. It is also one of the most stressful times of the year. Now that the holidays are over, we can all work on reducing the stress in our lives. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on our stress (adrenal) glands, which provide for us one of our major stress response hormones – cortisol. Common signs of adrenal fatigue include brain fog, weight gain, decreased sex drive, chronic fatigue, and cravings. Here are some tips to keep humming along after the holidays:
Getting adequate sleep is necessary for a long list of vital bodily functions. Help yourself get the full night of sleep your body deserves by removing all electronics from your bedroom (including that TV). Invest in blackout curtains or a sleeping mask if your room isn’t completely dark and aim for 8 hours of sleep or more every night. If you wake and want to hit the snooze button then you’re not getting enough sleep.
Start your day with breakfast before 10am, including adequate protein and healthy fats, which will help regulate your blood sugar throughout the day. Round your breakfast out with a couple servings of vegetables and a handful of berries. Incorporating a natural, whole foods-based diet in favor of high glycemic foods like a stack of pancakes drowned with syrup or a bowl of cereal can make a world of difference.
Coffee and other stimulants: Cortisol is part of our natural stress response, but when we constantly supplement with coffee and other stimulants it can confuse our body and actually reduce that stress response. If you depend on that morning cup of jo, then you’re probably doing more harm than good. Try eliminating it for three to four weeks. The first couple of days may be a challenge, but most find the end result liberating and invigorating.
HIITs > Long Duration Cardio
Cardio is great in moderation, but keep in mind that long duration cardio is pro-inflammatory and can cause an increase in cortisol and tissue break down (like your muscles and your cartilage). Lean muscle is vital for strong bones and proper hormone regulation including boosting libido, keeping insulin levels low, and balancing blood sugar. Give maximum effort for 30 seconds, and then rest for 90 seconds. Repeat x8. Lift heavy stuff, your body will thank you. For more information check this out: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2014/09/26/intermittent-fasting-hiit-workout.aspx.
You adrenal fatigue symptoms may be part of a larger problem such as a genetic defect. Genetic mutations to the methylenetetrahydrafolate-reductase (MTHFR) gene can cause poor metabolism of food into energy and may require specific supplementation. Mutations such as this are far more common than realized and both the lab work to find out and the intervention are relatively inexpensive. Supplementation for this genetic defect is readily available with a Naturopathic doctor.
I believe these are some of the first steps in restoring your adrenal health and with that, lowering your stress level. When taken as a whole, you may be well on your way towards a healthier, better you!
Author: Dr. Brian Myers
Dr. Brian Myers is a naturopathic primary care doctor with a focus on integrative medicine, pediatrics and natural foot health at the Live Well Clinic in La Quinta. 760-771-5970