Florida Keys Business
Sunday, August 11, 2013
My Kitchen Rx: Stressed out?

Did you ever wake in the morning and wonder how you were going to get through your day? Are you tired, rundown and listless? Do you poop out at parties? Are you unpopular? Are you so busy with work that you have no time to eat, much less the energy to prepare something delicious and nutritious?

You might think I am pitching Vitameatavegamin, like in the "I Love Lucy" episode when Lucy does a television commercial.

But no, I'm talking about adrenal gland suppression. Many of us have it, but have absolutely no idea that our symptoms can be resolved with nutrition and lifestyle changes.

The adrenal glands are walnut-sized organs that sit on top of the kidneys. They play a vital role and provide several functions by secreting some 50 hormones that regulate blood sugar, sex hormones, blood pressure, immune and inflammatory responses and the "fight or flight" hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine. Properly functioning adrenals are essential for dealing with the everyday stress in our lives.

Adrenal disorders can have serious consequences but often go undiagnosed because the symptoms mimic other health conditions. Common adrenal gland suppression symptoms include: fatigue, lethargy, brain fog, increased colds and flus, hair loss, depression, decreased sex drive, darkness under the eyes, decreased night vision and insomnia or restless sleep. When your body is under constant stress your adrenals produce too much cortisol and that can damage body tissue and lead to stomach ulcers, high blood pressure and depleting white blood cell levels that are used to fight infections and low blood sugar. Plus, adrenal fatigue is one of the major factors contributing to thyroid hormone imbalance.

Everyone can experience adrenal stress at any given point in their life due to illness, life crisis or a continuing stressful situation either emotional, physical or both.

With our modern grab-and-go lifestyles we often reach for sugary and salty foods for fast energy and that leaves our bodies stressed and nutrition deprived. It is no wonder that Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) are becoming more prevalent.

The list of foods to avoid for adrenal support are similar to those of most other adverse health conditions:

•Refined sugars, simple carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, cookies, cakes and crackers and other processed foods.

• Chemical residues on vegetables (eat organic when available)

• Artificial sweeteners

• Excessive stimulants like caffeine, energy drinks and bars

• Excessive alcohol

You can help alleviate or prevent AFS and CFS by reducing stress, resting and eating whole foods. Organic vegetables, meats, legumes, nuts and fruits are the best choices. Eat breakfast that includes protein and fat like oatmeal with a full-fat plain yogurt, or eggs with organic butter, whole grain bread, grits greens and sausage.

Snacks should be high in protein and fats like nuts, seeds or trail mix. Foods higher in omega 3 like cold water fish and lightly cooked or sauteed vegetables should be eaten often. Eat whole grains such as brown rice, kasha, quinoa, polenta, and legumes. Include starchy vegetables like winter squash, parsnips or sweet potatoes. One of my favorite adrenal support recipes is my not- quite-but-gonna-be-famous "White Chili," visit www.mykitchenprescription.com for the recipe.

Remember digestion begins in the mouth, so chew your food at least 25-30 times before swallowing. Enzymes in saliva begin the digestion process and aid in the absorption of nutrients. Sit down when eating. Walking and running errands while eating creates stress. When stress levels are high, digestion slows down. Take time for yourself and try one of the following; Say grace or a silent prayer of thanks, take a few deep breaths, count to 10 or meditate a few minutes before a meal. Whatever method you choose, relax. Eating should be a conscious process that provides joy and satisfaction along with nourishment.

The demands of life can drain our adrenal glands of their balancing power. The small changes we make in our food choices and eating habits can make a difference in the demands we put on our adrenals. Reducing stress and taking the time to eat properly allows our bodies to digest wholesome foods to nourish our mind, body and soul. So before reaching for a pill or calling the doctor when you are run down and stressed, first try these nutritious and healthy lifestyle changes.

Your health is my business....


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