Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nourishing the Adrenals

Adrenal Health

·      The adrenal glands are small, 1-2 inch pyramid shaped glands that sit like a cap on top of the kidneys
·      The center of the adrenal gland, the medulla, makes the hormones adrenaline.
·      The outer part of the adrenals, the cortex, makes the hormones cortisol, DHEAs, aldosterone, and small amounts of the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone.
·      These hormones regulate sodium/potassium balance, raise blood sugar levels, regulate vasodilation/vasoconstriction and secrete sex hormones
·      The adrenals help out with body temperature regulation, blood sugar levels, and immune function as well as with the “fight or flight” response, those minute-to-minute stresses we experience. 

Adrenal Fatigue

·      Adrenal Fatigue is often expressed as suboptimal health with a variety of non-specific symptoms such as weakness and lack of vitality that are difficult to explain. Most cases of Adrenal Fatigue are mild, with a full recovery after rest, and often go undetected.

·      However, many familiar conditions can be related to Adrenal Fatigue, including asthma, allergies, bronchitis, chronic cough, sensitivities, sleep problems, muscle weakness and back pain, IBS, depression, post natal depression, diabetes, hypotension, estrogen dominance, obesity, hypothyroidism, heart palpitations, eating disorders, and Auto-Immune Diseases.

·      An imbalance of the Ovarian, Adrenal and Thyroid (OAT) hormonal axis can lead to symptoms such as PMS, low body temperature, endometriosis, PCOS, cystic breast, menstrual irregularities, fibroids suggestive of ovarian dysfunction and estrogen dominance; dry skin, weight gain, fatigue, low energy, hyothyroid issues in spite of taking medications; salt craving, frequent infection, hypoglycemia, insomnia, and anxiety.

·      Someone whose adrenals are working poorly may be unable to tolerate cold, and stay cold for hours even when back in the warmth. Folks often suffer from hypoglycemia as the adrenals boost blood sugar in between meals. They may be irritable, depressed, have abandonment issues, feel very anxious, and suffer, out of proportion, from daily stress.  Other signs of adrenal fatigue could be an addiction to coffee and other stimulants, cravings for salty and sweet foods, and excessive thirst.

Simple dietary and lifestyle adjustments are the natural and gentle way to nourish and support the adrenals.

Dietary Suggestions within a Plant Based Diet

o   Include a wide variety of green leafy vegetables cooked in different ways such as steamed, blanched, lightly sautéed.
o   Make sure to have about half your diet vegetables including all kinds of sea vegetables like kombu, dulse, wakame, arame, hiziki and nori.
o   Include fresh herbs and sprouts on a daily basis
Use a variety of fresh vegetables
o   Eat nuts and seeds – sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, walnuts, almonds – small amount of peanuts can help.
o   Choose whole grains
o   Mushrooms are helpful especially dried shiitake
o   Have a higher portion of vegetable quality protein – beans, tofu, tempeh, natto
o   Beans are very helpful – include chickpeas, aduki beans, and kidney beans cooked into a soup or stew with vegetables.
o   Good quality oil is important on a daily basis – sesame or olive.
o   Use ginger as a seasoning
o   Mild sweet foods such as pureed sweet vegetable soups are good
o   Include a variety of root vegetables in your diet – parsnips, daikon, carrots, burdock, lotus root or turnips.
o   Drink a comfortable amount of water and other herbal teas including Mu tea.

For those with a more serious condition, it might be necessary (in addition to a plant-based diet) and for a short while to;

·      Eat deep-ocean fish
·      Have fish in soup or a stew
·      Include sardines.
·      Make a soup broth with a marrow bone (grass fed), and lots of vegetables - I only mention this because it is known that bones are very nourishing to the adrenal glands.
·      Include – Siberian ginseng, garlic and licorice root in small amounts
·      Get B12 checked or take a supplement

It is important to Avoid
o   White flour, sugar, sodas and refined foods
o   Caffeine
o   Alcohol
o   Smoking
o   Environmental toxins
o   Overly salty foods
o   Stressful relationships or situations
1.     Exercise is very important but only those that are energizing and don’t cause fatigue.  Walking in nature, gentle stretching, cleaning, or the body rub are good examples.
2.     Learn to manage stress – writing, meditation, breathing exercises.
3.     Watch funny movies and laugh with friends.
4.     Spend time outside in the sun.
5.     Do something fun each day.
6.     Get lots of rest.
7.     Take an Epsom salt bath.
8.     Place a hot water bottle on lower back.
9.     Shiatsu and chiropractic adjustments can be very helpful
10. While showering, a quick burst of cold water on the lower back can be stimulating
11. Ginger/salt footbath.

Spend time outdoors daily

Here are 2 remedies that will add a zip to your adrenals:

Adrenal Drink

¼ cup aduki beans soaked
½ cup dried daikon soaked
2 shiitake soaked and sliced
1 inch strip kombu
5 cups spring water

Place all the ingredients into a pan.
Bring to a boil on a medium flame.
Simmer for about 25 minutes.
Remove ingredients and drink the broth.

Kinpira Soup

This hearty soup is very good for vitality, strengthening blood and calming emotions

I carrot cut into matchsticks
1 burdock cut in matchsticks
1/2 cup winter squash cut into chunks
1 onion diced
1/2 cup cabbage sliced
4-6 cups water
1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon wakame flakes
1 heaping teaspoon barley rice miso
1 heaping teaspoon white miso

Place the oil in a pan and heat. Add the burdock and sauté for a few minutes. Add the carrot and continue to sauté. Cover with water and bring to a boil.
Cover with a lid and simmer on a low flame for 10 minutes.
Add the winter squash, cabbage and onion and continue to cook until the vegetables become soft – 10 minutes or so.
Add the rest of the water and wakame.
Return to a boil and add the diluted miso.
Cook on a low flame for 3 minutes.
Serve garnished with a little ginger and scallions

And, please be sensible - if you do have serious symptoms, always seek professional advice x

Enjoy and have fun xx

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