This week the Meal Garden team got the scoop on all things 'Adrenal Glands' from fellow user and Naturopathic Doctor Salna Smith...
You awake to the abrupt BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! of your alarm clock. Sadly, snooze isn’t an option. You put your feet on the floor, go to stand up and a wave of dizziness hits you like it does everyday. Your foggy mind says ‘it’s ok, it’ll just be like this until we have a coffee’…and so the day begins. You hit the ground running as per usual – scrambling to get breakfast into hungry mouths, children dressed, schoolbags packed (not to mention YOU need to get ready) etc. etc. By the time you’re out the door your exhausted, frustrated and overwhelmed. Why does everyday have to start with me feeling so ‘on edge’? Is this the norm?
You could be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue. A condition that causes anything from feeling anxious, overwhelmed, depressed and exhausted to body aches, weight gain, worsened PMS, low libido and cravings for salty and fatty foods.
So what exactly is Adrenal Fatigue? First it’s necessary to know what the adrenal glands are and how they function to keep us healthy. Our adrenals are also known as our ‘stress glands’. They are tiny powerhouses that perch atop each kidney and work to manufacture cortisol and adrenaline. Both of these hormones are necessary to help us cope in times of stress (ie. Rushing through our morning routine) by providing us the energy we need to move through the stress. The problem arises when stressors in our lives accumulate (a busy home life, a job we don’t enjoy, relationships that are struggling, etc). And much like a tank of gas, these glands become depleted over time and instead of helping us cope with stress, their production of adrenaline becomes inconsistent and erratic, leaving us feeling like any new stress could likely be ‘the straw that breaks the camel’s back’ - leading to a breakdown or worse, burnout. A fast-paced, high-stress, fear based lifestyle is a recipe for adrenal exhaustion. I’m sure many can relate to falling somewhere on this spectrum.
Thankfully food is a fabulous means to begin to rebuild these glands and offer them some loving support. Certain foods contain nutrients that are concentrated in the adrenal glands and thus work to refill the fuel tanks so energy comes up, mood regulates and you feel like ‘you’ again. Who doesn’t want that?
Listed below are Dr. Salna's Top 3 Superfoods For Optimal Adrenal Health. While by no means exhaustive, and while you should always work with a primary health care provider to be sure Adrenal Fatigue is the issue and a plan is tailored to you, foods are a great, and simple, place to start.
Drum Roll Please...
1) Avocado – this amazing fruit has more potassium per gram than a banana, contains high amounts of magnesium, phosphorus and iron as well as they are high in fibre and B#5 (Pantothenic Acid). It’s low sugar AND 2/3’rds of it’s calories are from healthy omega 3 fatty acids. All of this equals a food source that the adrenals love!
2) Raw Cacao – known as the ‘food of the gods’ this robust bean is full of antioxidants, B-Vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Together this makes for a food that not only works to help calm the nervous system and fuel the adrenals but tastes great too! Pro Tip: if you can’t find raw cacao, go for an organic cocoa (note the change in spelling) powder that is unroasted to reap the health benefits of this adrenal super food.
3) Sea Salt – we’re taught to stay away from salt, but sea salt is a different story. Unrefined and containing trace amounts of minerals, salts including Himalayan and Celtic Sea Salts have a nutrient profile that works together to not only hydrate the body (without affecting blood pressure) but provides the sodium the adrenal glands crave so you can stop reaching for chips to satisfy your salt cravings.
And so, without further ado, let’s put these foods into a SUPERFOOD SNACK. The following recipe is very forgiving and you can shift what you prefer based on taste once blended. Your adrenal glands will thank you!
UPDATE: Want to learn about the wonders of avocado? Check out Marry Spencer's post on the 13 Proven Health Benefits of Avocado here.