By Marian Mitchell
Life is stressful these days. Businesses have tight deadlines,
technology makes it too easy to work from home (or at your kid’s ball game),
schools require hours of homework per night starting in kindergarten,
and the list goes on. It is an effort just to rest with the perpetual to do list.
Unfortunately, living this way leads to a long list of health problems that we consider normal parts of aging. I want you to know that it’s not. It’s your body telling you you’re pushing too hard and it needs a break! In the functional medicine world, we call this adrenal fatigue.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue tend to be brushed off as stress or lack of a good night’s sleep, for example, but they happen for too long. Your body is trying to tell you something is wrong so pay attention. As time goes on, they will go from mild and manageable to hard to ignore. Symptoms include:
• Low energy through the day and trouble getting out of bed
• Sleep issues
• Low thyroid function (hypothyroid)
• Inability to lose weight and weight gain
• Low or no sex drive
• Low blood pressure (dizziness when standing up is a sign of low blood pressure)
• Intense salt cravings
• Inability to cope with stress and easily irritated, annoyed, and overwhelmed
• Anxiety, mental exhaustion, depression and/or apathy
• Reduced immunity
• Getting cold easily
• Low stomach acid
• Muscle tightness, stiffness, soreness
The longer you ignore the symptoms, the more depleted the adrenals become and the more likely you are to develop permanent thyroid issues. It’s time to take notice, honor your body and give it the rest and nutrients it desperately needs.
Food is powerful medicine. Through food (and learning to build rest into your weekly schedule) you can mitigate your stress, have more energy, sleep better and just feel good again. Foods that help your body restore the adrenals include:
Protein rich foods — Make sure to start your day with at least 25 grams of protein and pair protein with every meal and snack. This will keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day.
Salt — When we are stressed a hormone called aldosterone, the salt-monitoring hormone, becomes depleted. If salt levels get too low, maintaining blood pressure becomes difficult and dizzy spells can occur. Be sure to be liberal with sea salt when cooking.
Healthy fats — Fats from healthy sources keep blood sugar stable, are rich in essential vitamins A, D, E and K2 and even promote weight loss when paired with a low carb diet. Healthy fats include avocados; coconuts and unrefined coconut oil; olives and extra virgin olive oil; nuts and seeds; butter from grass fed, pastured cows; ghee; and lard and tallow from pastured animals that ate a native diet (not GMO corn and soy).
Magnesium rich foods— When stressed, we crave chocolate because it’s rich in magnesium! Magnesium is a relaxing mineral and can reduce headaches, improve sleep quality, reduce muscle cramping, increase energy and help relieve anxiety and depression. Magnesium rich foods include cacao (raw chocolate powder), dark leafy greens (all of them), blackstrap molasses, avocados, nuts and seeds, and even wild caught fish.
Vitamin C rich foods — Your adrenals use vitamin C to produce hormones, especially cortisol. When vitamin C is low, they get out of balance and actually produce more cortisol which increases anxiety, impacts blood sugar levels, blood pressure and leads to weight gain. However, DON’T reach for Emergen-C or run to Costco for some cheap vitamin C. The synthetic stuff isn’t easily used by the body, is made from GMO corn and destroys the bacteria in your gut, causing other issues. Instead, choose citrus fruits, berries, dark leafy greens, tropical fruits, broccoli and tomatoes. You can also add camu-camu or acerola powder into your routine.
B vitamins — B vitamins help us manage stress by balancing our neurotransmitters and brain chemistry, thus giving us more energy. Foods that are rich in B vitamins include dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts and seeds, avocado, pasture raised eggs, meats, liver and wild caught fish.
Knowing this information is great, though finding ways to incorporate these foods into our diets can be a challenge. So, I’ve developed three recipes for you that are designed to help you use these foods to your advantage.
The breakfast bowl is a quick and easy way to get protein, healthy fats and nutrient dense food into your day. The second recipe is comforting chicken and vegetable soup. It is made with healing bone broth, chicken and nutrient rich vegetables. And, finally, a delicious recipe for homemade coconut oil chocolate fudge. This no-cook recipe is healthy, satisfying and full of magnesium to satisfy your mind, body, and soul (because chocolate is a soul food).
Cheers to health and a stress-free holiday season!
The Breakfast Bowl
1 bell pepper (any color)
2 tbsp diced onion
5-8 grape tomatoes
3 stalks asparagus
1 handful baby spinach
1/2 Haas avocado
cooking fat of choice (butter oravocado oil)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat a large skillet and add a tablespoon of butter or avocado oil.
2. Cut off and throw away the bottom inch of your asparagus stalks, then cut into 1 inch long pieces. Add to the skillet and cover with a lid for 3-4 minutes. Stirring a couple times for even cooking.
3. Chop bell pepper into bite size pieces and dice onion. Add onion into skillet and cook for two minutes uncovered. (You won’t need the lid anymore so just place it to the side.)
4. Add bell pepper and tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.
5. Add spinach, stir in, then move vegetables to one side of the skillet to make room for your egg.
6. Crack the egg into the skillet and cook until desired level.
7. First put the vegetables into your bowl, then top with the egg. Cut your avocado in half and twist apart. Use the side that does not have the seed, slice in the skin with a knife, remove with a spoon and add to your bowl.
Healing Chicken and Vegetable Soup
4 cups chicken bone broth
2 cups filtered water
1 yellow onion
6 or more cloves of garlic (to taste)
1 small sweet potato
2 stalks of celery
½ cup sliced mushrooms
4 cups of spinach (or other dark
leafy green of choice)
1 pre-cooked chicken breast
1 bay leaf (optional but super tasty)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp Italian herb blend
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne powder (optional)
1. Crush the garlic, peel off the skin and set aside.
2. Chop the onion and slice the celery.
3. Peel and chop the carrots and sweet potato.
4. Chop the chicken into bite size pieces.
5. Now mince the garlic. (Waiting to chop it increases the garlic’s healing capacity.)
6. Take a large pot, pour in the broth and water. Then add in the chicken, spices and all the vegetables except for the spinach.
7. Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium-low heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.
8. During the last 2-3 minutes, add the spinach to your soup and stir. Serve once the spinach is soft and wilted.
Healthy Coconut Oil Chocolate Fudge
1/3 cup raw almond butter
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, softened or melted but not hot
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
¼ cup honey
1-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (to taste)
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (I used Himalayanpink salt)
1. Take a bread pan and line with parchment paper.
2. In a medium sized bowl, add all ingredients then mix well with a whisk.
3. Pour mixture into the parchment lined bread pan and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight for best results.
4. Once hardened, cut into 2×2 inch squares and store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.