Does Stress Cause Weight Gain? page2

imagesHere are reasons we may not feel hungry in the morning:

Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) levels can dull the appetite when it enters the bloodstream at a fast rate first thing in the morning.
Decreased liver function can accompany adrenal fatigue, which also can quell morning hunger.

Here are some tips to help support your natural cortisol cycle:

Try to eat breakfast within an hour of getting up, or by 8 am to restore blood sugar levels that were depleted during the night.
Eat a healthy snack around 9 am.
Try to eat lunch between 11 am and noon to prevent a large dip in cortisol levels.
Eat a healthy snack between 2 and 3 pm to help off-set the natural cortisol dip that occurs around 3 or 4 pm. Many people notice this dip every day and reach for extra caffeine or carbohydrate-loaded snacks, which will actually impede hormonal balance.
Try to eat dinner between 5 and 6 pm and although it may be difficult at first, try to eat a light meal. Eventually your body will enjoy digesting less food in the evening.
Eat a nutritious, light snack an hour before bed, but be sure to avoid refined sugars. Nut butters with fresh fruit or cheese are ideal choices.
When we properly time our meals and snacks, we can prevent dramatic drops in blood sugar and support our body’s natural functioning. Our adrenals will not have to continually work to produce cortisol and can instead perform many of their other important secondary functions. We will also have more energy and more happiness throughout the day!

Next: Choose The Right Foods and Beverages

It is natural to crave sweets when we have low blood sugar. Fighting adrenal fatigue is exhausting, and reaching for quick, easy, and even tasty snacks such as cookies, doughnuts, candy, colas and coffee drinks is common. Unfortunately the energy we get from these types of foods is short-acting. The quick spike in blood sugar followed by a spike in insulin levels clears from our bloodstream so fast that we refer to this process as a “crash.”

Stress and exhaustion, when combined with hunger, can impede our ability to make healthy choices. When we aren’t aware of the effects that too much caffeine and refined carbohydrates have on our bodies, we may not realize we are affecting our hormones and how they function, as well as our sleep patterns by consuming them. I often recommend a gluten-free diet and limited caffeine to my patients who are suffering from adrenal fatigue.

In addition to cortisol levels, our serotonin may also be off balance, signaling our body to rest. That doesn’t always mean sleep — sometimes deep breathing or a 10-minute walk outdoors can help boost serotonin and ward off fatigue.

Ways to Eat to Support Adrenal Health

Use fresh, whole foods, preferably organic, locally grown, seasonal food for meals and snacks.
Avoid preservatives, added hormones, artificial colors, dyes, and chemicals.
Include lean protein with each meal and snack to help stabilize blood sugar and stave off cravings for refined sugars and caffeine.
If you buy prepared food, try to buy it at a health food store or grocery offering natural, whole foods.
Try to prepare extra nutritious snacks to have on hand so they are ready and available when you are having cravings.

A Note On Salt and Adrenal Imbalance

My patients are always surprised when I tell them to give in to their cravings of salt during periods of adrenal fatigue. Salt cravings in adrenal insufficiency are related to low levels of a steroid hormone called aldosterone. This hormone helps the body maintain salt and water as a way to help regulate blood pressure. When cortisol goes up, aldosterone goes down. Like cortisol, aldosterone fluctuates throughout the day, and is also influenced by stress. Chronically low levels of aldosterone can impact electrolyte balance, and sodium intake is one way to help correct this imbalance.

If you experience lightheadedness when you get out of bed in the morning, or when you get out of a hot bath or shower, you may have hypotension or low blood pressure. This is a common side effect of adrenal insufficiency, so adding good quality-salt, such as Celtic sea salt, could be helpful to manage those symptoms.

A Final Tip On Choosing The Right Foods and Beverages

When we make necessary dietary changes, we may often feel stress, which of course does not help break the stress-patterns that have already depleted our adrenal glands. This is when I remind my patients to not feel bad if they veer off course once in a while. Feelings of self-disappointment that are associated with bingeing may lead to a desire to abandon the course of action. Doing your best 90 percent of the time is all I ask, because guilt is not a healthy way to support your adrenal glands!

Other Nutrients Valuable To Adrenal Health

Vitamins and minerals and micronutrients found in a pharmaceutical-grade supplement  are essential to restoring adrenal health, and supporting the entire endocrine system. Not only can they help the healing process, but they can provide extra nutrition to our cells, and support proper adrenal functioning every day. Here are some important ones.

Vitamins C, E and all the B vitamins (especially pantothenic acid and B6) help regulate stress hormones.
Magnesium provides energy to the adrenal glands.
Calcium and trace minerals including zinc, manganese, selenium, and iodine provide calming effects in the body.
Herbal support is also a consideration when treating adrenal fatigue. Adaptogens are herbs that actually adapt to the individual needs of your body, providing the additional essential support your adrenals need. Begin with the first two herbs listed below, along with B vitamins. If you do not notice improvement within a few weeks, be sure to consult with a naturopathic or functional medicine provider for evaluation and a program that evaluates your specific needs.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Eleuthero / Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
Astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceus)
Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
Rhodiola rosea
Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
It’s amazing to think that the adrenal glands have so much power over our functioning. When they are working properly they offer balance – providing us with energy when we require it, and helping us feel relaxed when it’s time to rest. The burden is great on our adrenals, and they can become impaired under the heels of long term stress. But we can make small choices that can dramatically impact their functioning for the better. With proper nutrition, exercise, relaxation, and sleep, our body’s natural rhythms will be supported. By reducing stress levels, our adrenal glands will work in harmony with us, and our energy and vitality will be renewed.