30 Mar

Adrenal Dysregulation Food First – Part 2

Adrenal Dysfunction – Food First

The last blog looked at adrenals and how the stress response system works and what happens when it goes wrong. Today I will discuss how diet can support your body and help with the way we adapt to our busy lives.

It is easy for me to say the first bullet point and I probably say it in every blog! However the foods listed below may make a difference.

Variety and diversity is important.  The more types of food you eat the more chance you will eat all the essential nutrients your body needs.

Protein helps make chemicals in your brain and may help your ability to cope with a challenging life. Carbohydrates contain nutrients that support your bacteria in your digestive system. Many of the roles these bacteria play are involved in brain function and your ability to cope with life-load. Good quality fats build your brain and are involved in the communication of nerve cells.

  • Focus on eating nutritional dense foods in the forms of:
    • Complex carbs – vegetables, wholegrains such as oats, rye, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice and lower sugar fruits
    • Protein – fish, grass fed red meat, organic chicken, eggs and mix up proteins with plant ones as well: pulses, beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts and seeds.
    • Good quality fats – olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, butter (in moderation), and coconut oil as well as grass fed meat and oily fish – salmon, trout, herrings, sardine and anchovies.
    • When thinking of your plate in any situation whether you are cooking, eating out – think half plate veg, so order an extra serving of vegetables and perhaps not have a desert! Some vegetables are also good sources of protein such as seed vegetables – broccoli and peas.

Broccoli and Peas!

 

  • Eating too much sugar can have a negative effect on adrenals. When you spike your blood sugar levels, your sugar levels will dip after the steep rise. The body sees the dip as starvation, a stressor and stress hormones are released. Keeping blood sugar regulated throughout the day helps avoid this.
    • Eating protein at every meal, reducing refined sugars and processed foods and not skipping meals can all support blood sugar regulation.

 

  • Caffeine may have a negative effect on the adrenals. If you are using it to stay awake and having problems sleeping at night it might be worth looking at reducing or stopping.

 

  • Eat a wide variety of foods, add a new vegetable or fruit to your diet each week. This can help support your digestive system. The gut and brain are linked, supporting gut health supports stress response to situations. Additionally seasonal eating can be useful for getting diversity into your diet. In April eat lamb, crab, asparagus, wild garlic and Jersey Royals. 

 

  • Green tea contains nutrients that support the cool and calm collected response, However there is caffeine in green tea so you don’t need a lot, couple of drinks a day, using the same teabag. Add in some dark chocolate, rich in magnesium, the mineral that supports nerves and muscles. This wonderful combo gives you some energy with a feel-good factor as well.

In this world you cannot avoid stressors. However, by supporting your response to it you can support your overall health.

Tune in next week for the final part and we will focus on lifestyle, supplements and testing.

 

23 Mar

Adrenal Dysregulation- Part 1

Nutritional practitioners like myself talk quite a lot about adrenals and adrenal dysregulation. To clients sitting in front of me many must think – what is that?

The two adrenals glands sit on top of your kidneys. As glands do they secrete hormones, as many as 50, they are busy organs in the body. They are heavily involved in the stress response and some of the main hormones they secrete are adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.

How they work:

The brain releases hormones when we are in a challenging situation, one with a rather long name called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This hormone travels to your adrenal glands and this stimulates them to make and secrete various hormones.

Many of these hormones are involved in your fight or flight stress response.

Adrenaline (a hormone) encourages blood flow to your arms and legs so you can run fast away from the threat. It also is directed at you heart, lungs and muscles to increase oxygen, again enabling you to escape fast.  In cave man days this would have been a bear or tiger. Systems like digestion and reproduction is switched off because this is not important at this time.

The fight or flight response was only ever designed to be short-lived. Run away from the threat. Utilise the release of hormones to enable this. Once threat removed, the body returns to normal, the stress hormones are no longer needed. Unfortunately, in our modern living world this does not happen. The release of these hormones continues and this can drive disease and dysregulation of adrenals. The constant ping of notifications, being late for work, being unhappy at work or in a relationship are everyday occurrences for us all.

Adrenal dysregulation can also be triggered by early life stressors, in the womb or childhood experiences

The worst kind of stress is the one where you feel powerless and frustrated and you cannot change your situation.

Symptoms
Headaches, fatigue, irritability, changes in appetite, memory loss, low self-esteem, withdrawal, teeth grinding, cold hands, high blood pressure, disturbed sleeping patterns, allergies, muscle weakness, depression, anxiety and many more symptoms.

Cortisol has its own circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is your internal clock that can identify times of the day. So, you are meant to be awake in daylight and asleep when it gets dark. Cortisol is meant to be high in the morning and steadily decreases throughout the day being lowest in the evening. In adrenal dysregulation you may find cortisol does not follow this pattern hence symptoms of morning grogginess, daytime slumps and insomnia at night.

 

The way we live our lives is not going to change however you can make small changes to help you adapt better to fight or flight. Finding ways to switch it off when you need to through diet and lifestyle may support your symptoms and health. To find out how tune into Part 2 next week.

 

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16 Mar

Pain Relief, Natural Solutions Without Nasty Side Effects and Addictions

The news reported today that the misuse of pain relief drugs and how there is an increase in people being addicted to drugs with codeine in them. An in-depth report interviewed people with addictions to opioid drugs. They reported mindfulness techniques are being used for some to try to help them deal with pain. This was refreshing and hopeful.

Charlie and Steff  on BBC Breakfast interviewed a GP live on the sofa. The GP welcomed a review into these drugs. She said that if someone is prescribed morphine for pain relief it only takes 72 hours to become addicted!  She also admitted GPs sometimes have no choice to prescribe these drugs because they have no alternatives. Many of the previous pain relief meds have been taken off the market due to side effects. I think GPs can recommend other routes such as the mindfulness the news report had just spoken about. Diet may support pain relief, exercise, massage, physio and talking therapies may also be very helpful. Dr Chatterjee is a GP who promotes these routes of health as opposed to the drug route. He is also rolling out his approach to GPs to help them improve their patient’s health.

Resources are scarce for these therapies in the NHS however, the waiting lists are long if they are available. However,  if they invested more in diet and lifestyle changes than in drugs perhaps there might be better outcomes for individuals and health of the UK as a whole.

Supplements and lifestyle are options try for pain management. This blog is focusing on some nutrients I have tried myself for frozen shoulder.

Curcumin (Turmeric)

There is so much talked about with curcumin, it almost feels it could be a fad. However looking at research and clinical evidence it suggests turmeric may be supportive for pain.  I take for the pain and if I don’t take it I notice, so it’s doing something.

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials found turmeric and its pain relieving properties had value however they did state there is not enough of these trials to make a firm conclusion of its effect.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003001/

How does it work?

Similarly, to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and aspirin. Curcumin blocks the pathway that drives inflammation. Inflammation that is in overdrive causes constant pain. The problem with turmeric it is hard to absorb, it is a huge molecule that cannot pass the lining of the stomach due to its size and it molecular make-up. However fat and black pepper can aid the absorption. Supplement companies also produce products that enable it to pass through the stomach and then reach the bloodstream.

Cooking with turmeric is useful, it is difficult to say how much pain relief it will have at culinary level. Always pair it up with fat and black pepper as stated. Curries are a great way to incorporate it. I also make scrambled eggs with turmeric and add it to smoothies and even my porridge.

Ginger
Ginger also had pain relief qualities similar to turmeric. A lovely food study showed one patient lightly cooked 50g ginger per day. 6 more took 5 g per day of fresh ginger or 0.1 to 1g of dried powdered ginger. Even though there was a difference in dosage all reported a reduction in pain, swelling and stiffness in the morning. So, get the ginger in. Grate over fish, chicken in curries and make fresh ginger tea.

Bromelain

This is found in pineapple and is known as an enzyme. It acts by breaking down inflammatory compound such as fibrin ( build up of scar tissue), fibrin may lead to inflammation that causes pain and swelling. Bromelain is usually found in a supplement and often is combined with turmeric.

Fish oils

Overall evidence demonstrates that fish oils may be effective with people in Rheumatoid Arthritis not so much on Osteoarthritis. Studies have shown a reduction in NSAIDs whilst taking fish oils and an improvement in symptoms. It is important if taking a  fish oil supplement to source the best quality. Fish oils again work in a similar manner, they have been shown to block an inflammatory pathway and also increase anti-inflammatory substances within the body.

Rosehips

Rosehips contain a type of galactolipid that has anti-inflammatory action. Galactolipids are found in the cell membrane of plants. Extracts of rosehips and been used to make a powder and have captured the  anti- inflammatory properties of galactolipids. Rosehip is also rich in Vitamin C. According to artritis.co.uk “A 2008 meta-analysis of three clinical trials showed rose hips powder reduced hip, knee and wrist pain by about one-third in nearly 300 osteoarthritis patients and a 2013 trial found that conventional rose hips powder relieved joint pain almost as effectively as an enhanced version. In a 2010 trial of 89 patients, rose hips improved rheumatoid arthritis symptoms better than a placebo”

Other diet and Lifestyle options

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet with quality proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates with plenty colour goes a long way to supporting health. Incorporating exercise, gentle if needed, ensuring good quality sleep and finding me time are also ways that may improve overall quality of mind and body. Seek advice from GP and a nutritional therapist  about alternatives to pain relief.

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