Why do we feel tired? Why do we get dips of fatigue during the day and what can we do to over this?
Eating to Support your Adrenal Glands
'small choices can make a difference'
Tiredness / fatigue is one of the most common symptoms I see in clinic. And when I ask cleints to tell me about what’s going on in their lives, all too often the answers include more responsibility than seems humanly possible.
I value "Downtime". The busier we become the more we need to carve out the special time and just 'be'. Downtime could means anything, but the need to do less and enjoy more. Have you heard of the Blue Zones - check out Dan Buttners TEDTALK here. To find the path to long life and health, Dan Buettner and team study the world's "Blue Zones," communities whose elders live with vim and vigour to record-setting age. In his talk, he shares the 9 common diet and lifestyle habits that keep them spry past age 100. Downtime was one of them....
Whats your downtime today? A walk somewhere beautiful, meditation, or taking 10 deep square breathes outdoors as your walk around your office block. Book the appointment with your reflexologist or massage therapist. Run a bath this evening. Leave work early and visit / call a friend? The more relaxed we are, the more productive we are and the less need for the busy busy trend. What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts around this?
From my own experience and that of my patients, it’s sometimes hard to make good nutritional decisions when we’re going through bouts of stress. We reach for foods that provide quick energy. Particularly at the end of a stressful day as the body is entering a period of recovery, overeating or making poor choices is common place.
Let’s look at some options for supporting your adrenal, so you can enjoy good energy all through the day, and get a great night’s sleep.
Timing is Everything
"Never allow yourself to get too hungry".
Low blood sugar by itself puts stress on your body and can play havoc with your adrenals. You may not realise that your body is in constant need of energy — even as you sleep. Cortisol serves as a kind of moderator in making sure your blood sugar between meals, especially during the night, stays adequate. It does this by signalling to the liver to release stored sugar, glycogen, when there isn’t food on board. Long periods without food make the adrenals work harder by requiring them to release more cortisol to keep your body functioning normally. Eating three nutritious meals and two to three snacks that are well-timed throughout the day is one way to balance your blood sugar and lessen the adrenal burden.
When you eat can also make a difference in preserving, supporting, and restoring your adrenals. Cortisol has a natural cycle that works with your circadian rhythm. Normally, it begins to rise around 6:00 AM and reaches its highest peak around 8:00 AM. Throughout the day cortisol gradually declines — with small upward movements at meal times — in preparation for nighttime rest.
It’s ideal to work with this natural cycle to keep the tapering-off of levels as smooth as possible and to avoid dramatic ups and downs.
To do this, it helps to get the majority of your food in earlier in the day (especially if you are adnreally), and to eat an early dinner. If it’s difficult to eat early, as it is for many of us (myself included!), at least try to make your evening meal the lightest one of the day, to prevent a surge of cortisol from ramping up your night-time metabolic rate and disrupting your ability to fall or stay asleep. “Night-eating” habit can lead to binge eating. Never feel hungry going to bed, have a little light snack of choose one of the desserts from the menu plan.
Keep in mind that cortisol will also rise a bit with exercise. Lighter activities, such as a walk after dinner or a bit of gentle stretching before, will not subvert this natural tapering-off process. But to work with your body’s natural cortisol cycle, more intense exercise is best planned for the morning.
Breakfast is important. Your mother was right! Even if you don’t feel hungry, having a nutritious breakfast within an hour of rising — preferably with protein — will provide energetic benefits to your metabolism and cortisol levels that last throughout the day.
Here are some other simple ways to gently support your body’s natural cortisol cycle:
If possible, eat breakfast within an hour of getting up (earlier is better), to restore blood sugar levels after using glycogen stores at night.
Try to eat lunch around noon-ish. Your morning meal can be used up quickly.
Eat a nutritious snack between 2:00 and 3:00 PM to get you through the natural dip in cortisol around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon.
Make an effort to eat dinner around 6:00-7:00 PM, and make this your lightest meal of the day.