Why the Importance of Nutrition Extends to Your Adrenal Glands
While a lot of people desire to lose weight and look thinner, many tend to ultimately forget the importance of nutrition. Nutrition has nothing to do with any diet trend. Instead, it is a basic need, something critical that you need to maintain to ensure that your overall health is always good condition. Without proper nutrition, your body can seriously suffer and become at risk for a host of diseases. This includes adrenal fatigue.
Importance of Nutrition to Your Overall Health
Now more than ever, the importance of nutrition cannot be ignored or underestimated. “Nutrition” refers to your food intake in relation to your body’s dietary needs. The nutrients you put into your body can be used for making energy. These also help in maintaining your tissues and regulating your bodily processes.
There are six essential type of nutrients that your body requires daily. These include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. All these are known as macronutrients because the body requires them in relatively large quantities. Without these, your body would not be able to function properly. Even worse, you can also become obese or even gravely ill if your body is lacking any of them. Conditions associated with lack of proper nutrition include dental caries, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, gallbladder disease, nutritional anemia, dementia and adrenal fatigue.
The best way to make sure you get all the essential nutrients daily is by eating right. That means having a wide variety of real foods that contain several nutrients to support your overall health.
Essential Nutrients Your Body Needs Daily
The importance of nutrition is all the more evident in the various essential nutrients your body needs in order to maintain several functions daily. These include:
Vitamin A is necessary for maintaining good vision and reproductive function. It also helps maintain the immune system. Aside from this, vitamin A helps ensure that your kidneys, lungs, heart and other organs are working properly.
Vitamin C is vital for your growth and the repair of several tissues in your body. This is because vitamin C helps the body produce collagen, a protein used in the production of skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and even blood vessels. This vitamin is also necessary for healing wounds and maintaining healthy teeth and bones.
It is also important to note that vitamin C is vital when it comes to your body’s stress response. That’s because this vitamin is involved in producing cortisol in your adrenal glands. That means when you have low vitamin C levels in your body, there is a higher chance of your body being unable to produce enough stress hormones to help fight your stress. This is especially crucial when you are already suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is critical in the production of your body’s red blood cells. It also helps protect the immune system against bacteria and various viruses, which is critical when you are experiencing stress.
When under attack from stress, one of the functions of your body’s NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response involves an inflammatory response. Inflammation is part of the body’s biological response in defending against various harmful substances. When the gut is inflamed, its permeability is also increased. Your gut cells tend to hold tight together to prevent any leakage. However, stress can eventually damage it, causing various toxins to enter your bloodstream. This, in turn, can disrupt your immune system, making you more susceptible to food sensitivities, leaky gut, and other illnesses. Luckily, vitamin E can counter this problem effectively. In fact, one study conducted by the Colorado State University has shown that dietary supplementation with vitamin E can decrease susceptibility to infection even when under great stress.
Combined, B vitamins such as B12, B6, B2, B3, and B9, deliver a lot of important benefits to the body. These include fighting off free radicals, supporting red blood cell production, boosting good cholesterol levels and promoting healthy, glowing skin.
On top of this, these vitamins have also been associated with reducing stress. In fact, one study conducted by Northumbria University in Newcastle, United Kingdom found that supplementing with a high dose of B vitamins, vitamin C and minerals can significantly improve mood and cognitive performance. With a better mood and ability to think about how to deal with a stressful episode, you are able to better cope with the situation. With your heightened ability to cope, the stress will no longer escalate, helping you to avoid experiencing Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
When you think about the importance of nutrition, one nutrient that immediately comes to mind is calcium. After all, it helps maintain strong bones and teeth. At the same time, it also helps keep your heartbeat normal.
Magnesium is a mineral that is necessary in maintaining healthy muscle and nerve function. It also helps regulate your blood glucose levels and assists your body in producing both proteins and energy.
Potassium is a mineral that also functions as an electrolyte. It helps promote healthy heart function, while also playing an important role in ensuring good muscular and digestive function.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids such as omega-6 and omega-3 can fight off inflammation and diseases you may be suffering from. Therefore, they can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis and even breast cancer. Moreover, these fatty acids also play a crucial role in the importance of nutrition, when it comes to the body’s inflammatory response as part of the NEM.
With stress inflammation symptoms often unchecked, you don’t realize that your inflammation has become severe under stress until you start experiencing symptoms such as irritable bowel disease, musculoskeletal pain, food sensitivity, and leaky gut. At the same time, the inflammation can also start to affect the way your brain responds to stress. This is why depression has been linked with chronic low-grade inflammation response due to cell-mediated immunity.
Fortunately, this can possibly be avoided with the help of essential fatty acids. In fact, one study published in 2011 found that supplementing with omega-3 helps reduces both inflammation and anxiety among healthy adults. Moreover, a review of scientific evidence conducted by Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh, India also found that omega-3 fatty acids can be an effective remedy for depression.
Amino acids are known to be the building blocks for protein in the body. They also play a vital role in both transporting and storing all your essential nutrients.
Nutritional Deficiency and Adrenal Fatigue
Indeed, making sure you load up on all the essential nutrients for your body is the best way to avoid becoming sick. This is especially the case for AFS.
Adrenal fatigue is typically caused by chronic stress. This happens as a result of the adrenal glands being overworked since the stress that it has to respond is continuous. When this happens, the adrenal glands will eventually be unable to produce enough stress hormones to combat stress. This immediately disrupts your NEM Stress Response, causing hormonal imbalance. When this happens, it will cause you to feel exhausted and weak all the time. You may also suffer from more serious conditions including panic attacks, low blood pressure, brain fog, low libido, hypersensitivity to medications, and even depression.
On the other hand, there is also evidence that certain nutritional deficiencies can worsen or cause adrenal fatigue. These include:
Vitamin E Deficiency
Several studies indicate that vitamin E is vital to how the major components of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis are able to communicate well with one another. In fact, one study that was published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition found that vitamin E supplementation prevented increases in lipid peroxides in each of the organs in the HPA axis even when subjected to oxidative stress. In addition, a study conducted in Malaysia found that vitamin E can possibly prevent the elevation of corticosterone as induced by stress.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Having significant vitamin D deficiency doesn’t just affect your bone health. It can compromise your adrenals too. Some studies suggest that low vitamin D levels can affect the ability of the adrenal medulla to produce hormones. Research also indicates that there is a relation between having low levels of vitamin D and an overproduction of cortisol in the body. Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that vitamin D deficiency can worsen the effect of adrenal insufficiency among critically ill children.
Vitamin K Deficiency
Vitamin K is often associated with blood vessel and bone health. However, one study done by University Faculty of Medicine, Samsun-Turkey has also found that vitamin K deficiency may cause adrenal hemorrhage, as evidenced in a 10-day old patient.
What You Can Eat to Promote Good Adrenal Health
The importance of nutrition cannot be more critical when it comes to adrenal health. As you can see, several types of vitamin deficiency can severely compromise your health and cause adrenal fatigue. One of the best ways to prevent this is to eat more foods that help promote good adrenal health.
Before you include any of these foods in your diet, however, it may be a good idea to consult with your physician or nutritionist first. This is because you may have a certain sensitivity or intolerance to some of the foods. To be safe, it would be best to get testing done for food allergies. This can be a skin test or a blood test. Once you have the results, you would have a much better idea of which adrenal-boosting foods are safe for you to eat regularly.
That said, here are some foods that clearly show the importance of nutrition in supporting your adrenal glands:
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of the essential amino acid tryptophan. According to a study conducted by the University of North Dakota, increasing your consumption of dietary tryptophan can lessen any depressive symptoms you may be suffering from. Moreover, it can also help reduce anxiety.
Cruciferous vegetables include vegetables such as cauliflower, kale, broccoli, radishes, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. These are quite helpful in relieving adrenal fatigue. Often, people suffering from adrenal fatigue deal with high acidity. Luckily, these vegetables can effectively support healthy PH levels, thereby preventing adrenal fatigue.
If you happen to be suffering from estrogen dominance or thyroid problems such as Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease, however, it may be best to avoid cruciferous vegetables altogether. This is because it is believed that these foods may worsen your thyroid function. To be safe, you may want to consult with your physician before adding cruciferous vegetables to your daily diet.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
The likes of spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, and turnip greens are a good source of magnesium. This means they can give your adrenals enough energy to function well regularly.
A host of natural healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil, and olive oil can help maintain your blood sugar level and keep you in a good mood. This way, your adrenals would less likely need to respond to stress episodes.
Fermented Drinks and Foods
The next time you go to your local grocery store, be sure to grab some yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, or kombucha. These are all full of good bacteria which promotes good digestion and nutrient absorption. With enough nutrients reaching your adrenal glands, it stands a better chance of being able to prevent any hormonal imbalances. Therefore, you can also better avoid adrenal fatigue.
Tips to Naturally Support Your Body’s Cortisol Cycle
There are also a number of ways that you can support your body’s own cortisol cycle to prevent a hormonal imbalance, especially in times of stress. Here are some tips you can follow:
Eat Breakfast Within One Hour of Waking Up or by 10 AM
When you have breakfast as soon as you wake up, you are able to immediately restore your blood sugar levels. This is critical since your body can be depleted of glycogen overnight.
Have a Healthy Snack by 9 AM
Having a snack allows you to constantly provide your body with much needed energy. This, in turn, helps keep your blood sugar level stable so that it neither becomes too elevated or critically low.
Be Sure to Eat Lunch Between 11 AM and Noon
Around this time, the energy you got from food during breakfast has already been used up. If you don’t have lunch soon enough, you may suffer a significant dip in your cortisol levels. This can lead to a significant hormonal imbalance.
Have Another Healthy Snack Between 2 and 3 PM
It is believed that people often experience a natural dip in cortisol around 3 or 4 PM. The best way to offset this is to have a light and nutritious snack. Resist any craving for foods high in caffeine or loaded with carbohydrates. These will only worsen hormonal imbalance.
Eat Your Dinner Between 5 and 6 PM
This will help restore any energy you have already used up from the foods you ate earlier. Moreover, eating dinner relatively early gives your body the best chance to properly digest your meal before you sleep.
Have a Light Snack Before Going to Bed
Enjoying a little bedtime snack can help ensure that your body stays properly nourished while sleeping. Therefore, you can sleep much better. Consider munching on some soaked raw nuts before going to bed.
Don’t underestimate the importance of nutrition on your overall health. When you eat right, you are able to take care of your body inside and out. You also stand a better chance to avoid a host of diseases that can readily attack your body the moment it becomes weak. This includes adrenal fatigue, which only gets worse when stressors of daily life are constantly around you.
© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
What is the importance of nutrition to your adrenals?
The importance of nutrition to your adrenal glands cannot be underestimated. In fact, deficiency in certain nutrients such as vitamins K, E, and D have been linked to serious adrenal problems, including adrenal fatigue. This indicates that loading up on essential nutrients is needed to maintain good adrenal health.