Why I'm Cutting Back on Coffee
*Que the overly-dramatic intro music*
Fatigue: we've all been there at some point. With life pulling us in numerous directions, it's pretty easy to feel like you just want to go hibernate in a cave for a couple months. Dramatic? Maybe. True? Probably. However, there is a glaring light at the end of that cave - Winter is over - time to get that energy back! After reading a very interesting article all about adrenal function, I'm here to spread the good news that there is a way to deal and heal with this sluggish feeling.
The adrenal glands are two sort of thumb-sized organs that sit in the back of your flank area, and there are so many people — about 80 percent of the population — that at some point will struggle with adrenal fatigue in their lives. 80%?! That's a massive amount of people who are suffering from this gland issue and it needs to be addressed! I got you.
Here are three steps you must follow if you want to heal adrenal fatigue for good — and unsurprisingly, it starts with diet. First, let's see if any of these warning signs resonates with you.
WARNING SIGNS OF ADRENAL FATIGUE
1. You get enough sleep (7-8hrs a night) but you're still tired when you wake up. If it feels like you can never catch up on your sleep and you're always tired, this is definitely a warning sign of adrenal fatigue.
2. Feelings of anxiety and trouble focusing. Stress, anxiety and trouble focusing or concentration/have a poor memory are also warning signs that you have adrenal fatigue or insufficiency.
3. Thyroid problems. Pretty much every person who has thyroid problems (hypothyroidism, Graves' or Hashimoto's disease) means they also have an adrenal issue as well.
4. Storing excess body fat. You do the workouts, you cook and eat the healthy meals - but you're still not losing the weight. Or you can't seem to lose that last 5-10 lbs or break through a weight loss plateau dispite doing everything else right, you may have an adrenal issue.
WAYS TO BREAK FREE OF ADRENAL FATIGUE
1. Rethink Your Diet
Food is so powerful and possess this amazing ability to heal your body from different sicknesses and diseases, naturally. It's no different when dealing with adrenal fatigue, where changing your diet is step numero uno. Now, brace yourselves for this one because I know it's not going to be something you wanna hear: the first thing you want to do is stop drinking caffeine. Or at LEAST cut back on one cup a day. I know that sounds... dreadful...but listen, if your adrenals could talk, they'd prob say "hey.. prob don't order your 3rd large coffee for today, ok?"
When you consume copious amounts of coffee or caffeine, you're essentially burning out your adrenal glands. A study from the Duke University Medical Center found that “caffeine may exaggerate sympathetic adrenal-medullary responses to the stressful events of normal daily life.” So you'll need to avoid a potential caffeine overdose and cut out caffeine as much as possible. You could try an elimination diet (cutting coffee or caffeinated tea out of your diet for 2-3 weeks to see how you feel, for example) or try and switch it out for decaf. I know this sounds counter-intuitive if you want to raise energy levels, but try it out and see what happens to your body.
Secondly, you'll want to avoid consuming too much sugar. Foods that imbalance blood sugar levels and cause spikes are also detrimental to your adrenals. So caffeine and sugar are the two of the biggest things that you need to get out of your diet to heal adrenal fatigue.
So, what can you eat? Add foods that include vitamin B12 and magnesium, along with foods that help stabilize blood sugar and energy levels. Coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut meat - just all the coconut is so good for your adrenals. Due to the healthy fat content in foods like olives and olive oil, grass-fed butter, organic meats, they also help regulate the adrenal glands. Think about stocking up on loads of veggies like spinach, kale, chard and even seaweed.
2. Take Adrenal-Friendly Supplements
Taking supplements that support your adrenal glands is something else you should consider. In this case, a group of herbs called adaptogens work very well and should be your supplement of choice (source). What are adaptogens? Turns out, they're aptly named as they help your body adapt and deal with stress. Makes sense. These herbs include ashwaganda, rhodiola, licorice root, ginseng and holy basil. I'm gonna focus specifically on ashwaganda in this post because it's the best adaptogen for your adrenals and thyroid. This cool sounding herb helps heal your adrenal fatigue by lowering cortisol levels and it maintains overall adrenal function (source).
B vitamins are so important not only for your adrenal glands, but your overall energy levels as well. A vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to adrenal cortex stress (source) so supplementing with a high-quality vitamin B Complex supplement is a great idea.
Side note: Since I've been eating keto for just over a month now, I can attest to the claim that B vitamins will work wonders for energy levels. During the initial 2 weeks of keto (and the awful keto flu that came along with it) my energy levels were at an all time low. I did some research, grabbed a B100 Complex vitamin and that seriously made a difference!
Also think about magnesium and selenium. Magnesium helps combat adrenal insufficiency, while selenium works as an antioxidant that also supports the adrenals.
3. Lower Stress Levels
This one may be easier said than done, but take the following into consideration while mindfully trying to reduce unnecessary stress in your life.
1) Get a great night's sleep and this means sleeping 8-10 hours a night. Studies show that insufficient sleep can lead to premature aging, raised cortisol levels causing weight gain and... well it just affects overall mood. Where do you think the phrase, "you got up on the wrong side of the bed" came from?
...Actually I have to google that because I have no clue of its origins. Googled it, here it is if you're interested in useless facts LOL.
2) Reduce Stressors - get out a sheet of paper, write down all of the things that are causing you stress. Boss? Spouse? Something totally out of your control? Really look. Identify and address the triggers of what stresses you out, then work on rectifying those things.
I understand you cannot fix all forms of stress. But when you take the time to recognize key situations that are stressing you out, and aim to fix things that are in your control, that's a great start. Even if you can reduce it by say, 50% - that alone will improve stress levels greatly. Also, schedule in fun things that you love to do! I cannot recommend this enough!
So, again, getting more sleep, reducing stress, adding joy into your life — all of those things are going to help you overcome adrenal fatigue.
So remember, if you want to heal adrenal fatigue or cure your adrenal fatigue fast:
- change your diet
- get rid of (ok, at least REDUCE) caffeine and sugar intake
- start loading up on nutrient-dense foods, especially green leafy vegetables and healthy fats
- take some good, quality supplements like ashwagandha and B vitamins
- reduce stress