Having just written a post about the adrenal-thyroid connection, I received a few questons about ways to support the adrenal glands. So today I’m going to give you 5 simple ways to support adrenal health.
Eat small amounts of food more frequently
It’s easier for the body to regulate blood sugar when you eat smaller amounts more frequently, than when you eat large meals then don’t eat again for many hours. Insulin and cortisol are two major regulators of blood sugar – insulin in a more short-term sense, cortisol in a longer-term sense. Also eating some protein with every meal and snack helps.
When you start your day without any food, perhaps just a cup of coffee and you’re out the door, that’s putting even more stress on the body, because you’re boosting the adrenals with a shot of a stimulant but not giving them any real fuel to work with. High caffeine consumption will ultimately contribute to adrenal depletion and give you more fatigue, which then you’ll need more caffeine to overcome. It’s a vicious cycle.
Sleep 8 hours, and as many hours as you can before 10pm
We all know that adequate sleep is important – really, 8 hours is optimal – but the more hours before midnight, the better. The body does much of its rest and repair between 10pm and 2am. Cortisol is low, which allows the immune system to kick in and do its housework. If you can get 8 hours, 10-6 is even better than 12-8.
Do some form of relaxation/ stress reduction practice
This isn’t just so you feel better, although you will. It’s so your poor adrenals can have a rest from being on hyper alert, which so many of us are with our lives today. Stress-reduction practices facilitate the body being in parasympathetic mode. The parasympathetic nervous system is the “rest and digest” part; the sympathetic nervous system is “fight, flight or freeze” part. I don’t know about you, but I feel like my life creates more towards sympathetic than parasympathetic response, so I have to make very deliberate decisions to get back into parasympathetic mode. It’s all well and good for a while, and I’m grateful our body’s have the mechanisms to help us deal with stressors that come along, but we don’t want to get stuck there.
Take some balancing adrenal herbs
I don’t want to tell you to go out and start popping DHEA, or other supplements that may not be appropriate without having your levels checked first. However, adaptogenic herbs are safe for most as they’re balancing by nature. That means that if cortisol levels are high, they can bring them down; if cortisol is low they can help bring it up. Adaptogenic herbs include Ashwaghanda, Rhodiola, Siberian Ginseng (aka Eleuthrococcus) and Holy Basil. Gaia’s HPA Axis is one of my faves (not for pregnancy or nursing and caution in high blood pressure as it does have some licorice in it).
Adrenal support using supplementation can get more involved and I’ll write more on that at another time – for today, here are your reminders of ways you can be kinder to your adrenals through your own diet and lifestyle choices.