Megan Rand of Ginger Newtrition is my personal nutrition coach. She reached out to me back in February when I had a big health crash, and she has since been a key player in my healing team of professionals helping me to get my health back. Megan has been one of the most influential people to me in this journey, because she’s been there, and experienced something like this herself. She has a story similar to mine, though different in many ways, but she gets it. She understands what it’s like for me, and that has made her support and knowledge so important to me. She has given me tools to heal, and detoxify. She has also recommended things that compliment the treatments prescribed by my doctor, like dry skin brushing, tongue scraping, and lemon water in the morning. She has challenged me to do things that I resisted for a long time like getting to bed early, disconnecting from social media, and daily meditation, and now these are things I look forward to each day. Megan has been there to help me understand how a toxic burden on the body contributes to mood issues, what those stressors on the body do to your hormone balance, that this is not all in my head, and most importantly-it’s not my fault. She’s reminded me to trust the process when the days are difficult, and in doing so I’ve been able to enjoy the good days even more.
Although this journey has been quite difficult, it’s making me a better person, and connecting me with some really wonderful people. Every single day I am grateful for my relationship with Megan, and that she came into my life. She is an amazing practitioner, and has helped me in more ways than I can express. I am confident that I wouldn’t be in the place I am now so quickly if it weren’t for Megan’s support, and I’m positive she doesn’t even realize the huge impact she has had on me.
If you are not able to work one-on-one with Megan, she has designed a fantastic spring detox liver detox that highlights many of the tools she gives her clients in the personalized sessions. These are things that I’ve been doing already to assist my body in removing mold toxins, Candida, and anything else that comes my way in daily life. I will be joining the May group of liver detoxers, and I hope you do too (you can join us here)! If you use the code “PrimalPalate” (not case sensitive) you will receive 20% off your purchase of Megan’s cleanse.
Also anyone who decides to continue with one on one coaching with Megan after completion of the detox will be able to apply the cost of the detox to the cost of the one on one coaching. That is a fantastic deal!
When Hayley recently posted a picture of her Adrenal Cocktail on Instagram a flurry of requests came to my inbox. What is this drink? Should I try this? What else can I do for adrenal fatigue? The popularity of such a post magnifies how real the struggle and how far reaching.
I know the struggle is real from first hand experience. I have been there. When I first tested my adrenal function, I was in was in the worst phase of adrenal dysfunction. My daily cortisol output had tanked to nearly nothing and my sex hormones were depleted as well. I know what it is like to have a 1 year old and feel like you don’t think you can muster up enough energy to brush your teeth!
Let’s talk a little bit about the term adrenal fatigue.
I was taught to use the term adrenal or hormonal dysfunction, since the idea of adrenal fatigue makes it sound like the adrenal glands are actually tired. In most cases the adrenal glands are not tired at all, but they just might not be receiving the correct message. Here is an analogy. The adrenal gland is a teenager sitting on the couch watching TV. The reason that the teenager is sedentary could possibly be because he is fatigued, but more likely than not, that is not the case at all. He just hasn’t received the message “ Hey, get up and get outside it is beautiful out there!”
This is also what happens in our body, we have many complex systems, one of them being the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. The hypothalamus (in the brain) is supposed to tell the pituitary to alert the adrenals that it is time to make cortisol (or other stress mediators). It is like they are a bunch of 6 year olds playing telephone and sometimes there is s a breakdown in the chain. The adrenals may not end up getting the message or get the wrong message. You want a hot cross bun? No, I said I want to go for a RUN!
Seems crazy that a game of telephone in the body could be regulating all the crucial tasks of digestion, energy, sex drive and immune function, but it is true. In our high stress world the inputs are coming into the hypothalamus at rapid speed, all while environmental toxins and endocrine disruptors are pumping through the body just to add a few more obstacles. It is not surprising that the signals get crossed.
So what happens when the signals get crossed?
Well, a whole slew of symptoms can occur. You can read the list of signs & symptoms here: http://gingernewtrition.com/what-is-adrenal-fatigue/
Why was I excited to find out that I had severe adrenal dysfunction?
Seeing my functional lab work that showed I was barely producing any cortisol, very little estrogen, progesterone and melatonin was the first time that my results on paper lined up with my symptoms. Up until this point, I had been to multiple doctors complaining of my vague but annoying symptoms. I was tired all the time, lightheaded, constantly sick and just basically miserable.
My first relief upon seeing my lab work was soon followed by more questions. I realized that although I had found an imbalance and yes it was causing these symptoms, I still didn’t know why I had imbalances.
Maybe you suspect adrenal dysfunction, or even better if you have done a salivary cortisol and hormone test and know that you are either producing way too much cortisol (tired and wired) or have ended up in a state of low cortisol (downright exhausted). Or maybe your test showed that you have an inappropriate level (high or low) of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. What’s next?
What to do if you suspect Adrenal Dysfunction
- Check the numbers – I am a girl who likes to see my progress on paper and have the data and numbers to work with. You can start by visiting a Functional Medicine Doctor, Naturopath or Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner to get a salivary cortisol and hormone panel or another good option is a urine test (DUTCH). Choose a lab that includes cortisol, DHEA, progesterone, estradiol, estriol, testosterone and melatonin.
- Start with the basics – I think we often (myself included) really want to find that one genetic defect that is the root of all of our misery. We look around and see the neighbors chowing down on McDonalds and they seem to feel great. We work hard to stay away from toxins, follow a strict paleo diet and eat 3 cups of greens a day. It just doesn’t seem fair that we still have health problems, so there must be ONE THING that we are missing. Although genetics of course play a role, don’t bother going down that rabbit hole until you have covered all of the basics. Do you have good Stress Management techniques? Are you getting adequate sleep, ideally going to bed a couple of hours before midnight? Are you hydrated and is your water from a good source (void of the metals, bacteria & fluoride but still has the minerals that your body is craving?) Are you exercising enough or are you over training?
- Don’t stop at the adrenals – yes adaptogenic herbs and licorice root tea might be helpful, but use these tools to get some relief and then you can dig deeper to really correct and restore the imbalance from the root cause. You can read more about the steps I take with my clients in this 5 Steps to Health guide.
- Find your food sensitivities – Undiagnosed food allergies or sensitivities can raise cortisol and histamine levels in the body, thereby taxing the endocrine system. Be a detective and make sure you are aware of your allergies and intolerances.
- Gut dysfunction – Just as Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut”. Whether you have traditional digestive symptoms or not, this is still an area of utmost importance to explore on your journey to balanced hormones. Just think about the dysfunction that will occur in the body if you are not able to absorb or assimilate the food that you are eating and therefore cannot turn those building blocks into hormones.
- Liver health – Often we need to cleanse the liver in order to get hormones working again. The liver has over 500 jobs, and keeping the hormones happy is one of them.
- Thyroid health – This is a great place to start with your physician and another important piece of the puzzle.
- Heavy metals – Do you have a mouthful of metal fillings? Heavy metals toxicity is one of the known causes of intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and also puts a burden on the liver
- Parasite, bacteria, fungus – Make sure to look for possible pathogenic infections that may be depleting your nutrients, taxing you liver or raising your cortisol.
So What Can I Do?
I love to use food as medicine as much as possible to help balance hormones. While we make an effort to minimize the stress in our life, we can also help support our body with the best nutrients available.
5 Tips for Healthy Hormones
- Eat lots of good fat – We need dietary fats in order to make hormones! Make sure each meal has a healthy fat such as avocado, fish, nuts, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter (if you tolerate dairy), ghee (clarified butter), duck fat and tallow for ex.
- Add some salt; Pink Himalayan Sea Salt – I put this on everything. Himalayan pink salt has 84 essential minerals that the adrenals need to function properly (very different from iodized table salt which can be harmful). You can even try sprinkling some in your water to see if it tastes better!
- Don’t forget your Vitamin C – Healthy adrenal function requires vitamin C. Tissues in the body use more vitamin C during times of stress. Vitamin C is found naturally in a lot of foods such as citrus fruits, leafy greens, tomatoes, sprouts, kiwi, papaya, red pepper, and cauliflower. One teaspoon of Camu Camu powder added to a smoothie has the same amount of vitamin C as eating 6 oranges, so this is a good option for those of us who really need a boost!
- Daily Bone broth – You knew this on was coming right? Bone broth made from organic raw chicken or beef bones (all of the bones!) that is cooked over a 24-hour period helps with gut repair, has highly absorbable forms of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and sulfur and is an easily digestible protein. I add a Tbsp. of coconut oil, Tbsp. of collagen and pink salt to my mug and this becomes the perfect food for someone with adrenal dysfunction to maximize the nutrients with minimum effort.
- Be aware of magnesium deficiency – Magnesium deficiency is incredibly common, some studies estimate 75% of Americans are deficient. Magnesium is important for stable energy, so this small change alone can have a big impact on those who are deficient. One way to increase your magnesium intake is by adding 2-4 ounces of Magnesium oil or 1 cup Epsom salts to a bath and soak before bed. The same thing can be accomplished with a foot bath while you read a book or watch TV. It is a great way to help your body relax while you are also absorbing your way to feeling better!
- Adrenal Cocktail – This Orange Juice creamsicle offers a boost in energy and helps regulate blood sugar. This is great for those of you who are feeling pretty depleted and have low cortisol levels. http://gingernewtrition.com/the-adrenal-cocktail-creamsicle/
The most important change that I see clients make in order to restore hormonal balance is a mindset change. When you discover that your fast-paced lifestyle is depleting your vital reserve it is time to reconsider your priorities. What activities or people are recharging you and which of those are stealing all of your energy? Can anything be re-arranged in your schedule or life to minimize the things that are depleting you?
I hope this helps!! I would love any feedback on what else has worked for you.
About the Author:
Megan Rand is a health coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner who work with clients in a 4 month 1-on-1 program using functional lab work (hormones, neurotransmitters, gut health etc.) to help clients discover underlying imbalances. She believes in a holistic approach that doesn’t require deprivation to get results. This includes not only eating REAL food but also recognizing the effects of lifestyle choices, exercise, sleeping patterns, relationships, spirituality and connecting with our environment. Visit her site: GingerNewtrition.com
Don’t forget to join us on our 15-day Love Your Liver Spring Detox, which Megan created. A group is starting together on May 14th (we’ll both be participating). Here’s what you can expect from the 15-day program:
- Eliminate foods that are wreaking havoc on your body and creating unwanted bloat
- Learn which foods fuel your body, as well as those that leave you feeling tired and foggy
- Reduce or alleviate gas and bloating
- Improve your digestion and started experiencing regular bowel movements
- Properly absorbed and assimilated your foods so that your digestion and metabolism are at peak performance
- Eliminate sugar or coffee cravings that leave you feeling tired
- Reduce inflammation that leads to bloating, headaches, and poor digestion
- Learn tools to de-stress in the real world
- Start feeling grounded, alert, powerful, and ready to take on the world of eating clean in your everyday life
- Jumpstart and reboot your metabolism
More Adrenal Resources
Hayley’s grandfather (you know him from the introduction to Make it Paleo) is a very talented practitioner, located in Los Angeles, who leads a practice that blends traditional and alternative medicine. We have consulted with him on a medical basis for years, and his balanced approach has always led to positive results. In addition to seeing patients, he also has a great adrenal supplement that he developed over the last few years that we both take and love, called Primal Boost.
2. The Adrenal Reset Diet book by Alan Christianson, NMD
I recently read this book cover to cover, and really appreciated Dr. Christianson’s clarity and approach to healing the adrenals. He presents the information in a way that’s clear and not at all scary. Everyone should read this book, because even if it doesn’t apply to you, it certainly applies to someone you know.