Nutrition and adrenal health: Here’s what Nicole from Healthy Mom Handbook says about it
Lowered adrenal function and adrenal fatigue are ubiquitous today among men and women, especially pregnant women.
If a mother is experiencing adrenal fatigue she will birth babies with weakened adrenals, which means they are born immunocompromised and more prone to infections.
Adrenal dysfunction can cause preeclampsia, high blood pressure and high blood sugar which can lead to gestational diabetes. It’s never too late to repair your adrenals but these glands can take one to two years to completely heal, so be patient in your journey.
The good news is you can do most of what is needed to regain your adrenal health yourself. If you are constantly under stress, the adrenals (which sit atop the kidneys) will keep pumping out hormones which exhausts these important glands leading to adrenal fatigue.
I personally suffered from adrenal fatigue for decades and successfully repaired them. One symptom is constantly feeling tired no matter how much sleep you get and/or having an afternoon slump where you are dragging. Other symptoms include craving sweet or salty snacks, needing caffeine daily as a pick me up, chronic infections or often sick, low libido, having trouble staying asleep or waking up in the middle of the night, high and low blood pressure, mental fog and poor memory, depression and less enjoyment with life.
Most people are not aware they have adrenal fatigue especially because conventional medical doctors are often not aware of it. They only recognize Addison’s disease, which is the most extreme end of low adrenal function. Astute doctors, naturopaths and holistic doctors who are familiar with the varying degrees of decreased adrenal function usually test adrenal hormone levels with a saliva test. Once you receive results, your recovery depends on your lifestyle, how you spend your energy and how you conserve it. Too much exercise and the wrong kind of exercise can have a negative impact on your adrenal health.
What you put in your body; the food, the drinks, your thoughts and the people you are surrounded by all have a huge impact on repairing your adrenals. In many cases of adrenal fatigue, poor diet is the main culprit. During pregnancy, poor nutrition can have a negative impact on both mom and baby’s health.
The right nutrition not only provides mom-to-be and her growing fetus with nourishment but it also helps to heal and support adrenal function. If your diet is high in junk food, sugar and caffeine this places a lot of stress on the adrenals and it also deprives them and your fetus of important nutrients needed for optimal function and long-term health.
Listed below are recommendations safe for pregnant women, they also protect and sustain good adrenal function:
1) Eating real unadulterated foods is best for mom and baby-to be, it also puts less toxic load on the adrenals and fetus. Avoid eating processed foods and shop for organic and pasture-raised animals and their products.
When we ingest pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, hormones and antibiotics we are doing more harm to our bodies and our babies. Many studies link pesticides, like Round Up, to autism, birth defects, cancer and more. The less processed your food the better your health and your baby’s health.
2) Focus on getting all 3 macros in each time you eat. The 3 macros are proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Do not fear fat! Healthy fats are needed for that growing fetus, optimal adrenal function and breastfeeding.
An example of that would be pastured chicken thighs with organic leafy greens and other veggies tossed in cold-pressed organic pumpkin seed oil and lemon juice. You could even add in organic roasted potatoes cooked in pastured lard seasoned to your liking with sea salt.
3) Foods like raw dairy/milk, pastured liver and organ meats, grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured eggs, wild seafood, and butter from grass-fed cows are just a few real unadulterated foods that will support mom, baby-to-be and adrenal function during preconception, pregnancy and even post-pregnancy.
These foods contain real food forms of vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K, all which support mom and baby’s health along with adrenal function. It’s always safer to opt for real food over supplements. Although there are top quality supplements I have successfully used myself and recommended to clients to support adrenal health, you cannot beat real unadulterated nourishing foods while pregnant.
4) Be sure to eat 4-5 small meals a day and avoid going more than 3-4 hours without eating. I know when pregnant some women may not feel like eating or they may need to eat every hour (like I did).
Journal your food and listen to your body’s needs for food, hydration and rest. Not eating enough food or every 3-4 hours can negatively affects cortisol levels which can in turn effect blood sugar. Cortisol is produced by the adrenals, cholesterol which we get from healthy saturated fats are necessary for cortisol production. So it isn’t just one thing but a plethora of things that will support the adrenals, mom-to-be and her growing fetus.
5) Consider using sea salt instead of table salt! Our adrenals need salt. Sea salt has the trace minerals our bodies need to function optimally.
6) Rest! I cannot stress this enough. I work with so many clients and most of them are doing TOO much. Too much exercise, too much running around, too much worrying. Easier said than done, right? Change is not easy but when you are pregnant it is such a critical time where all women need to slow down a bit, especially if suffering from adrenal dysfunction.
7) Avoid medications and synthetic vitamins for adrenal dysfunction. Adapotogens, such as Rhodiala can help your adrenals to resist stress and fatigue, which is safe to use before and during pregnancy. I am currently using Rhodiala and I am breastfeeding my son who is almost 3 years old. I was on a different adaptogen while pregnant and a different one when I took my first adrenal test back in 2009. I have never experienced any reverse reactions then or now.
Growing a human is tough stuff and requires more of the right nourishing foods along with lots of rest, which are beneficial to mom, baby-to-be and the adrenal glands .We are all just as unique on the inside as we are on the outside. Being healthy is hard work and a never-ending journey. With consistency and patience the right foods and lifestyle changes can heal so much.
For more information on preconception, pregnancy and post-pregnancy nutrition, workouts, birth planning and more visit http://www.healthymomhandbook.com