By Anne Ferrier Crook
As Spring season approaches, I would like to introduce you to some wonderful foods to revitalize your energy, from the inside out.
In light of this, I would also like to mention a growing epidemic in our modern life where these nourishing foods can be especially beneficial. Adrenal Fatigue, otherwise known as stress burnout, is a regular phenomenon in our culture with 80% of Americans experiencing it on some level.
Often times, our bodies have been in a state of depletion for so long that we don’t even recognize the symptoms, and because we are constantly on the go, we assume it is normal. In turn, we avoid hearing the deeper messages in our body to slow down and rejuvenate.
It is only when we encounter a health crisis or major upheaval in our lives that we stop to actually listen, and learn that the power to create life balance lies right inside us. This requires looking at ALL aspects of our lives, not just the food we eat, but the other type of “primary foods” that nourish our spirit at a deeper level.
Some examples of primary food are the quality of our relationships, our career, physical activity, and spirituality.
How are these aspects of your life nourishing you at a deeper level? Are they draining your energy, or fueling your well-being with JOY and vitality? We must look at these different nutrients in our lives, simultaneously, while addressing the quality of food we eat, and feed our bodies.
So before providing you some nutritional tools, I would like to give a brief overview of adrenal fatigue.
Your adrenal glands are two walnut shaped glands that sit on top of each kidney. These two glands are responsible for making many hormones that help us to handle stress, keep our moods balanced, and our reproductive systems working correctly. When we encounter stress, they produce the hormone cortisol to reduce this response. This is normal, as we need cortisol to handle emergencies.
However, the stress response is designed to be short-term with a fairly quick return to a relaxed state. So, it is when cortisol becomes chronic that these tiny glands get depleted.
Unfortunately, our adrenals do not know the difference between a true emergency and the chronic stress we are under in modern society, like sitting in a traffic jam or rushing to make that last minute deadline.
Many of us stay revved up all day in a ‘fight-or-flight’ mode.
So when cortisol stays elevated like that, our adrenals become fatigued and start to run low on resources. Over time, this becomes a vicious cycle and can lead to a downward spiral in our health and vitality. There is good news, however. Adrenal fatigue can be reversed, and the power to reclaim your vibrant health lies right inside you!
So now, I would like to provide some nutritional tools to begin your journey back to health, and get you on the right track.
In short, we need to fuel our bodies with proper nutrition and eat real whole foods that come from the Earth. These are the nutrient-dense foods that revitalize our energy, and nourish our bodies for greater well-being.
Start to think of your FOOD AS MEDICINE.
There is no more powerful medicine than our food and lifestyle to create vitality, thriving moods, and joyful living.
First, I will start with greens – Glorious Greens!
Greens are the primary food group that matches human nutritional needs most completely.
Their color is associated with spring, which is a time to renew and refresh our energy. They also reduce the demand on our digestion, in addition to providing us this vital energy.
When our bodies don’t have to process heavy foods and toxins, we feel energetic and invigorated.
Leafy greens are densely packed with nutrients and oxygen, and are super high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, and zinc. They are also crammed full of fiber, protein, folic acid, chlorophyll, and many other micronutrients.
Members of this royal green family include kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, arugula, mustard greens, spinach, beet greens and broccoli. Greens also aid in purifying the blood, strengthening the immune system, fighting depression, clearing up congestion, and restoring gall bladder and kidney function. The benefits are endless!
Second, I would like to mention Living and Raw Foods.
These foods are loaded with enzymes for proper digestion, so give your body a rest from having to use all of its own enzymes for digesting food. The more raw food you eat, the more alive you feel, as these plant foods are living, and provide vital energy to your body.
Having healthy digestion is directly connected to your brain function, and having balanced moods.
Did you know that 90% of serotonin (the “happy pleasure center” in your brain) is produced in the gut? When you eat lots of raw foods rich in enzymes, this creates more space for rejuvenation of cells, and creates more vibrant energy.
Some raw foods are fermented which are loaded with probiotics and microorganisms to nourish your intestinal tract. This makes it easier for absorption so all those nutrients get delivered to your brain. Some examples of these fermented foods are sauerkraut, raw cultured vegetables, coconut water kefir, raw cultured yogurt, and Kombucha beverage. They fuel your digestive tract with proper microorganisms, so your brain has better access to receive the vital nutrients it needs for balanced moods.
For incorporating more raw food into your diet, you can include fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, sprouts, herbs, and seaweed. For seeds, try sprinkling pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, or flax seeds onto brown rice or salad dishes. It tastes delicious, and it’s super healthy!
It is also wonderful to add Super Foods into our diet, like acai and goji berries, which are packed with living nutrients. Important to note: Because raw foods give your digestion a rest, this also reduces inflammation in the body, which is the leading cause of illness and disease. So with reduced inflammation, your body can return to its natural healing process for detoxification and good health. Definitely worth taking note.
In addition to greens and raw foods, another excellent source of nutrient-dense foods are Whole Grains and Legumes.
For grains, you can eat quinoa, brown rice, millet, and oatmeal. Try to avoid the processed foods that come in a package, as they are loaded with sugar and chemicals, creating additional stress in the body. This wreaks havoc on our health.
It is also best to avoid white rice when choosing your grains, as it creates a blood sugar spike, and causes many of the undesirable symptoms of blood sugar imbalance. On the contrary, quinoa is a fabulous alternative because not only does it have fiber that slows down the blood sugar spike, but it is also loaded with protein and B-vitamins. As many of you know, B-vitamins are the most important vitamin to buffer stress!
When choosing your legumes, a great choice would be lentils, adzuki beans, black beans, kidney and garbanzo beans. It is always best to buy your beans in bulk, and soak them overnight before cooking. Getting your beans in a can results in high sodium content, so eat them fresh.
These whole grains and legumes are a great addition to our diet. They provide us protein and fiber, while also giving us the more stable and grounding energy we need to feel energized and balanced.
Eating smaller portions throughout the day, making sure to include protein with carbohydrates is essential. This requires not skipping meals, and especially not skipping breakfast.
Breakfast, as you know, is the most important meal of the day — for all kinds of reasons! So by eating smaller portions more frequently, it keeps your blood sugar balanced, and stabilizes your energy throughout the day. Remember that blood sugar imbalance can be directly tied to adrenal fatigue, weight gain, and all sorts of illness and disease. So, take it step-by-step, and remember it’s about slow and steady progress.
Obviously, there are many other foods I can discuss for revitalizing our energy. However, this article provides a great start to getting you on the right track. Incorporating these whole foods from the Earth will fuel your palette and well¬being on all levels.
The good news is that you can start NOW to create greater health and vitality.
It all starts with that first step. I have an easy step-by-step process to get things back into balance, and help you return to thriving health and JOY without all the overwhelm. It involves all of these nourishing foods that revitalize your energy, including self-care and guided support for creating greater life balance that leaves you feeling fabulous!
My 90-day Intensive Program, Revitalize Your Energy, provides this wonderful foundation. The truth is that your greatest challenge is actually your greatest GIFT. I would love to support you in unraveling the stress from your life, and getting back to your radiant health. To learn more, you may visit my website: www.integrativeradiance.com. May this spring be the beginning of your own renewal into thriving health and joyful living!