Adrenal Fatigue… real or fake?

This week is International Stress Awareness Week. The World Health Organization is calling ‘stress’ the health epidemic of the 21st Century.   And yet, the medical profession is slow to recognize or treat ‘adrenal fatigue’ or ‘burn out’ as a real condition.

Introduction 

Persistent fatigue and tiredness are some of the most common symptoms that drive people to seek the help of a doctor.  Often the doctor finds it hard to come up with a diagnosis.  She may take your medical history, carry out a physical exam and do some blood tests.  Often this yields no explanation.    To complicate things further for the doctor, fatigue may be linked to thyroid dysfunction, anaemia, fibromyalgia, M.E. and various other conditions.  If he is testing solely for adrenal dysfunction, he’ll be looking for the extremely low ‘hypo’ or extremely high ‘hyper’ production of cortisol, for a diagnosis of Addison’s disease or Cushing’s Syndome, but anywhere outside of these ranges will not deliver a diagnosis.  Neither do the Endocrinology Society and other medical specialties recognize this condition.  Your doctor is in a bit of a dilemma.  At best, he may not think you are neurotic and may accept that your symptoms are real.   At worse, the doctor thinks you are depressed or neurotic and if so you may walk away with a prescription for anti-depressants.  This now becomes your dilemma because with no diagnosis there is no treatment.  But what if you do have adrenal fatigue, you are not depressed and there is another way?  We place so much of our trust and hope in our doctors, often they are in a position to help us and just as often they are not.  But here’s the good news, that doctor may not yet be aware that in other streams of medical practice namely ‘functional and complimentary medicine’, adrenal dysfunction is recognized and it can be tested and treated as a real condition.

Continue reading “Adrenal Fatigue… real or fake?”

DIM Vegetables

Diindolylmethane, or DIM, is a compound that is formed in your body during the digestion of foods that contain the nutrient indole-3-carbinol.  Indole-3-carbinol is found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.  Eating these foods, therefore, provides your body with DIM.  DIM supports the liver in detoxifying and removing harmful molecules including carcinogens, from the body.

Source: Google Images

The vegetables in this photo look very inviting but if you are anything like me you will need some convincing and to be a little more creative in their use.  I’m definitely not a fan of overcooked broccoli, cabbage or Brussels sprouts. YUCK!!  What’s that smell?  But apparently, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Since finding out how beneficial these vegetables are for hormone balance and cancer prevention, I’m finding new and tasty ways to get them in.

How does cauliflower curry soup sound?  There are lots of recipes out there for cauliflower rice as a substitute for rice.  White cabbage can make up a healthy coleslaw.  Not forgetting that a couple of spoonfuls of Sauerkraut on your salad or dinner also ticks this box.

Chopping or chewing cruciferous vegetables results in the formation of these bio-active products. Eating them either raw, lightly sautéed, quickly stir-fried, or steamed is best to retain the full array of nutrients.  If you wish to experiment with them raw, try juicing, fresh salads, marinated salads, and adding sprouts or greens to your sandwiches. But the most important thing is to eat more of them!  Individuals with thyroid function concerns should consume these vegetables mostly cooked (vs. raw).

There are lots of different cruciferous vegetables to choose from, so if you’re including these wonderful vegetables as a regular part of your diet, be sure to keep up the variety.

Apart from the well known and often quoted varieties like broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, there are also the less published members of this family, namely:

Rocket;  bok choy;  garden cress;  kale (all colours);  horseradish;  mustard seeds (all colours);  turnip root and greens;  watercress;  real wasabi and  radish, greens and sprouts.

These recipes look amazing  – Dr Oz Cruciferous Veggie Recipes

The Fat Factor

When you hear the word ‘fat’ you don’t automatically think of the macronutrient ‘fat’.   Fat can also refer to fat in the body or to someone carrying excess weight.  We can distinguish carbohydrate and protein as food groups more easily than fat.  Protein is involved in muscle growth in the body but we don’t call it ‘muscle’. Talking about fat can therefore be confusing but from this point on, I am referring to fat ‘the macronutrient’ as a constituent of food!  In college we had an information sheet for clients called ‘Fat Phobia’.  Interesting title!  Before I read it I thought it must be about ‘a fear of becoming fat’.  It turns out the phobia is a fear of eating foods containing fat.  If you are now thinking ‘isn’t that the same thing’ then I hope by the time you have finished reading this blog your perception will have changed. This assumption that fat makes you fat is outdated and untrue.  You need fat!  The right fat!  There is not just one type of fat but many, and as with all food groups there is the good and the best avoided varieties.  It is vital to know the difference.  Fat phobia is real and many people are on a mission to eliminate fat in order to lose weight, not realizing how important it is for their health.  Choosing quality over quantity and making small dietary adjustments could make a big difference to your health.  Read on to learn more about your dietary fat factors!!

Continue reading “The Fat Factor”

The Sunshine Vitamin D

As part of my Nutritional Therapy course I had to complete a scientific review of current research on the impact a single nutrient might have on a specific disease.   I chose Vitamin D and Osteoporosis [OP].  I wanted to answer the question ‘does current research show that adequate levels of Vitamin D have a positive impact on OP’?   Turns out that it does!   Not surprising I hear you say!  Most of us already know from TV commercials that Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones and to absorb calcium.  But how much is adequate?   I discovered there are many and widely differing opinions on this and just when I thought I had this bit figured out, I learned that no vitamin works in isolation in the body anyway.   Plus, there are so many factors other than nutrients involved in disease progression.   I found out Vitamin D is not even a vitamin really!   It was designated a ‘vitamin’ based on its role as a dietary factor that aided in the cure of rickets.  It is now understood to be more ‘hormone like’ in its action.   Did you know, it is difficult to get adequate Vitamin D through diet alone?  Vitamin D is not even required in the diet if there is sufficient sunlight to allow its production from pro-Vitamin D molecules in the skin.  It is made in the body with its own Vitamin D receptors [VDRs].  For this reason it could be classified as a hormone rather than a vitamin (a vital amine).  Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide epidemic across all ages, genders and geographic locations with multiple implications on human health, due to its role in various bodily systems.   Even if you can avail of adequate year round sun-exposure on bare skin, the time of day, the colour of your skin and your age will also influence how much Vitamin D your body can produce.   A Nutritional Therapist seldom recommends a single vitamin but Vitamin D could be the exception to that rule.  Deficiency has an impact on so many body systems yet symptoms of deficiency are not very obvious.  The only way to really know if you are deficient is to take a 25(OH)D blood test.   Are you getting enough of the ‘Sunshine’ Vitamin?  Let me help you figure it out!

Continue reading “The Sunshine Vitamin D”