Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day 8 - 10 Days to a Healthier You in 2012!

Day 8 - Adrenal Support

In today’s busy lifestyle the adrenals tend to be 2 of the most overworked glands in your body.  They manufacture and release the hormones we refer to as “stress hormones” including adrenaline and cortisol.  These hormones send out signals to the body to alert it and get it ready to either stand and fight or run away from danger.  These hormones increase heart rate, cause muscles to contract, increase respiration and blood sugars while inhibiting most body functions including digestion, urine production, growth, reproduction and the immune system.

Now days our stressors often stem from our jobs, our dealings with traffic, family issues and financial concerns.  If stressors are frequent or sustained over long periods throughout the day you can imagine just how much damage it can do to your body.  Over time stress contributes to heart disease, autoimmune dysfunction, poor concentration, memory loss, excess abdominal weight, sleep disturbances, irritability and eventually complete exhaustion.

Once you understand the way stress effects your body it’s easy to see that our work is to learn to respond to stress rather than react to it.  We can enhance our ability to relax, take a breath and respond through simple breathing exercises, meditation, exercise and even what and when we eat.

Caffeine, sugar laden and high carb “junk” foods as well as any food we are even mildly allergic to create even more stress in the body.  They each have a negative effect on blood sugars causing quick spikes and quick drops, which also creates more stress on the body. 

So the optimal way to combat stress is to eat 3 balanced meals and 3 snacks that include fresh veggies, fruit, quality lean protein, healthy fats and high fiber foods.  Eating high quality foods frequently keeps blood sugars balanced and that alone reduces stress considerably.

Beverages and Herbs that Provide Support to the Adrenals:
Other considerations include limiting caffeinated beverages by switching from coffee to green tea, herbal tea and preferably water after 2 pm.  Ginseng, ginger and mint teas are refreshing, provide an energy boost and even support the adrenals.  While chamomile, lavender, poppy seed, oat straw and lemon balm teas are calming and relaxing.

Smoothies containing greens as well as fresh or frozen fruits and protein powders without added sugars can be the perfect snack foods to increase nutrition, lower cortisol and balance blood sugars without much preparation.  I find it easiest to make a 2 serving size and store one in the refrigerator for later in the day. 

Keep small bags of mixed raw nuts and seeds mixed with just a few small pieces of dried apples or apricots in your purse or briefcase for a quick snack.  Other quick snacks to keep on hand are kale chips, sturdy varieties of fresh fruit and foil pouches of nut butter.  These can be combined for vary satisfying, high nutrition and low cost options.

Foods that Provide Support the Adrenals:
All green, leafy vegetables
Nutritional yeast
Sweet Potatoes
Pumpkin and Squash
Dark colored beans
Coconut oil

Armed with all of that info, here is today's delicious smoothie, a recipe for one of my favorite side dishes and a few techniques all designed to de-stress your mind, your body and your spirit while providing needed support for your tired adrenals!

Berry Delicious Smoothie
This smoothie is packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and flavor!  Drink this one on a day when you simply need a little energy boost!
Yield – 2 servings

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cherries
1/2 apple
4 Romaine lettuce leaves
2 kale leaves
1/4 teaspoon spirulina
1 teaspoon tahini
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons Garden of Life Raw Meal
1 tablespoon Garden of Life Raw Fiber
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 cup pH 9.5 ionized water

Roughly chop apple, kale and lettuce then place in VitaMix or other powerful blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.  If you are using fresh fruit you may want to add a little ice to create a thicker, creamier smoothie.

Menu Suggestion:

Swiss Chard Ribbons in a Tahini-Red Onion & Tamari Sauce
This is a super fast and delicious way to serve Swiss chard.  My friend Christina Wilson introduced me to this fabulous dish many years ago and I have made it very regularly since that first bite!  It literally takes about 6 minutes from start to finish but no one would ever guess that there are so few ingredients and so much flavor.  Serve with grilled salmon or quinoa pilaf for a wonderful and complete meal.
Yield – 2-3 generous servings

2 teaspoons Orange Infused Olive Oil
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 large bunch Swiss chard
1 cup diced red onions
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon San-J Gluten Free, Low Sodium Tamari
3 tablespoons pH 9.5 ionized water
1/4 teaspoon black sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon brown sesame seeds

In a deep skillet with a tightly fitting lid, heat oils.  Add red onion and 1 tablespoon water, cover, stir occasionally until soft. 
Meanwhile separate stems from the leaves of the chard.  Thinly slice stems and add to skillet with onions.  Cut leaves into 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide ribbons and add to skillet, cover and cook just until they begin to wilt.

In a small bowl mix remaining water, tamari and tahini until it forms a smooth sauce.  Pour over greens and onions and turn until well coated.

Place on a warm serving platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Technique of the Day:
Do 5-10 minutes of gentle stretching, put on some relaxing music, light some candles and take a hot sea salt and lavender bath followed by 8 hours of sleep beginning before 11pm!

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