Hungry? Have Some Healthy Snacks and Treats

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avocado snack

The word snack often sounds like a bad word. Truth is, snacks can be a big help. When snacking properly you can actually speed up your metabolism, increase energy, reduce cravings for unhealthy foods, and avoid overeating at meals.

During the day you should eat every 2-3 hours to balance your blood sugar levels, and this is especially important if you lead an active lifestyle. Your blood sugar levels are only as good as the meal you last consumed, and that is why eating smaller meals more frequently is a smart decision for active people.

Of course, what you snack on matters. Dipping into the ice cream or munching on potato chips isn’t ideal. In fact, snacking on junk food and other nutrient-void foods does much more harm than good. Here are some healthy, beneficial snack ideas:

  • Fresh rice cakes (unsalted, plain or sesame seed – Japanese rice cakes are also recommended)
  • Oat cakes or non-wheat bread with hummus, tahini, guacamole, goat’s cheese, nut butter or honey
  • Homemade popcorn is another good snack food, but try to eat it plain or with a light sprinkle of sea salt
  • Cherry tomatoes with a few chunks of goat’s cheese
  • Half an avocado sprinkled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Mixed nuts and seeds (like a small handful of a mixture of Brazil nuts, almonds, hazel nuts and walnuts)
  • Add roasted sesame, sunflower or pumpkin seeds to various vegetarian or meat dishes, or just grab some for a quick snack (these can also help stimulate digestion and improve bowel function)
  • Cashew nut patties are a delicious high protein snack
  • Healthy pancakes, made from brown rice and tapioca flours
  • Raw vegetables served with tahini, hummus or guacamole
  • A fresh juice, smoothie or non-dairy milk shake
  • Fresh fruit salad – melon, kiwifruit, grapes, apple, pear, etc. (Be mindful of fruit, especially when dealing with adrenal fatigue. Go for fruits with lower fructose. If it makes you feel worse, avoid it.)
  • Hummus – a healthy chickpea and tahini snack which is a perfect food to accompany finger foods such as carrot, celery and cucumber sticks
  • Gomashio is a simply delicious and highly addictive Japanese condiment made from roasted sesame seeds and sea salt, which can be used as a food topper or eaten alone as a snack

Nuts and Seeds

Roasted nuts and seeds may taste better, but raw versions tend to be much healthier. Store nuts and seeds in a cool area, as their high fat content can cause rancidity. In fact, you are best to freeze nuts to delay rancidity and oxidation.

Seeds are generally best in some type of bar for ease of eating. The best nuts in my opinion are almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts. In my opinion peanuts are not the best choice, as they tend to cause the most allergic reactions. Incidentally, they are a legume and not a nut.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the ready-to-eat snack foods straight from nature. Apples, pears, oranges, carrots, peas in the pod, celery and tomatoes are healthy hunger busters. Some of your best choices are small (or a half a large) avocado, celery or carrot strips, radishes, and strips of red bell pepper along with some hummus for dipping.

Breakfast Cereals

There are some healthy breakfast cereals available for snacking, but check the sugar content closely. It is better if you make your own muesli or granola, and the recipe varieties are endless. Be sure to select the freshest ingredients from your local health food store. Check out the recipe for  Healthy Oat Cereal for example, or my own Bakker’s Muesli.

Instead of just plain old homemade popped corn, save time by picking up a pack of naturally puffed millet, puffed brown rice or puffed yellow corn from the health section of your supermarket. The puffed golden millet includes the millet germ. They have no sugar, salt or artificial additives and taste terrific with a health topping like smoked salmon, cheese or avocado. It doesn’t have to be boring; just use your imagination!

Avoid Sugary Snacks

Maintaining a healthy diet means (virtually) abstaining from sweet foods – lollies, cakes, desserts, and the like, as their primary ingredients have be found to be less than wholesome. Sugary snack foods upset nutritional balances and moods, so, with our busy lifestyles, having the right healthy snack food on hand is vital.

Stay Hydrated

Healthy drinks include pure water, prune juice, pure vegetable and fruit juices and spirulina, which are nice to sip during the day. Most of your hydration should come from water. Staying hydrated can itself ward off ‘false hunger’ and help maintain energy levels.

First-Aid Snack Kit 

A snack first aid kit at the office or in the pantry for after school will ensure you have a constant source of nutritious goodies to dissuade against junk purchases. Only a limited amount of branded supermarket snack bars (but most are junk and you are best to make your own) can be included to reduce kitchen tasks, but  check the nutritional labels for fat and sugar content, as some are not as healthy as they appear.

Those with blood sugar problems especially need to be aware of the sugar content in snack bars in the form of glucose, honey and fructose and dried fruits.  These bars come in variety of nut and seed mixtures and can be honey sweetened and carob or yogurt coated. Some include dried fruits such as apricot, almond and cashew. Watch out for the artificial sugars!

dr eric bakkerAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 27 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida, psoriasis, as well as adrenal fatigue, thyroid and digestive disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. He has also written what may well be the most comprehensive Natural Psoriasis Treatment Program available. You can find more articles by Dr. Bakker on his blog at www.ericbakker.com

 

What Not to Eat When You Have Adrenal Fatigue

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sugared donuts

It is hard to say which is more important when you have adrenal fatigue – what to eat or what not to eat! Eating the wrong foods or combination of foods can throw you off for hours and even days, so do not even try to sneak something by; it is just not worth the price you have to pay. In this blog I outline the types of foods that are best left alone, and why.

The Addictive Cycle of Sugar and White Flour Products

Ironically, foods made with these ingredients such as doughnuts, rolls, pies, cakes, cookies, crackers, candy bars, and soft drinks are the ones that many people suffering from adrenal fatigue crave. This is because when you have adrenal fatigue you also usually have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and foods made from refined flour and/or sugar quickly raise your blood sugar. Unfortunately, they raise your blood sugar so high and so fast that too much insulin is released in response. This excess insulin then causes your blood sugar levels to crash, leading to hypoglycemic symptoms and more cravings. Furthermore, sugar and white flour are entirely naked calories, the metabolism of which drains an already depleted body of the vitamins and minerals it needs to heal or to maintain.

If you replace the items made with white flour like pies, cakes, cookies, crackers, most desserts, commercial breads and pastas, and all caffeine containing or sweet drinks like sodas with foods that contain nutrients and not just energy, you will quit robbing your body of what it needs. More than that, you will be able to get off the perpetual hypoglycemic roller coaster ride that leaves you fatigued, inefficient, and aging more quickly inside.

The Evils of Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats are oils that have been altered chemically to have certain properties (like remaining solid at room temperature) that have nothing to do with your health. Three common examples are vegetable shortening, margarine and the oil in commercial peanut butters. These adulterated fats are used in almost all commercially prepared food items found in grocery stores and in many restaurant foods.

The good fats are those that the body can use to build tissue, such as nerve and cell wall membranes, and the bad fats are the ones that block this from happening. When you eat foods containing hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats they disrupt normal fatty acid metabolism in your body. They use up the enzymes that normally would be utilized by the good oils, and prevent your body from creating quality cell membranes and nerve sheaths. As a result, your body cannot transform essential fatty acids into the materials it needs to make various cell wall components and other structures.

Any time you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils or fats, put that food back on the shelf and do not buy it. Alternatives are available in health food stores and in the grocery store, if you look carefully. Even though you may crave these familiar foods, eating them seriously interferes with your ability to heal. What you are really craving are the essential fatty acids.

Avoid Deep Fried Foods

Most deep fried foods are fried in hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. These fats are kept at high temperatures and are often reused. As the oil is heated above a certain temperature or reheated, it breaks down, forming toxic free radicals and becoming rancid. This means that eating deep fried food causes not only the same problems as hydrogenated fats, but also the additional problems created by toxic free radicals. Because free radicals are produced when oils break down with heat, you should also avoid food fried in oils high in essential fatty acids (cold pressed sunflower, flax, peanut, safflower, etc.) or any foods fried at a high temperature or for long periods of time.

Avoid “Fast” Foods and Junk Foods

There are numerous problems with typical fast food and junk food. They all contain white flour, sugar, hydrogenated fats, or all three. Often their ingredients are poor quality with little nutrient value, and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives are used to make up for this. What nutrients they do have are frequently lost while they are kept hot or stored for long periods of time. It is questionable whether some junk foods are even food at all. You do not need these “foods,” as they only create havoc with your biochemistry, make you fat, and leave you feeling wrecked.

Avoid Foods That Trigger Allergies or Sensitivities

It is important to completely eliminate all foods and food substances that trigger allergies or sensitivities. Unless there is an anaphylactic reaction (cannot breathe) or hives, most people are not aware that their symptoms may be a reaction to a food they are sensitive too. For more on the role these foods play in your health, read our blog series on identifying and eliminating food allergies and sensitivities.

The Hidden Message in Chocolate Cravings

If you have a piece of chocolate once or twice a year, you can probably skip this section. However, if you crave chocolate, would almost be willing to kill for chocolate, or if chocolate is a coveted part of your diet, then you need to read this. A craving for chocolate can sometimes actually be your body’s craving for magnesium, since chocolate contains large amounts of magnesium. This is especially true in women who crave chocolate before they menstruate or who have PMS. Magnesium helps mediate the symptoms of PMS because it is intimately involved in the manufacture of progesterone. A lack of magnesium can lead to inadequate progesterone levels, producing the PMS symptoms. In the body’s wisdom, it craves chocolate because chocolate is rich in magnesium. The unfortunate aspect, however, is that chocolate is also high in caffeine and a caffeine-like substance, theobromine, that over stimulate the adrenals leading to further adrenal fatigue.

Dr. James L. WilsonAbout the Author: With a researcher’s grasp of science and a clinician’s understanding of its human impact, Dr. Wilson has helped many physicians understand the physiology behind and treatment of various health conditions. He is acknowledged as an expert on alternative medicine, especially in the area of stress and adrenal function. Dr. Wilson is a respected and sought after lecturer and consultant in the medical and alternative healthcare communities in the United States and abroad. His popular book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome has been received enthusiastically by physicians and the public alike, and has sold over 400,000 copies. Dr. Wilson resides with his family in sunny Tucson, Arizona.

Improving Your Adrenal Function to Reduce Inflammation

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healthy foods

This is a continuation of a previous article – Click here to read Part 1 on the link between inflammation, adrenal function and autoimmune disorders

With inflammation, it is in your best interest to improve your adrenal function to its maximum potential. Let’s look at 3 key ways to achieve this:

1: Diet and Lifestyle

One of the best ways to reduce inflammation in the more immediate sense is to change your diet and lifestyle.  If you follow a healthy and balanced diet, you may know the importance of avoiding pro-inflammatory foods and drinks. It is best that you follow a low-inflammatory diet for some time. The pro-inflammatory foods to avoid are alcohol, sodas, candy, red meat, take-out foods, potato chips, deep fried foods, and processed foods in general. You may like to acquaint yourself with the diet outlined in Dr. Wilson’s book, Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. Dr. Wilson has 42 pages on diet and nutrition in the book and I’d recommend you read this section.

Many patients in my clinical experience were found to have added toxic exposure from household cleaners and detergents, various drugs including non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), steroids and antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides, personal care products, petrochemicals, and many more potential toxins. I have found that liver and bowel detoxification is often necessary in most cases when patients show chronic low-grade inflammation. Detoxification allows your body to reduce its toxic burden, reducing the load on an already overburdened immune system.

Any diet high in pro-inflammatory foods, coupled with a lifestyle high in stress and chemical exposure, will most always set the scene for leaky gut syndrome (LGS), and LGS will often pave the way for inflammation and set the stage for autoimmunity, a disease of “no known cause.” This is why Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue Program has a strong focus on diet and lifestyle modifications. Lifestyle recommendations most always include stress-reduction recommendations specific to the patient. Many patients in our clinic have benefited tremendously from the advice this book contains.

2: Focal Infections

The second point is to be on the lookout for any hidden or focal infections. Many patients I have seen have dead or diseased teeth (root canals), mercury toxicity, or a low-grade infection or inflammatory response involving the ileocaecal valve, bowel pockets, candidiasis, SIBO (small bowel overgrowth), low grade infection of the tonsils, appendix or gum issues in the mouth. If in doubt, have it checked out.

3: Treat Adrenal Fatigue

Thirdly, I suspect and treat adrenal fatigue in any patient who has low grade or a chronic inflammation. But before you consider adrenal treatment, I’d like you to seriously consider using the most clinically effective and value for money adrenal fatigue products in the business, products formulated by the doctor who coined the phrase “adrenal fatigue” and who has devoted his entire professional life to clinical adrenal fatigue practice and research, a well respected clinician who has developed the most clinically effective adrenal fatigue treatment protocol in our industry. Since its inception in early 2007, Dr. Wilson’s adrenal fatigue program has set the standard how countless healthcare professionals now treat patients in their clinics both throughout Australia, New Zealand as well in many countries throughout the world since the early 1990’s.

My clinic has now treated almost 6,000 patients utilizing Dr. Wilson’s unique protocols, and we have seen many remarkable outcomes in many autoimmune patients, and in many cases even an actual cessation of steroidal drugs. Yes, it is possible to lessen your dependence on steroids and improve your condition, regardless of how severe your condition is, particularly if you carefully follow the three-point approach above. I would recommend that you visit your healthcare professional who is familiar with Dr. Wilson’s program, especially if you are tired of just treating the symptoms and want to finally address the root causes of your inflammation.

dr eric bakkerAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 25 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida yeast infections, as well as adrenal fatigue, and thyroid disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. Website:  candidacrusher.com  You can complete his online survey to determine if you have a yeast infection here, or link through to his many You Tube videos: www.yeastinfection.org  Dr. Bakker’s Blog:  www.ericbakker.com

Got Stress or Adrenal Fatigue? You’re Going to Need Good Food

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yogurt parfait

Got Stress or Adrenal Fatigue? You’re Going to Need Good Food

As much as we sometimes wish otherwise, proper diet and lifestyle play a critical role in adrenal support. As your adrenal glands respond to stress, the metabolism of your cells speeds up, burning many times the number of nutrients normally required. Good nutrition and well-timed meals and snacks can significantly relieve the strain on your adrenal glands.

Timing Your Meals and Snacks

Even as we sleep, our body has a constant need for energy. One of the jobs of cortisol, the stress hormone, is to act as a blood sugar moderator, making sure it remains ample between meals, and especially at night. Long periods without food and nourishment make your adrenals work harder, which means more cortisol release to help the body function normally. Having 3 nutritious meals, plus 2-3 snacks spread throughout the day, is a great way to help balance blood sugar and decrease the workload on your adrenals. Adding protein to every meal and snack, especially in the morning, can also help balance blood sugar, which in turn can help with cravings for sugar and caffeine.

Choosing the Right Foods

Stress makes it easy to make poor decisions, especially with food choices. For example: crashing hard and running out of energy at work, then reaching for foods like chips, doughnuts, cookies, candy bars, or junk-filled energy bars for a quick fix. These foods contain refined flours and sugars, which our bodies use for a short-lived energy spike. The trouble begins shortly after the spike, with an even greater drop in energy and you feeling worse than before.

Meals and snacks consisting of fresh whole foods — grown without chemicals, hormones or preservatives — are best. Get locally grown and/or organic when you can afford it, and if you have the space at home, grow your own! Home gardening saves money, puts you in control of the growing process, and can be done just about anywhere. Stressing out over preparing and cooking all that food? Consider this: prepare your food on the weekends or in bulk so you have things ready. Being prepared and armed with nutritious foods and snacks will make it a lot easier to avoid making poor food choices and going for quick fixes. Also, don’t let yourself feel guilty if you don’t have perfect homemade meals every day. What’s more important is avoiding junk and foods bad for your adrenal glands, no matter where you eat. Guilt is one of the last things stressed adrenals need!

Enemy, Thy Name is Caffeine

Many men and women use caffeinated beverages like go-go juice, something to keep them propped up and going all day. Caffeine can provide a short-lived boost, but much like refined flours and sugars it can also send the adrenal glands into overdrive, leaving you feeling more drained than before.

Like what you eat, what you choose to drink will either support or put a strain on your adrenals.
People with adrenal fatigue should avoid drinks like coffee, black tea, alcohol, sodas, and energy drinks. Some drinks that can be beneficial are certain teas (green, barley, bancha, herbal blends without black tea), fresh vegetable juices, and water. Staying properly hydrated is a must for anyone, and if you’re dealing with adrenal fatigue, you’ll want to keep close watch on your water consumption.

In order to battle adrenal fatigue and maintain your overall health, you need to stack as many things in your favor as possible. One big factor you can easily stack on your side is choosing foods and eating in a way that supports your adrenal glands. A healthy diet is a foundation of wellness, and an essential part in beating adrenal fatigue.

How to Diagnose and Help Adrenal Fatigue

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How do doctors diagnose adrenal fatigue?

Medicine generally only recognizes Addison’s disease, which is the most extreme end of low adrenal function. Doctors who are familiar with the varying degrees of decreased adrenal function usually test the adrenal hormone levels in your saliva. This is an accurate and useful indicator of adrenal fatigue that is simple and relatively inexpensive. A test kit can be obtained from the lab and the test completed at home by simply spitting into the test tubes 4 times throughout a 24 hour day and filling out an activity sheet to go with the saliva samples. There are other common lab tests that can be used more indirectly to detect adrenal fatigue if the practitioner knows how to interpret them. So if you suspect you are experiencing adrenal fatigue, seek out a healthcare practitioner who is familiar with this problem.

What helps someone with adrenal fatigue?

For most people, a focused program of lifestyle modifications, body-mind practices, specific nutrients and targeted supplementation for adrenal support can help revitalize adrenal function and greatly enhance stress hardiness. In adrenal fatigue, hormone therapy with corticosteroids is usually not necessary or desirable. In fact, taking adrenal steroid hormones suppresses adrenal function and can exacerbate adrenal fatigue. This situation differs from Addison’s disease in which the adrenals are incapable of producing adequate adrenal hormones and an external source is required for continued survival. With adrenal fatigue, the adrenals are still functioning and are capable of returning to optimum with proper support.

What keeps the adrenal glands healthy?

The guidelines for keeping your adrenal glands healthy are very similar to the overall principles of good health but there are a few factors especially important for adrenal support and building stress resilience: Eat regular meals with good quality food that combines balanced amounts of protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates at every meal and snack – including breakfast; avoid sugar and stimulants like caffeine (even though it temporarily makes you feel better, it only depletes your adrenals more); exercise moderately; get adequate rest (go to bed by 9:30 PM and sleep in as long as you can in the morning); learn to manage your stressors. Because modern life is so stressful, nutritional supplements designed specifically for adrenal support may also be a great help.

Recipes – Vegan Black Bean Brownies and Bison with Lentils

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Here are two more allergen- and health-conscious recipes to try out this weekend. An employee brought the brown bean brownies to a company dinner and they were outstanding – a great alternative to traditional brownies. The bison with lentils recipe comes from our very own Scott Brynaert. Enjoy!

Black Bean Brownies

Notes: Rolled oats run through the food processor may substituted for the instant oats. Use optional sugar if your bananas are still green and not very ripe.

black bean brownie by Flickr user Barb HoyerIngredients:

  • 15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 whole bananas
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp.vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup instant oats

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Grease an 8×8″ pan and set aside.
3. Combine all ingredients, except oats, in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, scrapping sides as needed.
4. Stir in the oats and pour batter into the pan. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing. Note: if you find these brownies are too soft or too fudge-y, add another 1/4 cup oats or flour.

 Bison with Lentils

bison stew by Flickr user Jackson CarsonIngredients:

  • 1 lb. bison stew meat, cubed
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/3 tsp. garam masala
  • 6-8 cups water
  • 1-14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1-14 oz. can of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot on low heat, add onions and oil. Let cook for 15-20 minutes until caramelized, stirring occasionally.
2. Add garlic and bison, stirring until bison is browned, then add the lentils.
3. Stir in spices and add the water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer on low for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the kidney beans and simmer for 30 more minutes, or until the lentils are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Image Credits: black bean brownies by Flickr user Barb Hoyer; bison stew by Flickr user Jackson Carson

Yummy Allergen-Free Recipes – Gluten & Dairy Free Muffins

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Here are two gluten- and dairy-free muffin recipes that don’t sacrifice on taste. And with no added fats, these muffins can be enjoyed without that nagging guilt. Enjoy!

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Blueberry Muffins

(prep time 40 minutes, including baking time)

blueberry muffinsIngredients:

  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lemon, grated rind and juice
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup natural honey or agave syrup
  • 3/4 cup rice or soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mace or anise (optional)
  • 2 cups washed and dried blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Lightly coat muffin pan (12 muffins) with nonstick spray or use nonstick muffin liners.
3. Mix or sift flour, baking powder, salt and lemon rind (and mace or anise, if using), making sure there are no big lumps.
4. Make a well in the flour and add eggs. Beat eggs with fork.
5. Add lemon juice, vanilla and honey (or agave syrup) to eggs and beat together.
6. Beat milk into egg mixture with fork.
7. Stir wet and dry ingredients together with a wooden spoon until completely blended.
8. Gently stir in blueberries.
9. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling them almost to top.
10. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned and center springs back when touched.
11. When cool, store in plastic bag. Can be frozen and reheated individually by microwave (50 sec).

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Flourless Almond Muffins

(prep time 40 minutes, including baking time)

almond muffins by Flickr user Kari SullivanIngredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups raw almonds (with skin on), ground fine
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. almond flavoring
  • 1/2 cup natural maple or agave syrup
  • 3/4 cup rice or soy milk
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup raspberry preserves (preferably fruit-sweetened, no sugar) OR lemon curd OR 1 1/2 cups washed and dried raspberries or blackberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mace or anise (optional)
  • 2 cups washed and dried blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly coat muffin pan (12 muffins) with nonstick spray or use nonstick muffin liners.Mix or sift flour, baking powder, salt and lemon rind (and mace or anise, if using), making sure there are no big lumps.

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Lightly coat muffin pan (12 muffins) with nonstick spray or use nonstick muffin liners.
3. Mix ground almonds, baking powder and salt, making sure there are no big pieces of almond.
4. Make a well in the dry mix and add eggs. Beat eggs with fork.
5. Add almond flavoring and maple (or agave syrup) to eggs and beat together.
6. Beat milk into egg mixture with fork.
7. Stir wet and dry ingredients together with a wooden spoon until completely blended.
8. For raspberries: gently stir them in and divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling them almost to top. For jam/lemon curd: divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling them half full.
9. Place 1 tsp. of jam or lemon curd in center of batter in each muffin cup and then add rest of batter.
10. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned and center springs back when touched.
11. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Run a non-metal knife around sides and remove to cooling rack.
12. When cool, store in plastic bag. Can be frozen and reheated individually by microwave (50 sec).

Image Credit: Almond muffins by Flickr user Kari Sullivan

Stress and Nutrition: Avoiding 3 Common Dietary Pitfalls-Part 3

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coffee cug by bed

When you’re under stress, do you fall prey to one of three common dietary pitfalls: skipping meals because you feel like you don’t have time to eat; succumbing to cravings for sugar or fat; or relying on caffeine to try and rev your system? If so, you’re not alone. It’s easy to give in to poor nutritional choices when you’re fatigued and under stress. Unfortunately, although they may feel like a quick fix, these behaviors can create more problems in the long run. In the third of this three part series, I help you identify another pitfall – the overconsumption of caffeine, understand the effects this has on your health and your body’s ability to handle stress, and offer tools you can use to correct this habit.

Pitfall 3 – Relying on caffeine to push you through your day

The problem with doing this:

It’s tempting to rely on caffeine for energy when life is hectic. Trying to balance work, family and personal needs, it’s easy to spread yourself too thin and push to increase the momentum when you should actually rest. If you are experiencing adrenal fatigue, it can be even more difficult to refrain from using something that will give you an energy boost. However, a dependence on caffeine can worsen stress and adrenal fatigue rather than improve the situation.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. (Incidentally, it’s also a natural pesticide found on some plants that paralyzes or kills the critters that try to make the plant dinner.) Under the influence of caffeine, the adrenals – two glands that help orchestrate the body’s stress response system – secrete the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones initiate the fight or flight response, a widespread metabolic shift that prepares your body to deal with a physical stressor. This response increases breathing rate, heart rate, and drives blood and nutrients into your muscles.

Although caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands to produce more of these hormones, it does nothing to support or nourish the glands. Pushing fatigued adrenals with caffeine is like flooring the gas pedal on a car that is running on empty. If you don’t replenish the gas, the car will go faster for a short period of time, but will run out of gas more quickly. Driving fatigued adrenals with artificial stimulants pushes them further into exhaustion faster. Eventually, they may not be able to respond to even an average demand for hormones.

The solution: 

Don’t rely on caffeine to get you through the day. Even though it may be helpful in endurance sports or to stay alert, attempting to buoy fatigued adrenals with it is actually counter-productive. If you are currently hooked on caffeine, cut down on the amount you are consuming a little at a time and try substituting green tea or yerba matte for your coffee or energy drinks. These drinks contain smaller amounts of caffeine and increased amounts of antioxidants that support your body in times of stress. Licorice tea is another great choice. Licorice actually helps maintain cortisol in your body so you get more benefit from the cortisol your adrenals secrete.6 (Most licorice candy is full of sugar and is actually sweetened with anise rather than licorice, so it’s not an effective substitute.) If you choose to wean yourself off of caffeine entirely, be prepared for a few headaches and a little irritability, but both should resolve within a few days.

Now that you’re easing up on the accelerator, add gas to your system. Allow yourself to rest when you’re tired, drink water to stay hydrated, and eat a diet balanced with lean protein sources, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. To support the adrenals, include foods rich in vitamin C such as strawberries, peppers and citrus. B vitamins are absolutely essential to energy production. These are found in foods like dark green leafy vegetables, brewer’s yeast and lentils. Minerals like zinc and magnesium support the adrenals, and can found in nuts, seeds and leafy greens.

Non-dietary energy boosters can help, too. After you’ve been sitting still, even a brief period of exercise or stretching increases circulation and provides nutrients to your brain, revitalizing you. Add some upbeat music to your playlist and turn it on during your energy lull. Music has been shown to enhance both motivation and physical performance.1,2

If you still need some help after trying these dietary and lifestyle modifications, use supplements that support the adrenals rather than a chemical that drains them. Herbs such as ashwaganda, maca, and eleutherococcus (formerly known as Siberian ginseng) can be extremely helpful. These plants are adaptogens – herbs which help the adrenal glands adapt to stress and support their function. They have been shown to increase mental and physical endurance and reduce fatigue.3,4,5 Licorice, which slows the breakdown of cortisol,6 can also be taken as a supplement or tincture (alcohol extract). A complex of B vitamins in balanced ratios helps support energy production.

When dealing with stress and adrenal fatigue, diet can be your greatest ally or your most formidable foe. By keeping blood sugar stable and replacing caffeine, sugar and unhealthy fats with more nutrient dense choices, you can support your adrenal glands during times of stress. If you already have adrenal fatigue, following these few simple steps can move you miles along the road to recovery.

Read Part 1 on Fat and Sugar Cravings

Read Part 2 on Caffeine Dependance

References:

  1. Karageorghis c, Mouzourides DA, Priest DL, Sasso TA, Morrish DJ, Walley CJ. Psychophysical and ergogenic effects of synchronous music during treadmill walking. J Sport Exerc Psychol 2009; 31(1):18-36.
  2. Waterhouse J, Hudson P, Edwards B. Effects of music tempo upon submaximal cycling performance. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2010;20(4):662-9 Epub 2009 Sep 28.
  3. Panossian A and Wikman G. Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity. Curr Clin Pharmacol. 2009 Sep;4(3):198-219.
  4. Archana R, et al.  Antistressor effect of Withania somnifera. J Ethnopharmacol 1999; 64:91-93.
  5. López-Fando A, Gómez-Serranillos MP, Iglesias I et al. Lepidium peruvianum chacon restores homeostasis impaired by restraint stress. Phytother Res. 2004 Jun;18(6):471-474.
  6. MacKenzie MA, Hoefnagels WH, Jansen RW, Benraad TJ, Kloppenborg PW. The influence of glycyrrhetinic acid on plasma cortisol and cortisone in healthy young volunteers. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1990 Jun;70(6):1637-43.

Dr. Lise NaugleAbout the Author: Dr. Lise Naugle is an associate of Dr. James L. Wilson. She assists healthcare professionals with clinical assessment and treatment protocols related to adrenal dysfunction and stress, and questions regarding the use of Doctor Wilson’s Original Formulations supplements. With eleven years in private practice and a focus on stress, adrenals, hormonal balance and mind-body connection, she offers both clinical astuteness and a wealth of practical knowledge. Dr. Naugle also maintains updated information about the latest scientific research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, endocrine balance and nutritional support for stress and develops educational materials about stress and health for clinicians and their patients.


Stress and Nutrition: Avoiding 3 Common Dietary Pitfalls-Part 2

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sugared donuts

When you’re under stress, do you fall prey to one of three common dietary pitfalls: skipping meals because you feel like you don’t have time to eat; succumbing to cravings for sugar or fat; or relying on caffeine to try and rev your system? If so, you’re not alone. It’s easy to give in to poor nutritional choices when you’re fatigued and under stress. Unfortunately, although they may feel like a quick fix, these behaviors can create more problems in the long run. In the second of this three part series, I help you identify another pitfall: the overconsumption of sugar and fat, understand the effects this has on your health and your body’s ability to handle stress, and offer tools you can use to correct this pitfall.

Pitfall 2 – You succumb to sugar or fat cravings

The problem with doing this:    

When your body is stressed, your adrenals (two little glands that sit above the kidneys) secrete adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that help your body handle the stress. These hormones break down stored fuel and increase your heart rate, delivering blood and energy to your muscles to prepare you to either fight a stressor or run from it. They also increase metabolism, causing your body to burn through nutrients at an increased rate. When you are under stress, your hormones and body demand fuel, and it is tempting to grab something sugary for a quick energy boost or something fat-laden for more sustained energy. Unfortunately, although it may provide a temporary solution, the gain is short-lived and may actually do more harm in the long run.

Sugary treats such as cookies, candy, and sugar-filled drinks provide very few (if any) nutrients and only simple sugars. Simple sugars are those that are easily broken down and released quickly into the blood stream. Although this may seem like a good solution to your energy slump, it’s not. The problem is that insulin, a hormone that moves sugar into the cells where it can be used, is secreted by the pancreas in response to the rise in blood sugar. If too much sugar enters your bloodstream too rapidly, insulin may overshoot its target, moving the sugar quickly into your cells and out of your bloodstream, leaving you once again with low blood sugar and more sugar cravings.  To make matters worse, the metabolism of sugar for energy requires B vitamins and other nutrients. If these aren’t provided by the food along with the sugar, the sugar actually robs your body of these nutrients.

This doesn’t only happen with obviously sugary foods; white flour, white rice, and other refined grains are also simple sugars. In other words, any type of grain product (breads, cereal, bagels, crackers, pretzels, or pasta) that doesn’t start with the word “whole” on the ingredient list is metabolized exactly like sugar, raising blood sugar and insulin levels rapidly, and then setting you up for a lower drop in blood sugar after. Fruit juice also provides a high quantity of simple sugars without the benefits of fiber, found in the skin and the pulp, to slow the sugar’s release into the blood. With juice it is also easy to ingest more sugar than you realize. Typically you would probably eat one orange for a snack. If you drink a glass of orange juice, you are ingesting the sugar equivalent of approximately 6 oranges!

(For more about the specifics of adrenals and blood sugar regulation, see Pitfall # 1)

Certain fats, or lipids, are essential to life. French fries, ice cream, and croissants are not. Many processed foods are made with partially hydrogenated oils and trans-fatty acids. Hydrogenation is the process of forcing hydrogen atoms onto a lipid. This improves the fats’ shelf life, but gives them an altered structure that is the opposite of what the body naturally uses. Since lipids are required in the formation of the membranes of all cells and in the synthesis of cortisol, this altered structure causes detrimental effects throughout your body, including your stress management system. In addition, these partially hydrogenated fats, as well as saturated fats (found in high concentrations in red meat and whole fat dairy products), also contribute to inflammation and weight gain, triggering chemical messengers that exacerbate fatigue and foggy thinking.

The solution:

Choose complex carbohydrates over simple sugars. Complex carbs are broken down more slowly and their sugar is released into your bloodstream over a longer period of time. Good choices include beans, lentils, whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as whole oats, brown rice and quinoa. When choosing fats, select natural sources of healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados and fish. These foods are high in omega 3 (good) fats, as well as other nutrients. Use additional fats in moderation. Good choices for oils include fresh virgin olive oil, flax seed oil and expeller-pressed canola oil. In addition to complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, incorporate lean protein sources into each meal or snack to stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings.

Continue to part 3 – Relying on Caffeine to Get Through the Day

Read part 1 – Skipping meals

About the Author

Dr. Lise NaugleDr. Lise Naugle is an associate of Dr. James L. Wilson. She assists healthcare professionals with clinical assessment and treatment protocols related to adrenal dysfunction and stress, and questions regarding the use of Doctor Wilson’s Original Formulations supplements. With eleven years in private practice and a focus on stress, adrenals, hormonal balance and mind-body connection, she offers both clinical astuteness and a wealth of practical knowledge. Dr. Naugle also maintains updated information about the latest scientific research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, endocrine balance and nutritional support for stress and develops educational materials about stress and health for clinicians and their patients.