Here are five steps to boost your energy levels and support healthy adrenal function.
How many times have you eaten fast food this week? How many times have you had to hit snooze on your alarm? How many times have you relied on caffeine to get you through the day?
Taking time out of your busy schedule to unwind, introducing nourishing foods to your daily diet, and adopting a healthy sleep schedule are some of the most recommended habits you can adopt to boost your energy levels and support adrenal health.
Here are five steps to treating yourself better and increase your body's natural vitality:
Step #1: Look for Ways to Reduce Your Mental Load
We put this tip first because it’s arguably the most important step for avoiding maintaining elevated stress levels over time. However, it might also be the hardest habit to change.
When you become stressed, your adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol. When you’re chronically stressed, your cortisol levels remain elevated and may affect optimal metabolic function, as well as, optimal endocrine, brain and cardiovascular health. (1) When cortisol remains elevated for weeks at a time, your brain undergoes physical changes that may affect your energy levels. (2)
There are two ways you can go reduce feelings of stress. First, you can actively try to eliminate the causes of worry from your life. For example, if you’re worried about money, sitting down and working on your finances may clear your head.
A good way to ease your stress is to sit down and make a list of the causes of stress within your control. Brainstorm a way to eliminate or reduce the impact of each of these stressors.
Here are a few examples of things in your life that may cause stress:
- Spousal disputes
- Working too much overtime
- Financial worry
- A new baby
- Toxic friends or family members
The second way you can manage stress is by adding more relaxing activities to your daily routine. You’re always going to have some stress in your life so activities like the following can help you manage the stress you can’t avoid.
- Walks in nature
- Time with family
Step #2: Clean Out Your Fridge and Cupboards
If you have unhealthy foods in your house, it’s going to be nearly impossible to resist the temptation to eat them. What foods are considered unhealthy? It’s a good idea to eliminate foods that impact the optimal inflammatory response function in your body such as processed foods made from hydrogenated vegetable oils and sugar.
Research from Carnegie Melon University found that when you’re chronically under stress, your body's inflammatory response may be affected. (3) Replacing processed foods with natural alternatives is a must if you want to support adrenal health and sustain healthy energy levels. You’re only going to feel as good as the quality of the food you put into your body.
Here are some high-sugar foods to avoid:
- Cakes, pies, and pastries
- Sweetened sauces and dressings
- Syrups and sweet coffee
- Juice and non-diet soft drinks
- Candy and sweets
Here are some foods high in processed fats to avoid:
- Anything deep-fried
- Vegetable oils
- Grape-seed oil
- Soy and soy oil
- Canola oil
- Peanut oil
- Corn oil
Step #3: Up Your Protein and Healthy Fats
If you don’t give your body the raw material it needs to make new tissues, it may not function optimally. Many types of fat like monounsaturated fat and omega 3s support a healthy inflammatory response in the body, which may directly impact your overall sense of well being, vitality and energy levels. (4)
It’s a good idea to eat at least one high-protein food and one food containing healthy fats with each meal. Here is a list of foods to get you started.
Choose fresh and organic ingredients when available and watch out for any food sensitivities.
- Avocado oil
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, salmon)
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Fish Oil Supplements
HIGH-PROTEIN FOOD LIST
- Lean meats
Step #4: Pay Attention to Micronutrients
It’s easy to count the amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrates in your food. However, it’s harder to count the number of micronutrients.
Many popular chocolate bars that have nuts in them are lower on the glycemic index than natural foods like rice or potatoes. However, a chocolate bar is so processed that there are very few nutrients in it. Calories from processed foods void of nutrients are often referred to as empty calories.
Avoiding processed food with empty calories is a good idea when you are considering to support your energy levels. Natural foods like fish, meat, fruit, dairy, and vegetables are healthier options. Dark greens like spinach, bok choy and kale provide you with a vast spectrum of nutrients with next to no calories.
Also, consider adding adaptogen herbs like and Panax Ginseng to your diet. These herbs may help to reduce your cortisol levels and support your body’s natural stress response. (5,6)
Step #5: Sleep More and Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day
Sleep is critical for supporting adrenal health. However, it might be tempting to cut your rest during the week and make up for it on the weekend. This pattern of sleeping can have an adverse effect on optimal hormone levels.
Your stress hormone cortisol naturally spikes shortly after you wake and declines throughout the day. (7) It plays a critical role in your body’s circadian rhythm (your body’s natural clock). When your sleep schedule is sporadic your cortisol levels peak at the wrong time.
For the highest quality sleep, you can aim to wake up at the same time each morning, even on weekends. It’s easiest to achieve this by considering the earliest time you’ll have to wake throughout the week and use that as your wake time. For example, if you rise at 6:30 am on Wednesdays, you can set your alarm for 6:30 am every day of the week to match it.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
2. Mcewen, B. S. (2008). Central effects of stress hormones in health and disease: Understanding the protective and damaging effects of stress and stress mediators. European Journal of Pharmacology,583(2-3), 174-185. doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2007.11.071
4. Malhotra, A., Redberg, R. F., & Meier, P. (2017). Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: Coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions. British Journal of Sports Medicine,51(15), 1111-1112. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-097285
5. Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine,34(3), 255. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.106022
6. Reay, J. L., Scholey, A. B., & Kennedy, D. O. (2010). Panax ginseng (G115) improves aspects of working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness in healthy young adults. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental,25(6), 462-471. doi:10.1002/hup.1138
7. Chan, S., & Debono, M. (2010). Review: Replication of cortisol circadian rhythm: New advances in hydrocortisone replacement therapy. Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism,1(3), 129-138. doi:10.1177/2042018810380214