Adrenal support is essential during the transition period from Summer to Autumn/Winter. The adrenals play a critical role in helping your body adapt to change and stress (this includes seasonal changes).
To avoid a lowering of immune system function so typical of transition seasons (Autumn and Spring) and the colds, flus, congestion, fatigue and other health conditions so typical of the Autumn season, it is essential to support these glands.
The adrenal glands are two little glands located above each kidney that are part of the 4 primary endocrine (hormonal) pathways responsible for “managing” how your body functions. They play a primary role in stress response and adaptation, as well as in immune function. Long-term stress not only causes adrenals to work extra hard (sometimes leading to fatigue), but cortisol levels required to deal with stress inhibit immune response and have an impact on the insulin/sugar pathways (affecting weight).
In my blog earlier this week (Preparing Autumn – the Basics!), I already mentioned a number of basic healthy lifestyle and food habits that help in this regard, but below are tips that help support the adrenals specifically:
– Ensure you are getting good levels of vitamin C, preferably through fruits and vegetables rather than pills and powders. Red fruits are particularly good to eat at this time since many are in season (blackberries, raspberries, bilberries/blueberries, black or red currants, etc.) and others such as plums, figs, grapes, kiwis and pomegranates. Furthermore, they contain red pigments called anthocyanins which not only have anti-inflammatory properties but also have tonic effect on the adrenals.
– A couple of weeks prior to the end of Autumn, begin taking a tablespoon of sea buckthorn juice every morning (diluted in some water if too sour for you). This super fruit and amazing medicinal plant is not only an extremely high source of vitamin C but also an important source of other vitamins, antioxidants, protein building blocks (amino acids), fatty acids (including Omega 7) and minerals. It helps boost and protect immune function. I know that Weleda and Nordic Gold make it in juice form, if you can’t find it in organic or health food shops.
– If you can’t find sea buckthorn juice or really don’t like the taste, you can try black current berry juice instead (the 100% fruit, no sugar added variety) which you can also dilute in some water if too sour for you as well. Black current is a popular addition to cough syrups and immune support mixes. Since it is a seasonal fruit at this time of the year, add the fresh berries to fruit salads, porridge, muesli and fresh made apple sauce.
– Make/take cinnamon, liquorice or black current leaf herbal tea during the day, as alternatives to coffee, green tea or other stimulants. Cinnamon, as mentioned in my previous post, has amazing medicinal properties/actions among them helping to fight infection, yeast and fungal growth, supporting intestinal flora and transit, and acting as a tonic for adrenal function.
– To help maintain energy levels and combat fatigue ask your herbalist for some suggestions for adaptogenic herbs that would be best for you specifically. These wonderful plants help protect the body from the effects of stress and improve immune function.
– Try fresh ginger tea (in which you can add a bit if lemon, honey or cayenne pepper (or all 3)) when feeling chilled.
– Avoid orange juice in the mornings (unless you are constipated, in which case it should be taken at room temperature on an empty stomach, but not a habit to take on a daily basis! There are better long-term solutions for this issues). Aside from its sugar content and acidity, drinking orange juice in the morning will stimulate the gall bladder to drain its bile to such extent that by lunch time you may not digest properly due to low levels of bile, impacting on digestive health, absorption and energy levels.
– Keep sugary foods, alcohol, coffee and other stimulants to a minimum.
– Get into a good sleeping routine and keep your stress levels low with meditation, relaxation, exercise and fun!