7 Reasons to Avoid Coffee

We all like (like, or have to?!?!) start our day with a coffee. Unfortunately, this habit of ours might be causing some damage to our health (especially if you are sensitive to caffeine). Here are seven reasons we are avoiding coffee.

coffee beans

1. It wreaks havoc with your gut

As you know, we’re firm believers in the saying ‘health starts in the gut’. And a healthy gut is dependent on its acidic level. Changes in gut acidity can be caused by coffee (among other things). Your stomach creates hydrochloric acid, which is essential for digestion. However, if hydrochloric acid is chronically over-produced (i.e. from drinking too much coffee) it can eventually reduce the body’s ability to create it, resulting in low stomach acid. If you have read our previous posts on low stomach acid, you would know that low stomach acid means poor digestion and malabsorption of protein and minerals.

2. It impacts your thyroid meds

The standard drug treatment for hypothyroidism, L-Thyroxine, is absorbed in the gastro-intestinal tract. Studies have shown that drinking coffee shortly after taking your thyroid medication can lower the absorption of it. This means that even if you have been prescribed the optimal amount for your health, your body might not be receiving the optimal amount.

3. It can expose you to BPA

The plastic lids on takeaway coffee cups contain BPA. BPA is a chemical which binds to hormone receptors and impairs all kinds of endocrine functions, hence the name endocrine disruptor (read more about endocrine disruptors here). When you drink your hot coffee through the plastic lid, BPA leaches out of the plastic.

4. It boosts stress hormones

When we enter our fight or flight mode, our body releases cortisol to combat the stress we are occurring. If the stress is acute, our body returns to normal once the stressor has passed. However, if the stress becomes chronic, as it can with drinking coffee regularly, our body is continually exposed to high levels of cortisol. High levels of cortisol can result in compromised immune function, among other things.

5. It can worsen Th-2 dominant illnesses

All illnesses are either Th-1 or Th-2 dominant. In a healthy person, with an optimal functioning immune system, T-helper Cells (Th) 1 and 2 recognise foreign toxins and signal to hormonal messenger proteins to go to the source of the inflammation and reduce the inflammation, working together to make your body healthy again. However, if you suffer from an autoimmune disease, drinking coffee can interact with your Th-1 and Th-2 and affect their function.

6. It can ruin your blood sugar

Caffeine impairs your reaction to insulin. One or two coffees a day is unlikely to affect blood sugar levels significantly in healthy people. However, for us who suffer from autoimmune diseases, drinking coffee can lead to both blood glucose and insulin spikes after meals. The more coffee you drink, the more your insulin sensitivity is reduced. This makes it harder for the body to respond to blood glucose spikes when they occur.

7. It disrupts your sleep

If you read our series of posts about copper toxicity, you would know that last year I didn’t sleep. At all. Unfortunately, it is when we are sleeping that our body repairs all of the cell damage that occurred during the day. For us suffering from an autoimmune disease, our sleep is hampered at the best of times and drinking coffee can just exacerbate the problem.

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Testing for Adrenal Fatigue

Are you tired, run down, gaining weight and feeling less than optimal? If you answered yes, you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue is becoming increasingly common as a result of the stressful western lifestyle; we are constantly stressed from study, work, family, money and never take the time to de-stress, relax and heal our bodies.

Adrenal Fatigue is when your adrenals become fatigued. Sounds simple right? Unfortunately, is a lot more complex and debilitating than it sounds (as we’re sure you know if you are reading this)!

What is Adrenal Fatigue

For more information on the complexities of Adrenal Fatigue, read our post The 4 Stages of Adrenal Fatigue here.

We always find that the New Year is a great time to get ourselves in check. Our most import tests that we like to run can be found here. One of these tests is an Adrenal Cortisol level test.

Adrenal Cortisol levels (read more about them here) should be tested via a 24 hour saliva test, NOT blood, in order to determine if your cortisol production follows the diurnal curve that it should. Our highest levels of cortisol are required in the morning in order for us to carry on with our normal activities and then fall progressively towards night so that we can sleep.

Unfortunately, doctors tend to recommend a one-time blood test, which measures both your bound and unbound cortisol–not how much cortisol is produced at different times of the day. Ideally, you will need to be off all cortisol containing supplements for two weeks before testing.

adrenal-gland-chart

Tests results for optimum health should look like these numbers below:

  • 8 am: At the literal top of the range
  • 11 am-noon: In the upper quarter, and often about a quarter below the top
  • 4-5 pm: Mid-range
  • 11 pm to midnight: At the very bottom

We’ve written a number of posts on Adrenal Fatigue. For more information on the symptoms of the 4 different stages of Adrenal Fatigue (we know, 4 stages!!), read our post The 4 Stages of Adrenal Fatigue here.

We’ve also put together a post on our recovery plan which you can read here.

When recovering from AF it is important to remember that it will take some time – we didn’t get to this stage overnight. It is common for AF recovery to take 3 – 6 months, and even longer for those in the later stages of the illness (or for those suffering from other illnesses). Be patient – and if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, just think, these months of recovery is time for you to focus on yourself and put yourself first.

Here’s to a healthy 2018!!

Relax with this one easy exercise

Deep-Breath-Relax

It’s that time of year again – Christmas! And while it can be a magical time of year filled with excitement, family and anticipation for what Santa might bring, it can also be a time of stress.

It’s less than a month until Christmas; how are you feeling? Do you feel like you’re running out of time? You still haven’t organised the dinner menu for the big day? You haven’t had a chance to buy everyone’s gifts yet? Has your ‘favourite’ (cue sarcasm) uncle just told you his extended family will also be coming to yours for lunch? Do you just feel like there is no time for you?

Did you know, stress has been linked to a myriad of health issues, including insomnia, depression, high blood pressure and mild cognitive impairment (MCI – a precursor to Alzheimer’s)?

Unfortunately, our typical way of relaxing (e.g. zoning out in front of the TV or tucking into a big bowl of comfort food – pasta, chocolate or ice-cream? or maybe all three anyone?) is doing little to reduce the damaging effects of stress.

What really helps – and only needs to take 5 mins – are deep breathing exercises. And bonus: it’s free and can be done anywhere, anytime!

Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—bringing your awareness away from the worries in your head, quieting your mind and letting you focus on the now.

So how do you relax through deep breathing?

Visualisation combined with deep breathing is a powerful tool to halt stress in its track. You can do this exercise anywhere, but we really like to do it laying down (and, maybe a little bit over the top, but with our feet facing in the direction of a window or door – read on to see why). release stress breathing

(1) To start, imagine all of the tension in your shoulders floating away.

(2) Now imagine two holes in the soles – one in each.

(3) Take a deep breath. As you do so, visualize hot air flowing through these holes moving slowly up your legs, through your abdomen and filling your lungs.

(4) As the hot air moves through your body, relax each muscle it ‘touches’ (e.g. as you visual the air moving up through your shins, visualise your calf muscles relaxing).

(5) Now, as you exhale, reverse the flow of the hot hair – you should be visualising the hot air moving down through your body and exiting (taking with it the tension in your body) the holes in the soles of your feet (and, if like us, you have your feet facing a window or door, you can take it a step further and imagine the tension and stress flowing out of the window or door).

The best part about this exercise is that you can do it anytime you feel like you need to relax and calm down…even in the middle of that shopping mall as you rush around buying last minute gifts (because, let’s face it, everyone else is too stressed also trying to buy those last minute gifts that they won’t even notice).

 

 

Foods that reduce cortisol

foods that lower cortisol

When your adrenals are healthy they produce the correct level of cortisol. Cortisol is often called the “stress hormone” as it is usually released by our body in times of stress – think of that adrenalin rush we get when we’re in a flight-or-fight mode.

More often than not, we are told that we need to reduce our levels of cortisol. However this can be problematic for someone suffering from an autoimmune disease, especially a thyroid problem. Correctly functioning adrenals and thus good cortisol levels, neither too high nor too low, are essential to healthy thyroid function. Cortisol raises your cellular level of glucose which works with your cell receptors, ATP (our energy source) and mitochondria to receive T3 from the blood into the cells (you can read more about how to test your cortisol levels here).

When an autoimmune disease is severe, any small changes in cortisol levels can have a detrimental effect on how we feel. Furthermore, foods that are often touted as healthy, can actually further lower our cortisol levels and make us feel even worse!

This is the case for many adaptogens. In particular matcha, licorice root, maca powder and ginseng can actually work against us by lowering cortisol. So whilst these foods are often categorised as “superfoods”, they can do more harm than good!

 

3 Reasons to use Melatonin

Melatonin – or as we like to call it, the wonder hormone – is a hormone produced by the pineal gland; a tiny gland found in our brain.

This gland is thought of as the master controller of our body clock. It manages our day-to-day circadian rhythm, telling us when to sleep and when to wake, and our longer-term biological clock, telling us when we get to experience those wonderful major hormonal milestones, such as puberty and menopause!pineal-gland

The pineal gland controls our circadian rhythms by releasing melatonin. Melatonin synthesis and its release is stimulated by darkness and hence is primarily produced at night. Typically, melatonin is used as a sleep aid to help people overcome jetlag or to help shift workers who have difficulty sleeping.

And that’s why we started using melatonin – to help us sleep. However, melatonin can also help with regulating hormones, thyroid function, our immune system and even help with slowing down aging!

Here are 3 of the benefits to using melatonin:

  1. Melatonin improves your sleep

As we mention above, our pineal gland controls our wake-sleep cycles by releasing melatonin. Melatonin is stimulated by darkness. However, when we watch tv before going to bed or lay in bed playing with our phones, the light from these devices interrupts the release of melatonin.

This disruption throws off the entire melatonin cycle, impacting both the quality and length of your sleep. When you don’t sleep, you suppress all of the systems in your body. Supplementing with melatonin helps your body to regulate its sleep-wake cycle and helps to prevent a breakdown of the other systems in your body.

sleeping

2. Melatonin helps to regulate hormones

I started supplementing with melatonin to help with sleep. However, after a couple of weeks using it, my period returned – after missing for five years! Initially I thought that this was down to the melatonin improving my sleep and therefore reducing the amount of stress in my body. Yet after some further research, I found that melatonin can actually help with regulating hormones.

Italian physician Walter Pierpaoli, MD, in particular, has spent decades researching melatonin and its effects on hormones. Dr. Pierpaoli believes that supplementing with melatonin can not only re-synchronize our circadian rhythms and wake-sleep cycles but also our overall endocrine system.

In one of his studies, Dr. Pierpaoli looked at perimenopausal and menopausal women aged between 42 and 62. This study found that using melatonin supplements for 6 months:

  • Increased estrogen levels,
  • Improved thyroid function,
  • Reduced follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in the women under 50,
  • Restored normal menstrual cycles in the younger women,
  • Restored normal menstrual cycles in a number of women who were already postmenopausal,
  • Delayed characteristic endocrine changes that occur during menopause, and
  • Helped with the conversion of T4 to T3, resulting in increased T3 levels in the study group.

3. Melatonin can help slow down aging

As we age, the pineal gland produces less and less melatonin. This natural decline means the pineal gland has to work harder to produce the melatonin we require to sleep well. Supplementing with melatonin allows the pineal gland to rest, protecting the pineal gland from aging and slowing down the aging process of our other glands and organs.

Studies of mice and the effects of melatonin have shown that, when provided with a melatonin supplement, the treated mice demonstrated regained energy, a youthful sex drive and a normal thyroid hormone cycle. As such, melatonin may slow some of the effects of aging.

 

I really believe that melatonin is one of the reasons my period returned after five years. Not only are my hormones returning to normal levels, I also feel much more relaxed and even rested when I wake up in the morning. One thing I should mention though – if you do decided to supplement with melatonin, just be aware that your dreams can become very vivid!!

How to exercise with Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue Recovery

When suffering from adrenal fatigue, it’s important to understand how your gym habits are effecting your recovery. We’ve already covered how working out can impact our cortisol levels (read the post here), so this post is for all of the other exercise addicts out there who just can’t bare giving up your daily workout!

Ok so we admit it, continuing to workout when you are suffering from severe adrenal fatigue may not be in your best interest. In fact, working out when you’re suffering from stage 3 or stage 4 adrenal fatigue might seriously worsen the state of your health. If you are in either of these stages you really should give up exercise until your symptoms improve (and seek professional help).

However, if you’re in the early phases of adrenal fatigue some exercise might be beneficial to your recovery. But it’s all about how you workout.

As your cortisol levels are at their highest in the morning, it’s better to get your exercise in in the morning, rather than in the evening. This way your body will be better able to handle the stress impact from the spike in cortisol.

Instead of a high intensity workout, try a less strenuous exercise like yoga or taking a walk around the block. If you are seriously addicted to exercise and would find this change too difficult to deal with, you could start incorporating there exercises into your workout plan by taking a yoga class one day a week instead of a spin class.

Progress with your recovery will take time. As you make these changes to your workout, try to keep a journal on how your symptoms respond. If you feel more stressed after yoga, try tai chi instead. Finding what works best for you is the most important thing.

Working out with Adrenal Fatigue

Exercise_Basics

Working out, and working out hard, is healthy right? Well not always…

High intensity workouts cause a rush of cortisol to be released by our body. Our body then reacts to this the same way it would if we were under stress (think fight or flight mode). Whilst typically healthy people can manage this spike in cortisol, those of us who suffer from adrenal fatigue can’t and the response can really mess with our healing progress.

Unfortunately, people suffering from adrenal fatigue often get a surge of energy in the evening. So instead of winding down after a busy day, we’re tempted to use this energy as motivation and head to the gym for a workout.

However, high intensity workouts at night can disrupt our body’s natural cortisol cycle (read more about your cortisol levels here), as our cortisol is starting to lower. This can worsen your adrenal fatigue (not to mention, interrupt your sleeping patterns further, lowering your mood and even causing weight gain).

In the really severe stages of adrenal fatigue (read about the 4 stages here) it might be best to skip the workouts for a while. This should let your body recover from the added stress of high intensity exercise.

Don’t get us wrong, exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But, just like any healing plan, finding what works for you is the most important thing.

If you really can’t give up the gym, read our next post on how to exercise with adrenal fatigue.

 

Do you have a magnesium deficiency?

Do you suffer from ‘growing pains’? Muscle cramps? Insomnia? Anxiety? PMS or even chronic fatigue? If so, you might have a magnesium deficit.

Magnesium is a powerful mineral that is important for helping our bodies to function. Anything that is cramped, tight, irritable and stiff — a body part or a mood — is an indication of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 enzyme reactions and is found in all our muscles, bones and brain. We need magnesium to help our cells make energy, stabilize membranes and help our muscles relax.

The list of symptoms caused by a magnesium deficiency is long – medical references show there are more than 3,500! These are the most common:

  • Muscle cramps or ‘growing pains’magnesium deficiency
  • Muscle twitches
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to loud noises
  • Anxiety
  • PMS
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Irritability
  • Palpitations
  • Asthma
  • Kidney stones
  • Irritable bladder, and
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Magnesium deficiency has also been connected to whole body inflammation (and as you know, inflammation is a problem/cause of all autoimmune diseases).

Unfortunately, our modern world can again be blamed for why so many people suffer from these issues. Many of us live on a diet of highly-processed, refined food that is predominantly made from white flour and sugar – all of which contain no magnesium! Furthermore, magnesium is poorly absorbed, and easily lost, from our bodies – especially when we consume excess alcohol, coffee, table salt, or are involved in intense exercise with lots of sweating or prolonged stress (which also relates to adrenal fatigue!).

Toxic Food - What NOT to eat with Hashimoto's

However, a number of medical studies have found that these symptoms can be reduced or eliminated by adding a magnesium supplement to our diet.

The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate and taurate. It’s important to note though that the magnesium found in those cheap, supermarket shelf supplements are often magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate and oxide. These are poorly absorbed by our bodies and best avoided.

In order to aid in its absorption, magnesium supplements should also be taken alongside Vitamin B6 and Vitamin D.

To really amp up the absorption, you can take a warm bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate)…we like to use our Epson salt bath as time to meditate and take some time out for ourselves!

Now, you’ll know if you have taken too much magnesium as you’ll be running to the toilet all day! If this occurs, just scale back the about of magnesium you are taking.

We like to take our magnesium supplements at night. This helps our bodies to relax and sleep better. We also find that magnesium really helps with our stress levels!!

Improve your sleep with this one easy task

What does your average day look like? Is it filled with rushing around, trying to fit in everything? Do you sacrifice an hour or two of sleep just to make sure you can tick those jobs off your to-do list? We definitely do.

But have a think about this…how do you feel when you don’t exercise for a week? Sluggish? Lazy? Tired? Ok, now have a think about how you feel when you don’t sleep for a week…that’s right, you probably can’t think! Or function for that matter!

Sleep is vital to everything we do. It’s our body’s way of recovering.

sleeping

Unfortunately, in today’s fast paced world we often sacrifice sleep to get our jobs done. Or when we do sleep, it’s often broken or disturbed. Who can remember the last time they woke up feeling well rested and ready to take on the day? Hmmm, not us.

That’s where a sleep diary comes in. Keeping a sleep diary can help you to identify things that happened during the day that may be impacting your ability to have a good night’s rest. It might seem like a pain, and just another thing to tick off your to-do list, but it can really help.

Here’s how to start one:

Draw up a simple table, divided by morning, during the day and at night. In each section, record particular events, such as:

Morning

  • What time you got out of bed
  • What time you wake up properly (because how many of us really wake up as soon as we jump – or roll – out of bed?)
  • Whether or not you feel rested when you wake
  • Any aches or pains not felt the previous night, especially jaw/tooth related aches

During the Day

  • The amount of caffeine consumed (type e.g. coffee or tea, amount and what time was it)
  • The amount of alcohol consumed (again, type, amount and what time it was)
  • Any stressful events (what kind of events were they, work related, family related? Do you think they will continue tomorrow or were they a once off?)
  • Exercise (what exercise did you do, at what time and for how long)
  • Did you have any daytime naps (if so, what time of day and what was the length of nap)
  • Any medications taken, whether they worked and how they made you feel the next day

At Night

  • What time you went to bed
  • The last foods eaten before going to bed, including the amount of each food
  • The estimated time it took you to fall asleep
  • How many times your sleep was disturbed and how long it took to fall back asleep
  • The total time spent sleeping (not lying in bed)
  • Anything else about the night you feel is relevant to record.

It’s important to make sure you are consistent with this diary. Ideally you should keep one for a couple of weeks to help accurately determine the root cause of your sleep problems.

By being diligent about updating your sleep diary throughout the day, you can also start to determine what is inside and outside the realm of your control. Hopefully keeping this diary will help you realise what is impacting your sleep. If after a couple of weeks of recording your sleep you can’t pinpoint the root cause of your poor rest, take it to a doctor or sleep specialist and they may be able to help with diagnosing a particular sleep disorder.

Why I Love…Sleep

Unfortunately, the fast paced, Western world we live in is interfering with our natural sleep patterns. Not only are we sleeping less than we did in the past, our sleep quality has also decreased.

We all know that a bad night’s sleep is not beneficial. Besides the dark circles under the eyes and a foggy brain, lack of sleep can actually increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, obesity and negatively impact your immune function!

Sleep is vitally important, not only for your health, but also your wellbeing. Here are some of the reasons why we love sleep (we say ‘some’ because our list of why we love sleep would top at least 100).

Recover from Adrenal Fatigue

  1. It can help to balance your hunger hormones

You know that feeling of endless hunger, where no food will satisfy your cravings? You’ve probably experienced it after a late or restless night. Studies show that sleep deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. A good night’s sleep helps to maintain a balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) and full (leptin). When we have a poor night’s sleep, this balance is disrupted, leading to poor appetite regulation.

     2. It can reduce inflammation

Sleep loss has been linked to long-term inflammation and cell damage. Poor sleep can adversely impact our body’s inflammatory responses and increase the risk of inflammatory disease recurrence. Studies have shown that patients with Crohn’s disease who were sleep deprived were twice as likely to relapse compared to patients who slept well. On the other hand, solid sleep helps the body in its recovery process and keep inflammation at bay.

     3. It can help to improve your workouts

Have you ever tried to workout after a night of poor sleep? Yep, not that great. That’s because sleep has been shown to improve athletic performance, including reaction time, speed and accuracy. If you really want to improve and make decent progress with your exercise plan you may want to consider getting more shut eye.

      4. It can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke

Did you know, sleeping less than 7 hours a night has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke? Both sleep quality and duration are believed to drive chronic disease. Get some rest!

       5. It can improve your immune function

A good night’s sleep can improve your immune function and ability to fight of disease – especially the common cold. Even a minor loss in sleep can impair your immune function. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 7 hours a night are almost three times more likely to catch a cold than people who sleep 8 or more hours.