Sunday, April 14, 2013

Carb Addiction and Adrenal Exhaustion

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
(These are suggestions from a book, I am not a doctor.  If these ideas peak your interest, get the book or see your healthcare provider.)

I had my first intentional non-Paleo bites of food yesterday.  At Cafe Flora, they were serving gluten-free sunchoke hush puppies.  Hush puppies!  I couldn't pass up trying one, and eating Tallulah's that she didn't like.  They weren't as good as a traditional hush puppy from the classy places I used to eat at as a kid, like Long John Silver's.  But still, it was deep fried.

I have been really enjoying the book that I mentioned earlier this month, The Diet Cure, by Julie Ross M.A.  The title set off my alarm bells right away.  Cure?  Yea, right.  But I have to say, something about this book makes a lot of sense to me.  There is a quiz at the beginning, after which, you will know which chapters relate most to your specific needs.  Given my scores, I am starting with Ch. 3 (Unstable Blood Sugar: Carb addiction, Hypoglycemia, Diabetes, and Adrenal Exhaustion) and Ch. 11 (Balancing Your Blood Sugar and Reviving Your Adrenals).

Ch. 3 - Unstable Blood Sugar: Carb addiction, Hypoglycemia, Diabetes, and Adrenal Exhaustion

This chapter starts out with a great analogy about sugar and carbs in the body.  "Your body and brain are built of protein, water, fat, minerals, and vitamins.  Like auto parts that must be made of specific materials such as metal and rubber - muscles, hormones, nerves, bones - must be made from water and solid nutrients like protein, minerals and fat.  Carbohydrates have a very different function.  They are the fuel that your body uses.  Yes, they are important, but you cannot build an engine or a tire out of gasoline, you cannot makes muscles and bones out of carbs."

If you find yourself eating carbs after carbs (and sugar too! or alcohol, the super-sugar), craving another dose throughout the day, then this stress moves from your pancreas, making enough insulin to keep up with the glucose in the blood, to the adrenals.  The adrenals are there for stress, and if they simultaneously have to deal with making sure your body doesn't bottom out on blood sugar, then over time you will find yourself in adrenal exhaustion. 

Once you have eaten yourself into any part of this cycle, you can be literally powerless over your food choices.  While your mind and will power say, "This isn't healthy or good for me," you're body's biochemical reactions are so powerful that you likely will find yourself picking up that croissant or glass of wine.  Through the process, your body is likely being depleted of important minerals, amino acids and nutrients. 

Ch. 11 - Balancing Your Blood Sugar and Reviving Your Adrenals

So, what to do if you it feels like you don't have a choice?  What about all those times that you do so "good" for a while, only to end up so cranky and irritated that you give up?  

You might be depleted in chromium, a mineral that the body uses to stabilize blood sugar.  The book asserts that it also directly prevents carbohydrate cravings.  I found a study that demonstrated an effect of lower cab cravings for depressed individuals after taking chromium picolinate supplementation.  The stories shared in the book are nothing short of miraculous, as far as how quickly the craving could subside.  Again, a red flag for me.  But, still, there is enough there for me to want to give it a try.

This amino acid can stop the blood sugar fro diving into the "must-eat-candy-or-have-a-beer-or-hit-someone" low blood sugar state that the brain can get into.  If the brain is low in glucose, which it needs to do anything, it can burn glutamine instead. 

Protein and Fat
High enough protein diets can help stabilize blood sugar as well.  Foods high in protein stimulate the release of glucagon, which in turn stimulates fat burning instead of fat storage, like glucose does.    What's enough protein in a meal?  3 eggs,  4-6 ounces of meat or fish, 1- 1 /2 cups of beans. (20-24 grams of protein)

Fat also helps in this process.  Your body needs fat, it you don't need a lot of it, but if you don't get any you may find yourself eating more and more carbs in it's place.  You may be eating low-fat everything, and your body is creaming for some fat, but you interpret it as you eat more of everything else.  Butter, olive oil and coconut oil are some great fats to add into your diet.

And of course, eat lots of fresh veggies and fruits.  Whole, with the fiber intact.
There are other things to offer support if you are over-stressed too.  Interestingly, do not over excerise if you are in adrenal exhaustion, as this adds more stress to the adrenals that they may not need at this time.  Find relaxing yoga classes, ways to decompose at lest twice a day, take long walks. 


Bob Redmond said...

Wow, there's so much here... all totally relevant. Did you finish the book? Did you try any of these solutions, and with any luck? I'm glad you point out that even despite intentions and plans, our body can still take over. So these diet changes can reinforce our willpower. If there was ONE most important change or first step to balancing blood sugar and adrenals, which would you suggest?

Melissa Baumgart said...

I did not finish the book.
I tried some pf the supplements, but I felt worse. Oddly.
I think the ONE step would be to cut out sugars and most carbs, adding in more protein and fats.
And yes, I still do think that dietary changes, and habit changes, can reinforce our willpower.

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