Hello, Health

What to eat if you're always feeling tired and stressed

Slow down. It works.

 |  Hello, Health  |  3-minute read |   15-06-2018
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In my practice, every day I come across at least a few people whose biggest complaint about their health (and life) is a feeling of abject listlessness — an inexplicable feeling of not feeling their 100 per cent, constant irritability, a debilitating brain fog and a terrible afternoon slump that makes them dread the midday, every day. And these are young people I am talking about, in their twenties and thirties. What is wrong with them? Is this a bonafide syndrome or is it all just in their minds?

Well, these are classic symptoms of a diagnosis that often gets missed out: adrenal fatigue. Let’s understand what this means. Located at the top of each kidney, our adrenal glands produce hormones that help control the heart, kidneys, GI tract, bones, genitalia, and immune system.

They help us control blood sugar, regulate how the body converts fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy, manage stress, react to stressors like a major illness or injury, and also help regulate our blood pressure. Basically, they are extremely important for efficient “day-to-day” functioning.

soya-s-690_061518054323.jpgSoya works wonders. PC: Revi's Foodography

That is why when we face long-term stress, like the death of someone close or the end of a long relationship, studies or work-related pressure, our adrenal glands get severely taxed, and fatigue may set in and we end up just feeling tired and crummy and terrible all the time.

The most common symptoms are exhaustion, weakened immunity, sleep disturbances, and food craving. Also look out for difficulty in getting up from the bed in the morning, inability to handle stress or conditions of tension, craving for salty food, overuse of stimulants like caffeine, weakened immunity, sleep disturbance, excessive anxiety, breathing difficulties, low energy and the inability to handle even minor stress and weight gain.

Beat it!

The problem is that our long hours at work, and the lifestyles that most working professionals lead are no longer in sync with the needs and natural state of the human body. And it needs to be understood that adrenal burnout is not a sudden problem, it is a phase the body reaches after a long battle with stress.

Recovering from adrenal fatigue may take months. The most important thing is giving yourself time to do it. Overall lifestyle modifications help both in prevention and cure for exhaustion. Worn-out adrenal glands require special nourishment through vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

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wal-nut_061518054603.jpgTrust antioxidant-rich food. 

They also require time to relax and switching off your “fight or flight” mode. The right diet can do wonders. To make sure it doesn’t happen to you, take control of your diet. Follow these prevention strategies:

Eat a whole-food, anti-inflammatory diet. Include fish and other sources of Omega-3 fats like flaxseeds and walnuts, antioxidant-rich foods like berries and citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, and nuts and seeds.

Have more foods with low-glycemic index like whole grains, beans, lentils and soy products.

Add anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric (a source of curcumin), ginger and rosemary to your daily diet.

Focus on eating anti-inflammatory healthy fats (oily fish [salmon, mackerel, sardines], olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds) instead of inflammatory fats like omega-6 rich oils, like corn, soy and safflower oils.

chai_061518055105.jpgGood for health. 

Adding more healthy fats will help you balance your blood sugar, which is key for healing adrenal fatigue.

Another easy swap is to remove inflammatory foods such as refined sugar, which can tax your adrenals; switch instead to healthier natural sweeteners like pure maple syrup and jaggery.

Adaptogenic herbs help the body “adapt” to stressful situations, and are extremely helpful in restoring adrenal function. The most important adaptogenic herbs for adrenal fatigue are: ashwagandha. Also known as the Indian ginseng, ashwagandha helps to regulate cortisol levels in the body and induce a sense of calm.

ash_061518055144.jpgKeep calm with Ashwagandha.

It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory and immune booster.

Finally, the best tip is to start to slow down. Easier said than done but if you want to heal, there’s no other way.

Also read: Dates are not just to break the Ramzan fast — they are a delicious and healthy choice otherwise too

Writer

Kavita Devgan Kavita Devgan @kavitadevgan

The writer is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).

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