Balance Your Body for Renewed Vitality
By Dr. Len Lopez
Nutrition and fitness expert
Are you constantly struggling with cravings, fatigue, weight gain, and indigestion? Have you tried diets, pills, and potions with no luck? Are you simply tired of being sick and tired? If that sounds like you, it’s time to quit addressing the symptoms and look for the root of the problem, especially if your health problems are interfering with your spiritual walk.
Today most of us are under way too much stress. We are simply over-booked with things to do and are always on the go. This causes us to over-produce our stress hormones, cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. Plus, our diets have moved so far away from what the Good Lord intended us to eat. Together, this leads to lack of energy, weight gain, cravings, indigestion, depression, PMS, allergies, arthritis, hot flashes, and the list goes on.
Getting to the Root
Stress is more than worry, fear, and anxiety. It is anything that causes your adrenal glands to produce more stress hormones. Poor digestion and blood sugar woes are additional stresses that over-work our adrenal glands. The wrong foods can irritate your tummy and cause bloating, gas, indigestion, and other irritable bowel problems. This causes inflammation and triggers your adrenals to produce additional cortisol.
Skipping meals or eating too much refined, processed food throws your blood sugar out of balance and triggers your adrenals to produce additional cortisol and adrenaline.
Add mental/emotional stress to the mix and you easily deplete and exhaust your adrenal glands, which is a huge underlying problem! If these stresses continue to mount, and the adrenals are not properly nourished, they can then interfere with thyroid, liver, heart, reproductive, and immune functions. That’s when you begin to struggle with fatigue, weight gain, cravings, depression, loss of libido, hot flashes, night sweats, allergies, ADD, and insomnia.
The root cause of many of our health complaints can be attributable to the following:
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Hormonal/Metabolic imbalances
- Digestive difficulties
These three underlying issues can easily manifest and grow into more complicated problems, such as degenerative and autoimmune diseases. This is why restoring normal function to our digestive system and hormonal system and balancing our blood sugar are critical. If our blood sugar is out of balance, how can we expect to overcome cravings, low blood sugar, and diabetes? If our hormones are out of balance, how do we expect to have energy, keep the weight off, and think clearly? And if our digestion is messed up, how can we strengthen our bodies?
Identify the Problem
Identify where the root problems are coming from. Rate your symptoms as mild, moderate, or severe (1, 2, or 3). If you struggle with blood sugar imbalances, you probably struggle with:
- mid morning/afternoon slumps
- irritable if meals are missed or delayed
- difficulty staying asleep
- low blood sugar/hypoglycemia
- difficulty with focus and attention
- the need to eat every couple of hours
If your hormones are out of balance, you’re struggling with:
- weight gain
- depression and anxiety
- hot flashes, night sweats
- difficulty falling asleep
- cold hands and feet
- loss of libido
- allergies and sinus problems
If digestion is also part of your problem, you are going to have:
- bloating, gas, indigestion
- foul smelling stool
- bad breath, halitosis
- burping or belching shortly after meals
- gnawing pain in the stomach
- chronic diarrhea, constipation
- continual use of antacids and other digestive meds
- irritable bowel, Crohn’s, colitis, leaky gut
If you score less than 2 points, it’s probably NOT a problem.
If you score between 3 - 7 points, you know there is reason for concern.
More than 8 points tells you this is a major priority that needs to be addressed.
How the Cycle Works
If your hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) are out of whack, you will never get them back if you don’t support your adrenal glands. This applies to both men and women. But you’ll never be able to support your adrenal glands if you don’t keep your blood sugar stable. You’ll never get your blood sugar stable if you skip meals or eat too much refined, processed food.
If digestion is a problem, it will stress your adrenal glands to make more cortisol. Poor digestion reduces the absorption of your nutrients and makes it harder to strengthen your body. Stress reduces your ability to make enzymes and hydrochloric acid (HCL), which causes bloating, gas, and indigestion. Don’t forget that all the cortisol you’re making will erode your intestinal lining and leave you more vulnerable to food allergies, and yeast and fungus overgrowth -- which further contribute to digestive problems.
If your adrenals are constantly making cortisol due to stress, this will “steal” progesterone. This lowers your available progesterone and disrupts the balance of estrogen to progesterone and testosterone, which leads to loss of libido, hot flashes, and night sweats.
Breaking the Vicious Cycle
Stress is our number one nemesis, because it depletes our adrenal glands. Therefore step one is to nourish your exhausted adrenal glands. Things to look for in a good adrenal support formula are vitamin C, B, zinc, as well as adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha, rhodiola, cordyceps, and ginseng, which balance out our hormones.
Infomercials are telling people that everyone’s cortisol is too high. Unfortunately, many people who have been under constant stress DON’T make enough cortisol, adrenaline, and DHEA. So taking a formula that merely lowers cortisol when it actually needs to be raised could be working against you.
Stay away from stimulants such as caffeine, ephedra, ma huang, guarana, kola, or bitter orange (citrus aurantium), which are found in many cortisol-lowering products and energy and weight-loss formulas. They only further deplete your adrenal glands!
Secondly, keep your blood sugar stable. DO NOT skip or miss meals. Breakfast is vitally important and should contain lots of protein and good fats. Stay away from protein shakes, unless you are a competitive athlete or follow an intense training schedule. Otherwise, an omelet, quiche, or any other breakfast that has good protein is fine.
Reduce and eliminate your consumption of refined, processed, and junk foods. Anything made with high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrins, or sucrose is a NO-NO. That includes soft drinks. Stay away from artificial sweeteners, too.
Regarding digestion, you want to take a good digestive enzyme that includes hydrochloric acid (HCL). This will improve protein digestion.
Hidden food allergies and poor food combining can also be a part of your digestive problems. Eliminate all dairy, wheat, corn, soy, caffeine, MSG, and artificial sweeteners for at least two weeks. If your digestion improves after a few weeks, gradually re-introduce one food at a time to see if any of your symptoms return.
The basic principles of food combining are to eat protein (eggs, chicken, beef, fish, etc.) with fibrous vegetables. No, or minimal amounts, of starches (breads, potato, beans, rice, pasta, etc.) with proteins. Eat your fruits by themselves, between meals. Drink only a few ounces of liquid with your meal.
The protocol I give my patients is called the IRS Steps Program and it walks the person through the healing process, which is called “functional healing.” The first step is to do IRS:
- Identify the Problem
- Restore Normal Function
- Strengthen the Body
Most people look to strengthen the body with specific formulas for diabetes, arthritis, menopause, allergies, hot flashes, insomnia, or depression before they have restored normal function. You restore health by first restoring function! It may take one to two months to accomplish this. Once you have those adrenals functioning properly, your digestive system working right, and you keep your blood sugar stable, you’ll be amazed how much healthier and stronger you’ll feel!
Follow these simple steps for 30 days, and you will break that vicious cycle and see a great many of your symptoms disappear.
Dr. Len Lopez is a nutrition and fitness expert and creator of The Work Horse Trainer. He speaks extensively on diet, exercise, and how stress can affect your overall health and wellness.
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