Adrenal challenge day 65 – New You in 22 continued

Oh dear – this really is a pretty rammed time for me. I feel as if there definitely aren’t enough hours in the day and I can usually squeeze a bit of time to blog but it’s been crazy. I am away from home a LOT, inspecting garden centres (for work) in the north of the UK, getting back, writing reports and, basically, setting off again. This is no good for the adrenals, I can tell you 🙂

Despite all this, I am trying to stick to the New You in 22 regime – it would be a whole lot easier if I didn’t have to visit garden centre cafes with their array of gorgeous cakes!! When I am home, I have my new favourite breakfast, a smoothie to top all smoothies (in my humble opinion):

  • Handful of mixed berries (blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry – any combination, I use the whole lot!!)

  • Tablespoon-ish of melted coconut oil (don’t let it get too hot or it heats up the smoothie) (lots of good stuff in this and helps balance blood sugar)

  • 3-4 ice cubes

  • Unsweetened almond milk (add more of this or some water if smoothie is too thick for you)

  • Tablespoon of flax seeds (fibre and good fats)

  • Scoop of protein powder (I use rice protein powder but good quality whey is recommended)

  • Half an avocado (good fats and gives a nice creamy taste) 

Blend well. It’s yummy and very filling. I like the sweetness of it but if it’s not sweet enough for you, add some Stevia. I thought I was permanently wedded to my previous breakfast of fruit, almond milk, nuts and buckwheaties but I just can’t wait to have this in the morning now. I keep meaning to take a picture of it but I’m usually half way down it before I remember!!

So – the programme (although I haven’t followed it totally strictly all the time) is good. It’s similar to Paleo, but more heavy on the good fats (coconut oil, avocado, good quality fish, meat, butter etc) and lighter on the protein. This seems to suit me well – the fats have definitely helped my skin, which has a tendency to be on the dry side, and I also don’t like having too much meat. Unlike Paleo, the breakfast option of having a fruit based smoothie rather than meat has much more appeal. The recommended program is quite ‘meaty’ re lunch and dinner, but eggs or fish may be used instead, so it tends to work OK for me, although in a couple of weeks I will probably reduce the meat even more and see how that works. The good thing about the addition of fats from coconut oil and avocado etc to the breakfast smoothie is that it doesn’t raise your blood sugar too much, so your insulin levels don’t spike.

Controlling the levels of hormones is a lot of what this programme is all about. As well as the usual focus on insulin, hormones like leptin and grehlin are also considered. These play an important role in regulating appetite and metabolic rate. A low carb regime is followed for the first 10 days and on the evening of the 10th day you have what is called a ‘carb’ feast. It can be ‘healthy’ such as sweet potato/brown rice or fruit, or even full on cake and chips. This gives a deliberate spike in insulin and prevents your body getting too used to low carb living and thus adapting to it by lowering your metabolic rate. Thereafter, you have a carb feast every 4th night. The problem for me is that having a carb feast seems to set off my carb cravings so it’s tough to re-adapt (for me) the next day. My weight has levelled at 141lbs (still 4lbs down) but as I am under a fair bit of pressure at the moment and not getting to bed as early as I should, this will also be having an effect (a very interesting insight into the effects of stress and lack of sleep is also part of the program, but more of that another day.) It’s probably not a good time to be test-driving this, but I am going to carry it on for a while anyway and fine tune it to suit my own lifestyle and beliefs about what is good for me, having tested quite a few things by now. The fine-tuning will begin in around two weeks after a pretty full on week work-wise this week and a trip to Mexico and Las Vegas next week. Hasta pronto!!

 

Adrenal Challenge Day 37 – New You in 22

It’s been a while since I posted – two weeks to be precise – and a lot has happened in those two weeks. The main thing is my brother’s funeral, which was very sad, obviously. It did, however, give our somewhat dysfunctional family a chance to get together.

There is almost a clean split between the sensible side of the family and the drinking, smoking side. We all love each other but it made for an almost comical scenario at the wake. The hard core smokers and drinkers were outside, getting more blasted by the minute, and the ‘sensible’ ones (if you could call us that – we are still totally mad) were inside, drinking tea or water!! It wasn’t a young/old split either – there are representatives from three generations on both sides.

The death of a loved one is a weird thing. You feel utterly and totally bereft but strangely, I have felt comfortingly close to Paul since his death, as if we are in constant contact. There have been too many strange coincidences for me to think I am imagining it and, after a really traumatic day following the funeral, when I didn’t see the point of anything, I am sort of calm and accepting, despite thinking of him all the time and feeling sad that I can’t hug him or call him.

On a different (but related) note, I had started something called ‘New You in 22’ by Jonny Bowden – almost without intending to – the Sunday before Paul’s funeral (ie a week ago) in a bid to lose the weight gain of 9lbs that had crept on in a stealthy manner over the past few months. The problem was that I was following the ‘adrenal’ advice of eating three meals and having two snacks in a bid to keep my blood sugar balanced. Well, it may have done that, but it also made my waistline (and a few other bits) expand. I also wanted to get my thyroid a bit more motivated and this programme claims to help with one’s metabolism. To be honest I didn’t give it all too much thought but have been reading through the e-book and it is (surprisingly for me) one of the most educational, illuminating texts I have ever read about hormones and weight gain. Because of all the upset, I think I may have veered off track with other programmes, but this one has been so easy to integrate (and I wanted to keep strong as a sort of tribute to Paul in any case), I just kept it going without cheating.

Suffice it to say for the moment that I have not felt at all hungry, it is a doddle to follow and really makes amazing scientific sense. I have also lost 4lbs in a week. Not only that, despite the crying and angst of the past few weeks – my skin looks better, the whites of my eyes are clearer and I can’t quite believe it!! This is particularly impressive because I eat a low carb diet anyway, but the surprisingly useful addition of good fats at every meal has made a tremendous difference.

I will be doing some more in-depth posts about it in the next few weeks – especially after my ‘carb feast’ on Tuesday night!! I haven’t read everything yet but so far, so good. Will keep you posted…..

Adrenal Challenge Day 23 – some good (health) news

ImageDespite the fact that life has continued to be challenging over the past two weeks, particularly the tragic, sudden death of my brother, there has been a noticeable difference in my health issues – in a good way.

In December when I first went to Mexico – and even the last time I was there in January – my blood pressure was not good. It hovered around 173/99 and, considering my diet is pretty good and I’m not particularly overweight, I was at a loss as to how to reduce it. It was almost certainly as a result of stress (ie general life stress and the infection in my jawbone) and the fact that my adrenals were really struggling. Blood pressure tends to drop at first when the adrenals are on the way out but can ramp right up when in the late stages of adrenal fatigue. I do also believe that what is called ‘white coat hypertension’ may also have had an influence. This is when patients get stressed about getting their blood pressure taken and it can increase it by quite a bit.

My mum and my other half were worried and kept nagging me to get it checked out and get my heart checked out too, as I kept getting chest pains, but I figured if some of the problem was caused by going to the doctors, maybe I should invest in a blood pressure monitor I can use at home. I got an Omron model – not expensive (about ÂŁ20/30 dollars from Amazon) and very easy to use. Even then I was worried about finding the results as it sort of freaked me out when they were no better the second time I went to Mexico. I have been working pretty hard on managing stress and have used some very helpful pieces of equipment and techniques (which I will post about in detail over the next few weeks) but I was still apprehensive. Anyhow, the results have been impressive, as you can see from the picture – 122/74 with a pulse rate of 65. And that was not long after a cup of tea and a brisk walk!! Yay!! So – this is absolutely normal. According to the chart I looked at, for a woman of my age (55) the normal range for systolic (top figure) is 110-144 (average of 131) and for the diastolic (bottom figure) is 82-90 (average 86), so I’m actually below average. My pulse is in the ‘excellent’ range (one step below athlete – good to know) for a woman of my age, so I must have been doing something right.

Anyone who has had (and resolved) health issues will know how pleased I feel, and of course this is not the happiest of times for me, plus I am still working pretty hard (to pay for the treatment in Mexico :)) I have also seen some good improvements in other areas – ie

– my fibromyalgia pains are much less frequent and reduced in intensity

– my sleep quantity and quality has been better generally, although I do wake up thinking about Paul and sometimes can’t get back to sleep because I feel so sad

– my back pain and flexibility is improving – and holding. I used to have some good days and some bad days but now it seems to be getting consistently better as the weeks pass

– my jaw pain is less intense and less continuous than it was. It hasn’t gone, but sometimes I can forget it – this is so good after all this time.

– this may seem minor, but I am needing to go to the loo a lot less. I used to have to get up several times a night and had all the symptoms of interstitial cystitis (IC) with a tender, painful bladder. This has been much better and I am only getting minor flare ups from time to time

So – what do I think all this improvement is due to? Well I am sure that the treatment in Mexico is having a good effect but there are other things that I have added in/been more religious about doing recently which have definitely helped. I would like to put some more in-depth information up about them as they are so interesting and potentially helpful to many people (well – most people) so I will do this another day when I have the time to do it justice.

The main moral of today’s post is that if you do have high blood pressure and you have only had it checked at the doctors, buy your own monitor and check it at home as a first step. Many patients have been put on high blood pressure tablets simply because they have white coat hypertension and the reading is actually erroneous because of this. There are then many non-medication options available to you, which I will discuss in future posts.

100% Raw – the verdict

IMG_8068Well it’s been a while since I did the 100% Raw Challenge (and even then I didn’t quite make it some days), but the pro’s and con’s are still in my mind and it’s well past time I posted them.

On the whole, this gets the thumbs up, but with some reservations/codicils; there is no doubt that if a person is in reasonable health in terms of their digestive system and they get the right balance of nutrients (see below) a raw food diet can work really well, particularly if ‘living’ foods are also incorporated (ie wheatgrass and sprouted seeds such as mung bean, sunflower sprouts etc). Living food, in particular, is loaded with enzymes and high in protein, and when nutrients aren’t destroyed by heat/cooking, they are much more bioavailable.

Personally, I felt much ‘lighter’, my toilet habits (for want of a better description) were more regular and I had more energy. So – what’s not to like?? Well – here are my own personal ‘provisos’ and reservations:

– It is important to eat the right balance of food – ie not too heavy on the fruit – especially if you have problems with microbial overgrowth (eg Candida). Generally, the greater the fibre content and the lower the GI, the better. That said, some people have issues with too much fibre and fruit tends to be more easily digestible than raw greens, so the digestibility for those with digestive issues needs to be considered

– If the digestive system is weakened by ill health I personally don’t think that 100% raw with lots of fibrous veg is the best way to go. Adding in vegetable juices is a great compromise – the nutrients are readily available and digested easily. A great way to start any meal is with a veggie juice, sipped slowly and mixed with digestive enzymes in the mouth. This also gets you a lot of the benefits of raw food even if you are not all raw. Apparently cooked food is perceived as a ‘threat’ to our bodies and causes inflammation, because it is de-natured and not recognised as easily as raw food, but if we start a meal with raw (eg a juice or a salad) then this effect is ameliorated to some extent.

– It’s important to get enough protein so often a lot of nuts are consumed by raw foodists. However, these are high in Omega 6 as opposed to Omega 3, so it can knock the balance out, plus the fact many people have intolerance to nuts and they are quite dense and hard on the digestive system. An alternative option would be to increase the level of sprouts and add in wheatgrass juice plus incorporate a protein powder such as rice or hemp protein and to make sure you get enough omega 3 (eg have flax seed oil)

– B12 is another thing vegan raw foodists can struggle to get sufficient of. It is best to take a good supplement of this is meat is off the menu.

– 100% raw is difficult to sustain, as to eat well can require a lot of forethought and preparation (although when it’s prepped at least it doesn’t go ‘cold’!!) It’s also not too sociable if you’re very rigid, especially in the UK

– It’s too bloody cold in the UK to do this comfortably through the winter, in my opinion!!

– Don’t go too mad on the puddings. Even though they taste lovely and they are raw, they usually contain dates, agave syrup or other sweeteners and, yes, they’re better for you than cooked/high sugar alternatives but still as an addition to a good core diet.

So…what I try to do now is to have at least 60% raw (and I don’t always stick to that, but that would be my ideal) and have at least a green juice or wheatgrass juice each day I’m home. In the summer I will increase this and will also aim to do so when I am home more so that I can be a bit more imaginative and make some of the incredible offerings you can have on a raw diet – some taste absolutely amazing and have a different dimension to anything I’ve tried that has been cooked.

De-stress Challenge Day 14 – RIP my beloved brother

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My brother and his wife on their wedding day

This has been a very sad week. My brother, who I was very close to, died on Wednesday.

He had an alcohol problem and this caused his health to deteriorate badly over the years, weakening his organs and exacerbating his rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. He was very depressed and his mental state just got worse and worse. It is so desperately sad to try as hard as you can to help someone but know that it is useless. I am no stranger to this; my mother and father had a drink problem and we had a very turbulent childhood, but we helped each other through it. My mum is completely fine now and has never felt better, but it took many years and for her to reach rock bottom before she finally decided to tackle this. I am very proud of her for doing so.

After numerous suicide attempts and almost losing his leg, I thought my brother must have hit rock bottom but he went all the way and, ironically, he didn’t even want to die at the point his body gave up on him. We have to wait for the coroner’s report but it seems he had a heart attack whilst he was trying to get to see his wife (who lived separately to him), fell and smashed his head open and died as a result of that and hypothermia. She found him outside her house at 7 o’clock in the morning I still can’t believe he is gone and I will never be able to hug him again or talk about the many laughs we had and the many experiences we went through that were known only to us and would mean nothing to anyone else.

It is said that the soul stays on earth for three days after someone dies. I certainly felt this when my dad died and I felt my brother very close to me yesterday. A weird thing happened in the early hours of yesterday morning. In my last post I said I had had chest pains and at first I thought maybe my bra was too tight. However, despite going bra-less it made no difference and I woke up with chest pains pretty much the same time as my brother must have been suffering problems before he died. They were there all the day of his death and carried on into and through most of that night. I was starting to get a bit worried, to say the least, and ‘said’ to Paul ‘I won’t be long behind you if this carries on’ At that moment I suddenly wondered if fibromyalgia sufferers had problems with chest pains. I’ve never thought of myself as a fibro sufferer – although I get aches and pains I just sort of take it for granted. However I decided to look and it does seem I have a lot of the symptoms – including a condition called Costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs and sternum. Thankfully, whilst uncomfortable, it is not dangerous and it has pretty much gone now.

Anyway, I felt Paul’s presence virtually all day yesterday and I also feel that he is with his wife now – he had arranged a Valentine’s Day meal for them, so I am sure he will be there in some sense.

It has been a difficult day with my daughter. I worry about her constantly – her anorexia is never far from my mind and she has better days and worse days. Today was one of the latter. Anyone dealing with this horrible disease will know how painful it is not to be able to tackle it head on and just wait/hope that one day it will get better. I don’t want to lose anyone else and it is so awful to feel this  powerless.

Needless to say, my de-stress challenge has been somewhat derailed, but I do know that I will need to have a lot of strength for the days/weeks/years ahead and letting myself go spiralling downwards (much as I am tempted to sometimes) will not help the situation. I’m not an overly religious person but I think praying might just be a good thing right now. Hopefully my next post will be happier : )

De-Stress Challenge Day 10 – Angina or tight bra??

One of the most disturbing symptoms of adrenal fatigue is having chest pains, a symptom associated with stage 3. All my other symptoms have been easing with everything I’ve done but the chest pains just weren’t shifting. However I may have found a simple solution/reason for this…

Today my unremitting chest pain (like having a heavyweight standing on my chest) was really starting to get to me. I found the only way I could get it to a bearable level was to shallow breathe – which isn’t good anyway, but it was preferable to the crushing feeling!! It got pretty bad and I was starting to panic. In the end I undid my bra and the chest pain magically vanished!! I went for my walk with an undone bra (!) and suffered no chest pain at all!! When I got back I Googled ‘chest pain and tight bra’ and a couple of articles appeared. I have now ordered some ‘comfort’ bras and can’t wait to get them! I will report the results in due course….

 

De-stress Challenge Day 9 – Detective work is key to good health

Well it’s been just over a week since my last post and overall I have been pretty good about sticking to my intentions (although not perfect!)…..

I am still having tea but instead of the two cups (yes, it had snuck up from the one cup in the morning) I am having half a cup. I didn’t think it would make much difference but (sadly) it has and I do feel calmer without it. My early night resolution has waivered here and there; I have been out twice this week to celebrate my other half’s birthday with friends and family and got back late on Monday night after travelling home from a meeting. But things are brighter on the sleeping front (yay). I was getting about 5 hours sleep a night but now I get two good nights sleep (about 7-8 hours) with one bad nights sleep. I still haven’t slept through the night (this hasn’t happened for years) but at least I’m getting there gradually.

I have to keep reminding myself about drinking water and chewing food properly but they do say it takes 21 days or so to develop a new habit. Likewise I don’t always remember to do small things to cheer myself up, but I seem to be laughing more anyway – and I did have a spa day with my sister where all we did was chat (unheard of for me to do nothing all day!).

The days when I’ve had time (about 5 out of 7) I have had a walk and done some qigong (which I am starting to enjoy – eek, never thought that would happen) and I have pretty much kept on top of all my supplements, green juices etc. I have had one pudding but I think I will let myself off the hook for that one 🙂  I have also done some supplemental things for the jawbone infection (which will lead onto the main topic of this post – at last!) namely using a magnetic pulser on the area, used PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic frequency) every day and used a cold laser almost every day, not to forget the Aplha-Stim at night (definitely helps me relax, calms my mind and helps me sleep). I am also taking MANY antimicrobials (garlic, colloidal silver, iodine, propolis, copper), as I know I really have to whack this infection to get better, rather than standing still/going backwards

Anyhow, what has detective work got to do with all this…? Well I have read posts on many adrenal fatigue forums and it seems that (as with allopathic medicine) people tend to forget that die-ease has been caused by something – or maybe a number of things – and it would be difficult to get better if those causes were not avoided/tackled. Adrenal fatigue can be caused by a multitude of things (most likely in combination, but not necessarily):

– Genetic weakness of adrenal glands (usually from mother to daughter but not always). This makes things tricky right from the start and individuals in this position will always have to be careful to pace themselves and manage stress well. Unfortunately I think we will see more and more of this as each generations gets progressively affected by weakening organs/glands and the effect of external stressors such as poor food choices, general stress and toxin overload

– Prolonged periods of emotional stress (worry, anxiety, abuse)

– Physiological stress (eg chronic infection, trauma/injury, acute infection)

– Excessive alcohol consumption

– Poor diet

–  Exposure to radiation, toxins

– Dental issues (root canals, mercury toxicity, bone infections/poor extraction techniques, gum disease)

– Gut dysbiosis (often caused by prolonged use of antibiotics

etc

These are just some examples and you can see that if a person has some sort of chronic infection, be it bacterial, viral or fungal – many of which can be well nigh impossible to shift – it wouldn’t matter how much they ‘treated’ their adrenals, they would never get better until they’d sorted the root of the problem out. Similarly, if they had gut dysbiosis (which would lead to overgrowth of bad bacteria, fungal issues and possibly parasites as well) they would need to repair and re-colonise the gut in order to move ahead healthwise.

If someone has low self-esteem, they would perhaps need to work on this before they healed – so it can be a long, long journey. The sooner the causes are identified the better, otherwise you are spending possibly a lot of money without tackling things in the right order/manner.

Happily I am feeling as if I’m moving in the right direction; still some jaw pain but it does at least come and go, rather than staying all the while, like it was before. I also still have some alarming chest pain (also a problem with late stage adrenal fatigue), but I am getting better at calming this down and easing it. Finally, age 55, I am learning the gentle art of patience 🙂