Combating Adrenal Fatigue

Ward off adrenal fatigue by implementing adrenal-supporting habits into your daily routine.

Article by Divina Helene|May 4, 2021

The rigors of daily life coupled with poor lifestyle choices can lead to, or exasperate, a number of chronic conditions and ailments, and adrenal fatigue may be one of the first noticeable symptoms of prolonged stress and bad habits. The adrenal glands, a part of the endocrine system, produce and regulate hormones in the body and chronic stress, a lackluster diet, or poor sleep habits can send this delicate system into a frenzy, resulting in either too much or too little cortisol in the bloodstream. The result? Adrenal fatigue: tiredness and low-energy, brain fog, irritability and moodiness, decreased sex-drive, insulin resistance, hair, skin and nail changes, sleep issues, and hormone imbalances.

So how do we keep our cortisol levels in check and avoid adrenal fatigue? Reducing stress and developing healthy, adrenal-supportive habits are essential. Here are some helpful tips on how to reduce stress and support your adrenal glands:

Avoid foods that can over-work the adrenal glands. This includes caffeine, refined sugars, processed foods, and an excessive intake of carbohydrates.

Include foods that support the adrenal glands. This includes nuts and seeds, pasture-raised lean meats, wild-caught salmon, fruits and vegetables (especially cruciferous), fermented foods, and avocados.

Prioritize rest. Rest when you feel the need to rest. Prioritize sleep by putting away the blue-light emitting smart phones and laptops well before bed-time and enjoy a book and a cup of chamomile tea instead. Aim to be in bed by 10PM and get 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Check out our article, Seven Steps to Better Sleep, here.

Move your body daily. Be sure to exercise or move your body daily even if it’s only for 20 minutes. Tackle some yard work or go for a brisk walk around the neighborhood or office building. Yoga in particular is a wonderful, stress-reducing practice.

Supplement with adaptogenic botanicals. Adaptogens like ashwaganda, astragalus, ginseng, rhodiola, maca and cordyceps have been used for centuries to help the body cope with stress and to support the adrenals.

Practice self-care. Do things that make you happy. Laugh daily. Slow down. Relax. Tell yourself “I love you. You are enough.” and believe it—often. Self-love and self-care is at the root of healing. Check out our article, Human in the Mirror, here.

 

 

Ashley Rarick’s Calming Chamomile-Rose Tea

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3 Ways to Boost Your Immunity Now

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Help Your Body Detox

Your body is detoxing all the time—how are you helping?

Article by Divina Helene|February 17, 2021

Detox has become such a buzzword, hasn’t it? One might imagine that detoxing requires expensive and extreme diets or protocols but that isn’t always the case. Your body is designed to detox; it’s constantly purging and detoxing from harmful substances and toxins all the time. While there may be a time and a place for more immersive or extreme detoxes, I do believe that we can help our body in its everyday detoxing efforts. It’s important to note that multiple organs play a critical role in the detoxification process; from the skin, to the lungs, to the liver.

Let’s take a look at some of your body’s key detox players and explore ways to support these systems as they work to keep you thriving and healthy:

THE SKIN. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and one that’s constantly in contact with the external environment, so it’s no surprise that the skin plays a massive role in keeping toxins, pathogens, and other contaminants out of the body. Your skin also expels toxins via sweat. We can support this system in a number of ways. First of all, keep your skin clean. Your skin is in constant contact with environmental pollutants, toxins, and pathogens, especially the face and hands, so it’s important to shower or bathe regularly using natural, mild soaps (Dr. Bronner is a favorite in our home).

Allowing the skin to “breathe” and sweat efficiently is important, too, and often times heavy lotions, anti-perspirants, make-up, and even sunscreen block the pores and keep the skin from functioning adequately. Keep your skin (and the vital role it plays in the detoxification process) in mind when selecting washing detergents, cleaning solutions, make-up, soaps, shampoos, and even clothing. For added support, consider regular sauna or infrared sauna use which help the body expel stored chemicals, including heavy metals, through sweating.

THE LUNGS. The lungs pull waste, or carbon dioxide, from the blood, which is what you expel when you exhale. When you inhale, the lungs supply fresh oxygen to the blood, which then travels throughout the body—and to all the other essential detoxification organs. We don’t think about breathing much thanks to our autonomic nervous system but when you actually do pause to think about it, you’d recognize that taking longer, fuller inhales would supply the blood with more oxygen per breath, and that longer, deeper exhales would expel more waste than a shallow exhale. This is why breathwork or the practice of diaphragmatic breathing is gaining traction in the West. This type of mindful, rhythmic breathing not only supports the body’s gas exchange, but it also stimulates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system (that’s you, rest and digest). As the diaphragm expands and contracts, it massages the body’s lymphatic system—another essential component in the detoxification process. TRY THIS: Take 5-minutes a day to practice mindful, rhythmic breathing. Inhale through the nose until you feel your belly fill up with air. Hold here for 3-seconds. Exhale through the mouth, slowly and completely.

We can also support our lungs by being mindful of the air we breath. Clean air is a fundamental human right. Unfortunately, we can’t eliminate all the pollutants and toxins from our air. It’s important to treat your home like the sanctuary that it should be. Swap out the harsh, traditional, and toxic cleaners for the something more natural (our go-to, easy-to-find natural cleaning products are Seventh Generation). Invest in an air purifier to help eliminate airborne allergens like pollen, pet dander, mold spores, microbes, dust, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from cooking and smoke. We love our Winix Air Purifier with an advanced 3-stage filtration and PlasmaWave® Technology. Diffusing essential oils naturally and effectively purifies the air in your home or office, too. We use tea tree and peppermint often.

THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM. The lymphatic system plays a crucial role in detoxification and immune response. The lymphatic system is most simply described as a comprehensive drainage and fluid-balancing network consisting of the lymphatic fluid (which transports infection-fighting white blood cells), the lymph nodes (there are about 600!), lymphatic vessels, the thoracic duct, the thymus, the spleen, bone marrow, the tonsils and adenoids (the first lines of defense against foreign invaders), and the appendix (good for something, eh?). A sluggish lymphatic system is no good and can cause extreme fatigue, swelling or weight gain, frequent colds or sinus infections, brain fog, and depression to name a few. So what causes a sluggish lymphatic system? Over-exposure to toxic chemicals, a sedentary lifestyle, a poor diet and dehydration are often to blame.

Nurture your lymphatic system by moving your body daily, drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, and eating a clean, minimally processed diet. Other things to try: trampolining, dry brushing, lymphatic massage, and herbs like red clover, echinacea, and astragalus. For an individually tailored Ayurvedic approach to lymphatic health, you may want to consider a session with Ayurvedic practitioner, Ashley Rarick, of Ayurvedic Vitality.

THE LIVER. Talk about a powerhouse! The liver is responsible for over 500 vital functions in the body, from the production of bile, which helps break down fats in the small intestine, to the conversion of excess glucose into glycogen for storage, to purifying the blood from harmful drugs and other substances, including bacteria. Once these harmful substances are broken down by the liver, the by-products are excreted in the bile (which enters the intestine and are excreted as feces) or blood (which gets filtered by the kidneys and is excreted as urine). Clearly, the liver is a crucially involved in the detoxification process. Support your liver with a clean, minimally processed diet. Remove hydrogenated oils, refined sugars, and conventional lunch meats from your diet, as these create inflammation in the body. Amp up the potassium-rich foods (like beans, bananas, spinach, and tomatoes) and be mindful of your alcohol and over-the-counter drug consumption.

THE KIDNEYS. These two fist-sized, bean-shaped organs are well-known as the blood’s filtration system, but they also help balance the body’s fluid levels as well as regulate electrolytes as well as release hormones that help regulate blood pressure. They filter and recirculate 200 quarts of fluid in one day! In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are known as the root of our life-force and the foundation of health, vitality, and longevity.

Help support the optimal function of your kidneys by understanding your risk. Has anyone in your family suffered from kidney failure? Are you on medications that may damage the kidneys when taken long-term (prescription or non-prescription)? Are you diabetic, overweight, or at-risk for cardiovascular disease?

Show your kidneys a little love by staying hydrated, frequently stimulating blood flow to the area through gentle kidney massage or yoga postures like spinal twists, back bends, and forward folds that you hold for longer periods of time (Yin Yoga), and foods like bone broth, miso, seaweed, beans (black and kidney), and fish.

OTHER WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR BODY IN DETOXIFICATION:

Scrape your tongue first thing in the morning. Have you heard of a tongue scraper? This nifty, easy-to-sanitize device is designed specifically to clean your tongue, unlike a toothbrush. A tongue scraper is essential in maintaining optimum oral health and hygiene. A tongue scraper effortlessly scrapes away the toxic build-up on your tongue that your body has worked to purge and push out overnight. It’s essential to brush your teeth and scrape your tongue before consuming any food or drink which can carry those toxins right back in. If you need to brush, rinse or floss again after eating breakfast, then by all means, do. Our family uses Dr. Tung’s Stainless Steel Tongue Cleaner.

Get your sleep. Not only is sleep essential for clearing toxins from the visceral body, but sleep also helps clear toxins from the brain! The space between your brain cells increases as you sleep, allowing fluid to flush through and clear out anything that doesn’t belong. Our body needs sleep, and far too many struggle with it. For more tips on getting better sleep, read Seven Steps to Better Sleep.

Give your body less to detox. For all that we can’t control, there is so much that we can. For example, we can’t usually control what pollutants we come into contact with as we walk down a busy city street, but we can consciously choose to eat a healthier diet by eliminating packaged and overly-processed foods (and eating organic when possible), just as we can make the choice to switch to more natural-based cleaning and personal care products in support of our health.

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Reflections From a Walk in the Woods

We must remember that our single greatest power as free and sovereign beings, is the ability to create our own reality; a reality that deeply resonates with us and truly feeds our soul and purpose here on Earth. We get to choose freedom over enslavement, peace over war, individuality over conformity.

Article by Divina Helene|January 20, 2021

Saturday, January 16, 2021: sunny and nearly 75-degrees in the dead of a California winter. My husband and I decided it was a good day to take to the trails at the sprawling Jack London State Park with our boys for a little nature therapy. The historic park, former ranch and residence of the acclaimed author nestled against the serene Sonoma Mountains, is quite the sight to behold with it’s peaceful knolls shrouded in oaks, meticulously terraced vineyards, mossy stone ruins, and majestic redwoods. I can never anticipate what a day in nature may conjure-up for me but I trust that it’s exactly what I need in that moment; a profound realization, perhaps, or a happy memory, or just a quiet space to reflect, to cry, to observe.

We left the house right after breakfast and arrived before most. As the morning drew on, the park grew busier but even then, we rarely crossed paths with anyone else, or did so from ample distance. You see, the sheer grandeur of the terrain with it’s many routes and trails naturally separates one group from the next. As I encouraged my boys to take deep, purposeful breaths of fresh, bio-rich air as the sun kissed our skin and our hands caressed the trunks of the giant redwood trees, everyone else hid behind a face-covering. This was perplexing to me; after all, an integral part of venturing out into nature, is breathing it in. I had hoped that any sensibly-thinking adult would deem a face-covering in this instance not only unnecessary but flat-out counter-intuitive.

While we found it rather peculiar behavior, we shrugged it off; to each his own, we thought, and continued on our way walking, laughing, talking, observing, listening. Then out of the silence a panicked father some distance behind us screamed, “They’re not wearing masks so we’re not going to go anywhere near them!” It appeared that his young daughter, in all her innocent enthusiasm and curiosity, dared to jet ahead of her group. At that very moment, an indescribable feeling of confusion and sadness came over me.

Confusion because the young girl came nowhere near us; confusion because even if she did, there would be nothing to worry about—we weren’t ill nor in a enclosed space together where illness may be more transmissible; confusion because surely her father was over-reacting—wasn’t he? Sadness because I felt sorry for that little girl; sadness because of how genuinely frightened her father was; sadness over the disillusionment and mental anguish so many are clearly suffering. I thought for a moment, am I living in an alternate reality? Surely I must be for how is it possible to feel so comfortable and safe and at peace here under the redwood trees while clearly so many do not?

This feeling of confusion and sadness lingered for only short time before I came to my senses and remembered, of course I’m living in an alternate reality—my own reality, just as the panicked father is living in his own reality, too (a reality alternate from mine). These realities are in constant evolution, and are shaped by many, many things. Neither is right nor wrong, good nor bad, although, if you’re not assertive or discerning enough, you do run the risk of what I like to call a ‘hijacked-reality’ in which your perceived reality actually isn’t yours at all but rather a reality created for you by others. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it’s a forfeit of your power nonetheless, and that’s never a good thing. We must remember that our single greatest power as free and sovereign beings, is the ability to create our own reality; a reality that deeply resonates with us and truly feeds our soul and purpose here on Earth. We get to choose freedom over enslavement, peace over war, individuality over conformity.

Unfortunately, as I’ve come to realize over the past year, far too many are willing—almost eager, it seems—to relinquish that power at the mere flip of a switch, casting themselves full-throttle into the chaos without so much as a second thought. Is this poor, frantic father a victim of a ‘hijacked-reality’? I don’t know. Am I? I suppose it’s possible. But if I had to choose between living in his reality or living in mine, I’d choose mine over and over and over again.

To each his own.

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When Stress Becomes Chronic

I don’t want to believe that it took a pandemic of global proportions to prove to us that this sub-life is unsustainable. But I guess it did. The subliminal signs weren’t enough to slow down our lives on our own accord. It’s remarkable, in a dark, strange way, just how much stress the body can take before complete and utter exhaustion, and how the mind continues to justify it.

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Eat, Drink, and Be Merry—Without the Guilt

It's hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner! As a Holistic Nutritionist and clean-eating advocate, I have a few tips to share with you about enjoying the upcoming Holiday—guilt free.

Article by Divina Helene|November 20, 2020

With Thanksgiving ringing in our Holiday season next week, I thought I would offer up a bit of advice on enjoying the Holiday season without the guilt that often accompanies large Holidays.

First of all, let’s be clear: there is a difference between eating mindfully and eating obsessively. One allows you to deviate from your usual healthy, well-rounded diet here and there without harboring any guilt or shame, while the other is so restrictive that you’re almost setting yourself up for disappointment.

It’s imperative to approach your general diet mindfully so as to diminish the possibility of developing an obsessive and unhealthy relationship to food and eating. Eating mindfully means that while you may eat a healthy, well-balanced diet most of the time, you’ve granted yourself the permission to indulge and enjoy food and drink outside of your usually well-balanced diet when the mood strikes and knowing that you won’t feel guilty about it—knowing that you’ll get back to your usual diet soon—knowing it’s not a big deal and that you didn’t “fall off the wagon”.

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, it’s helpful to focus on what we can add to our plates as opposed to what we should leave off or restrict ourselves from (remember, mindful over obsessive). Don’t skimp on the nutritious and filling good stuff like greens and veggies. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially between alcoholic beverages and all-day grazing, to keep yourself hydrated and less-likely to overeat (thirst can be mistaken for hunger, you know). Offer to make a favorite side-dish to share to keep your options vast. And lastly, don’t be afraid to indulge and stray from the usual. This is what it means to be a mindful eater, so let’s eat drink, and be merry! Happy Thanksgiving.

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Thoughts on the Times

More emphasis must be placed on educating the masses on other ways to “slow the spread”—more like “slow the spread of the many chronic diseases plaguing Americans and leaving them susceptible to complications from COVID-19 or any other cold or flu."

Article by Divina Helene|November 2, 2020

I don’t know about you, but I believe that more emphasis must be placed on educating the masses on other ways to “slow the spread”—more like “slow the spread of the many chronic diseases plaguing Americans and leaving them susceptible to complications from COVID-19 or any other cold or flu”. No one is immune from catching COVID-19 but let’s be honest—Americans have never been sicker, more obese, more depressed, or more unhappy, and to me, this is the biggest concern of all. Is COVID-19 the straw that will brake the camel’s back? I hate to say it but masks and a pantry stocked to the brim with shelf-stable foods isn’t going to save us from the twisted, dysfunctional food system that’s been wrecking havoc on American health long before COVID-19.

There is so much that we can’t control—like the viruses and bacteria living among (and within) us at any given moment in time—so why not shift the focus to what we actually have a decent shot at?

A Note to My Boys in 2020

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‘Ol Blue Eyes

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Get Back to the Basics

Navigating our ever-changing world can seem like the first day of a summer circus gig on repeat; the second you get the hang of one trick, they go and change things up on you.

Article by Divina Helene|April 1, 2020

Navigating our ever-changing world can seem like the first day of a summer circus gig on repeat; the second you get the hang of one trick, they go and change things up on you. So when it feels like you’re barely holding your head high enough above the water, remember that things don’t have to be so complicated, and that you’re in control of a lot more than you might think.

When the going gets tough, remember to:

breathe deep
drink water
focus on the positive
love your neighbor
move daily
seek knowledge
eat the rainbow
get outside
be fearless
sleep
reduce your carbon footprint
love yourself
connect with others
be the change

Human in the Mirror

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Seven Steps to Better Sleep

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Fresh InspirationforLiving Well