Gluten, Autoimmunity, Endurance Training, Nutrition & Adrenal Health Connections with April Reigart
Take a listen! April Reigart shares her wealth of knowledge with us! I see symptoms of adrenal fatigue allllll the time. Knowing what to look for is the key to help take care of your health!
April also shares her endurance journeys and recent diagnosis with a gluten allergy. Her story goes like this… she was chronically ill from January until May last year. Her doctors loaded her up on antibiotic after antibiotic but nothing helped so she started digging deeper… only to discover she actually has a gluten allergy!
Taking back your health…
There really is no one-size-fits-all prescription for health. What works for one person may not work at all for another person. We all have bio-individuality- meaning that we are each unique in our physical make-up. The best thing we can do is to pay attention to our bodies and to try to grow more intuitive. If you hear of an approach that sounds right for you- give it a try. However, if it doesn’t seem to fit or makes you miserable- move on! When I work with clients to change their lifestyle and eating habits- it is about figuring out their own goals and nutritional needs and challenges, and figuring out what makes them feel their best.
I train for marathons, and staying healthy is a really big deal for an endurance athlete, as the high mileage can take a toll on your immune and adrenal systems. Nutrition also becomes highly important. Athletes who cover distance (anyone exercising for a duration longer than one hour) need to refuel during their efforts. Traditionally, runners, cyclists and tri-athletes are taught to consume carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars- those packages of sugary gels and chews. The body uses that sugar as quick energy, however, most people now know that sugar is implicated in most chronic disease that we see so much of today. Also, excess sugar is stored as fat! Not to mention the insulin spikes and unstable blood sugar that is caused by constantly consuming sugars and high carbohydrate foods.
A healthier source of fuel for the body is fat! Especially MCTs (medium chain triglycerides)- like coconut oil! Following a low-carb, or more ketogenic, diet actually primes your body for burning fat as fuel, including stored body fat. I have ditched the sugary gels when I am training (which made me feel lousy) and switched to fats, and I typically consume 60-100g fat on my long training runs. For the record, I have not gained any weight- only lost.
Do you identify with any of this: Inability to lose weight (in spite of exercising and eating “right”), excess weight around your middle, low energy- especially upon waking in the morning, fatigue- especially around 3pm, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, low libido, irritability, PMS, painful periods, depression and mood swings, cravings for sugar/carbs? Do you often reach for a coffee to pick you up and carry you through? While some might initially think they have thyroid dysfunction, it might actually be a precursor to that, which is adrenal fatigue.The adrenal glands are two walnut sized organs that sit on top of your kidneys. They are responsible for producing cortisol (a.k.a. the stress hormone), DHEA (the anti-stress hormone, if you will), and adrenaline (the fight-or-flight hormone). When the adrenal glands have to constantly overproduce any or all of these hormones due to the lifestyle you’re living and the foods you’re eating (for instance, when you consume too much caffeine, your adrenals elicit a stress response in the form of cortisol…Same goes for too much sugar and processed foods)- you may experience adrenal fatigue/adrenal exhaustion.
Adrenal fatigue will compromise your immune system, which can then lead to autoimmune issues. The best case scenario- if you burn out your adrenals- is that you simply feel like crap all the time. The adrenal glands are responsible for carrying out just about every process in your body, so if they aren’t functioning well- you aren’t functioning well. To complicate matters, unless you have Addison’s disease or Cushing’s disease (two extreme cases of adrenal dysfunction), your health care provider will most likely not consider a less extreme case of adrenal fatigue. Despite the enormous amount of scientific research relating adrenal problems to a wide variety of symptoms, adrenal dysfunction is not a commonly accepted diagnosis. You have to be in touch with your body and understand how your lifestyle may be affecting you. There are many ways to heal adrenal fatigue, including cutting out the caffeine and getting adequate sleep to reset your Circadian Rhythms.
Autoimmune issues have been named a major women’s health issue by the NIH, as there are over 50 million Americans living with autoimmune disease, and 75% of the 50 million are women. Autoimmunity is the underlying cause of over 100 serious and chronic illnesses- like thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, ALS, Lupus, etc. It involves almost every organ system of the body- nervous, gastrointestinal, endocrine, skin, eyes, blood.
Basically, when the immune system is overly triggered by inflammation or food allergies, irritating proteins from food (like GMOs and processed foods), or chemical compounds inherently irritating (like lectins found in grains, the immune cells go in to overdrive and keep pumping out attack cells. However, in the case of autoimmunity, they become unable to differentiate between your own body cells and the foreign invaders. Your body begins attacking itself, which leads to a whole host of inflammatory issues. Often the symptoms seem vague in the beginning, which is why it is so misdiagnosed. When it is allowed to go on it can develop in to a specific problem, like thyroid disease, and then you go off to see a specialist. Currently there are no specialists in this country that treat autoimmunity as the umbrella disease that it is to the other more specific problems.
AD is largely genetic, which is how I arrived at my lightbulb moment, as my entire family is afflicted with one autoimmune disease or another (fibromyalgia, thyroid disease, diverticulitus, ALS, Lupus, skin conditions). The good news is that we all can alter our own gene expression through dietary and lifestyle changes. There are dietary plans out there that address healing of the gut and reversing autoimmunity.
Schedule a free health consultation with me!
I love helping people discover their own path to better health. Anyone can set up a free consultation with me to discuss their health issues, concerns and goals. People who want to implement lifestyle and dietary changes for better health and need support and guidance can work with me in either 3 or 6 month programs. The best way to contact me for an appointment is through e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. And anyone can receive free health & wellness coaching from me in the form of my monthly newsletter- just e-mail me to be added to the list!