Madrona Nutrition and Fitness: Recipe and Nutrition Guide

Madrona Nutrition and Fitness:
Guide to Wellness through Holistic Diet
and Lifestyle

Rachel Fiske
Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant,
Certified Personal Trainer

Friday, December 27, 2013

Should I Test My Adrenal Glands?

More and more in the world of holistic nutrition and medicine we are hearing about the phenomena of adrenal fatigue. I’d like to offer some easy to understand and clarifying information about the function of our adrenal glands and how they might become fatigued, and why it’s probably a good idea to test them, particularly if you suffer from some common symptoms.

What are the adrenal glands?

Our two adrenal glands are located atop our kidneys. They are endocrine glands, responsible primarily for producing our hormones in response to stress. These hormones are namely cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine and androgens. Our adrenals are made up of two parts, the inner medulla and outer cortex. The cortex is responsible for the production of our corticosteroids and androgens, while the medulla is responsible for adrenaline and noradrenaline.

How do the adrenal glands become fatigued?

In ideal circumstances, our adrenals are secreting appropriate amounts of stress hormones (particularly cortisol) at appropriate times. When we are relaxed they can relax, and when we need to react to an acute, stressful occurrence the adrenals can pump out more of the necessary stress hormones. Think: running from a tiger. The problem we encounter in our modern world is living in a more chronic state of stress, and perhaps not even realizing this is the case. Here is a list of some common stressors that can fatigue our adrenal glands over time:

  • ·      Anger
  • ·      Worry/Anxiety/Fear
  • ·      Working long hours, working a stressful job
  • ·      Relationship problems
  • ·      Too little or too much exercise
  • ·      Poor diet and nutritional deficiencies
  • ·      Gut pathogens like parasites or bacteria
  • ·      Traumatic life event, both physical and/or emotional (surgery or divorce)
  • ·      Sleep deprivation
  • ·      Chronic pain and/or inflammation

What are the Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?

There are many symptoms and they will vary from person to person, but here are some of the most common:

  • ·      Fatigue/weakness
  • ·      Feeling jittery or anxious/Irritability
  • ·      Depression
  • ·      Poor memory and Inability to concentrate
  • ·      Insomnia
  • ·      Inability to lose weight or weight gain
  • ·      Craving sugar
  • ·      Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • ·      Feeling excessively light headed upon standing
  • ·      Energy crashes throughout the day
  • ·      Dependency on caffeine or other substances
  • ·      Food allergies/sensitivities

How Can I Test my Adrenal Glands?

The good news is there is easy and affordable testing along with effective dietary and supplemental support available. Fortunately, we have access to great labs that test our cortisol levels throughout the day. This way, we can look not only at our overall cortisol output (too much or too little), but we can see our circadian rhythm. Are you feeling exhausted upon waking even after a full nights sleep, or maybe suffering from that extreme late afternoon crash that leaves you scrambling for the nearest candy bar or cup of coffee? This could be a sign that your cortisol levels are dysregulated.

For more information on adrenal testing along with individualized diet, lifestyle, and supplemental programs to get you feeling your best, contact me for a free introductory consultation!

Rachel Fiske, NC

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Could a GI Infection Be Causing Your Weight Gain?

When most of us think of having a GI (gastrointestinal) issue, we (naturally) connect it with digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, pain, diarrhea/constipation, heartburn, and other such common occurrences. While these symptoms can absolutely signify a GI infection, the most fascinating (and deceiving) part is that often we experience no glaring digestive symptoms, but instead are plagued with fatigue, weight gain, mood changes and/or hormonal imbalances. The scary part is, we would never think to link this to a GI infection, therefore never addressing the underlying problem!

First, lets take a quick look at what constitutes a GI Infection. We could be talking about a bacterial (like h. pylori), parasitic, or fungal (like candida) infections. While yeast (candida) is more commonly known, we often associate having a parasite with traveling to exotic places. This might be true, but parasites are also very easily contracted via pets or food and water right here at home. Unfortunately, testing with your MD often comes back clean even when you do, in fact, have a parasite, because they are typically only testing for certain, acute infections.

How do I know if I have a parasite?

Really, the only way to know for sure is to work with a practitioner for testing. There are some great labs out there that do very thorough and affordable GI screening. You can be clued into whether testing is right for you if you experience any of the following:

  • Chronic digestive symptoms as described above (heartburn, indigestion, IBS, bloating, gas, etc)
  • Mood disturbances (anxiety, depression, etc)
  • Constant sugar cravings
  • Unexplained weight gain or inability to lose weight with diet and exercise
  • Increased food sensitivities/allergies
  • Female hormone imbalances (irregular periods, extreme PMS)
  • Fatigue
  • Achy Joints
How do parasites or other GI Infections relate to weight gain??

When we have any of the GI infections listed above (parasite, bacteria, fungal), damage has been (and is being) done to our gut lining. This means that we aren't able to digest and absorb the nutrients from our food, and this negatively affects our tissues and organs. This is why we may likely experience symptoms in other body systems that do not appear to be directly related to the gut. 

In terms of weight gain or inability to lose weight, we must remember the cortisol connection. When we have a chronic GI infection, this triggers inflammation and therefore sends the message to our body that we need more cortisol, a primary anti-inflammatory hormone. Cortisol is also a sort of fat storage hormone, so when we are over-producing it, our body holds onto weight (particularly around the mid section).

What can I do??

The best approach is to work with a practitioner that can guide you in cutting out inflammatory foods to locate any potential food sensitivities and quell inflammation, and test your gut for these types of infections. It is also a really good idea to test your cortisol levels. After seeing whats really going on in your labs, there are easy and effective herbal and supplemental programs to address the problem, alongside (always first and foremost) diet and lifestyle changes as necessary.

Feel free to contact me at to inquire about possible testing and how to not only lose the weight, but get back to feeling your best!