Author: Lily Mazzarella
How to eat for nervous system and adrenal stability.
Every day our digestive tracts are disassembling the outside world and providing raw materials to make our cell membranes and tissues. Every enzyme system in our body that get things done – like detox and form neurotransmitters – is nutrient-dependent. What do you want to be made out of? Probably not stale breakfast cereal or frozen Costco appetizers. You might want to be made from an organic carrot, or a piece of wild salmon, and some leafy greens.
Good food = Good mood. When we eat well, we feel better (it sort of is that simple). And good food choices create a positive self-reinforcing loop—you get to feel good knowing you’re doing something good for yourself. Healthy choices empower you to make more healthy choices. Whenever my clients are feeling overwhelmed by changing their diets, or trying an anti-inflammatory/elimination diet like the New Year’s Cleanse, I tell them: what you don’t know yet, what you can’t experience until you do experience it, is how GOOD you will feel doing this. This benefit becomes fuel and inspiration to keep going.
If you’ve never done an anti-inflammatory/elimination diet, here’s your chance. If you have done one, here’s your chance to give your body a break and get back on track. The New Year’s Cleanse leaves off common food irritants and packs in the nutrition, giving your gut a chance to heal and your system an opportunity to recalibrate. Then you can reintroduce foods and note your system’s response to them.
You can eat for nervous system and adrenal stability. Our daily food consumption tends to be “top heavy”—that is, many people eat light breakfasts, skip lunch, and then eat their most complex and dense meal at night, before trying to sleep. When our blood sugar dips from skipping meals or eating simple carbs like toast, cereal and juice, the alarm bells sound: your brain signals to release stress hormones and neurotransmitters which raise your blood sugar. A costly process that depletes your adrenals and leaves you feeling irritable and unstable. Getting 20-25 grams of protein in the morning, and then eating healthy fats and nutrient-dense, non-sugary foods throughout the day will keep your blood sugar steady, and your brain and body fueled. In this program that means: waking up to a protein smoothie, sipping on gut nourishing broths and soothing soups in the afternoon, and eating a hearty protein + veggie meal for dinner.
Adaptogens and nervines are your friends. Trust me, you will love them. There are no correlates in conventional medicine for this kind of herbal nervous system support. Adaptogens help you offset the effects of chronic stress; with regular use, people report more energy, better quality sleep, fewer sick days, and more of a “stress buffer.” Nervine herbs can be more fast-acting, and while not necessarily sedative, can have overt calming action. In the New Year’s Cleanse Kit you’ll get a chance to try both!
Every once in a while, you need a stress detox—devices, internet, news, nighttime screens, difficult/toxic people and situations. During the cleanse, limit contact with or even try giving these up. At the very least, stop screens by 7 PM, and leave emailing until the next day. Don’t go down any rabbit holes.
Hydration makes you your best self. Your brain works better when you are hydrated, your energy is more stable, and your mood is improved. According to recent hydration research, you’re a better driver (of your car, and your life). Often hydration suffers in the winter, when we’re not reminded by hot weather to drink. Water, broth, smoothies—the New Year’s Cleanse emphasizes all of these.
Bedtime is sacred. Try to go to bed by 10 PM during the cleanse. Prioritizing sleep is one of the greatest things you can do for your health, sanity, digestion and quality of life. Since many people can’t sleep in, getting more on the front end is best practice.
You deserve a calmer, more nourished, and soothed 2018.!
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