hormonal imbalance

How Do I Know If I Have Adrenal Fatigue? (+ Start Healing From Adrenal Fatigue) Rebelle Nutrition

Want to skip right to the FREE 5 Day Adrenal Fatigue Detox Challenge?  Go HERE!

Want to skip right to the FREE 5 Day Adrenal Fatigue Detox Challenge? Go HERE!

If you're like most of us, you're tired, addicted to caffeine and sugar, and have a hard time falling asleep at night. 

But maybe you’re not 100% sure if it's actually adrenal fatigue, and what the term "adrenal fatigue" actually MEANS, so i’ll start by explaining that.

Adrenal fatigue is the term used to describe a variety of symptoms related to hormonal dis-regulation - specifically the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is most well known as being a "fat storage" hormone, but it also has very important roles in sleep regulation, immune function, inflammation and a whole lot more. Cortisol levels can become disrupted due to ANY and EVERY type of stress we face on a daily basis.

Of course, our bodies are designed to handle stress in small amounts (think: occasional adrenaline rush from a workout, or avoiding a car crash...acute situations things like those) but problems start occurring when our lives get so out of control that we are facing multiple chronic stressors, day in and day out, for years at a time.

What are chronic stressors?

Chronic stressors are things like food sensitivities, caffeine addiction, sugar consumption, digestive problems like leaky gut, a standard american diet (aka consuming foods your body doesn't recognize as FOOD), a stressful job, lack of sleep, always putting yourself last, being too hard on yourself/perfectionistic mentality, long-term prescription drug use, alcohol, unhealthy relationships, etc. etc. etc.

All of these stressors begin to dis-regulate our cortisol rhythms, and it’s not a matter of IF you will get adrenal fatigue, but WHEN. 

Side note: I will say that certain people are definitely more susceptible to adrenal fatigue than others: particularly type A women who are very empathetic, feel stressed out easily, and have perfectionistic/regimented mentalities around everything from their work to their family to their diet (the reason I know this is because i’m basically the poster child for this - and why I often refer to myself as a 'delicate flower' who must closely monitor my sleep, food, exercise, stress levels, etc. in order to NOT fall back into adrenal fatigue).

So if you're thinking you might have adrenal fatigue but aren't 100% convinced, here are some ways to know for sure that your cortisol is F***ed. 

1. Fatigue - Duh

If you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus in the morning, but get a second wind and feel super wired around 9/10 pm and can’t fall asleep, this is not normal.  A normal cortisol rhythm would have you feeling your most awake in the morning (when cortisol is highest) and drop off slowly the rest of the day (allowing for melatonin production to take over before you fall asleep)

The good news about having this symptom though, is that it means you are in the beginning stages of adrenal fatigue because cortisol is still being produced (just at the wrong times). Once you are in the later stages of adrenal fatigue, you will feel extremely tired at all times (with NO energy spikes) because cortisol levels will have nearly flatlined.

2. Low blood pressure/ Low blood sugar

If you get dizzy or see spots or even black out when you stand up - this is a big indicator that your blood pressure is very low - a common symptom of adrenal fatigue, because cortisol is responsible for monitoring blood pressure. Also, electrolyte/mineral balance is one of the functions of healthy adrenals, so when they are working improperly, it can effect your blood pressure (and cravings for salt). 

Another symptom that goes hand in hand with this one is intense cravings for salt and sugar - your body is smart and your adrenal glands thrive off of the minerals in salt - plus it knows that salt will help raise your blood pressure.  In addition, your body craves sugar as a way to temporarily increase blood sugar since hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is viewed as a "danger" to the body (and yet another result of disrupted cortisol).

Video more your thing? Watch my video about how to know if you have adrenal fatigue below!

 

3. increased cravings

Speaking of hypoglycemia - cortisol is needed to free up stored glucose from the liver and raise blood sugar - so when cortisol production is low (in advanced stages of adrenal fatigue) combined with high amounts of insulin from stress, your cells are unable to get the sufficient amount of glucose and nutrients that they require for energy production.

THIS MEANS THAT YOUR CELLS ARE LITERALLY STARVING FOR NUTRIENTS - which can lead to increased cravings, very little satiety from the foods you eat, and inevitably, weight gain.

4. weight gain (but it's not because you're eating too much)

Ohhh weight gain - this is another symptom of adrenal fatigue for the reason I just described, but ALSO because most people who are susceptible to adrenal fatigue have been fueling their bodies improperly for many years. On the one end this could be due to a standard american diet with tons of processed foods, trans fats, and sugar for many years, but much more commonly...

Adrenal fatigue occurs for reasons on the complete other end of the spectrum - and this looks like years of low-fat or low-calorie diets, past disordered eating patterns, over-exercise, or even constant stress about what your body looks like (mental stress IS STILL STRESS).

Listen, I know this is counterintuitive- and against the mainstream advice of "eating less and exercising more" in order to lose weight. If this theory actually worked, WAY fewer women would be struggling with their weight.

But the body is more than a math equation- and your metabolism is not as simple as calories in vs calories out. 

Say you eat 1200-1500 calories a day (as recommended by many fitness/diet magazines) and workout intensely for 1 hour a day. Your basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories you burn just to be alive and lay in bed all day) is roughly 1200 calories depending on your build. Subtract around 400 calories from that for your workout, and you are already in a deficit. 

This COULD mean initial weight loss, but what generally happens is that after a few weeks or months your body will rebelle (he,he) and say WTF! THIS IS STRESSFUL! I'M IN A FAMINE!

...and then, because the body is incredible and is trying to save your life, it will down-regulate your metabolism and hold onto nearly every calorie you eat out of fear that you will starve. Not to mention, hormones are created from the nutrients that we eat. So that means a deficit of nutrients/calories means a deficit, or even lack of production of adrenal hormones like cortisol - but also of sex hormones like progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, etc. 

As you can imagine, this is where hormonal problems like missing periods, infertility, hot flashes, brutal menopause, and even hormonal acne come into play- and are yet another symptom of adrenal fatigue.

If any of the things I just talked about resonated with you, first and foremost -

DON'T PUT YOURSELF FURTHER INTO ADRENAL FATIGUE BY STRESSING OUT ABOUT IT!

 

Want more adrenal fatigue resources? Grab the cheatsheet on healing adrenal fatigue!

 

 

XO,

Amie

Questions? Comments? Leave them below!

3 Reasons You're Still Tired AF + What To Do Now

I wish I had a time machine so that I could read this post to myself 5 years ago. My hope is that if you are feeling the effects of extreme fatigue, that this post will give you a starting point on which daily habits, organ systems, and mindset shifts needing to be addressed before you diagnose yourself thanks to Dr. Google. 

I'll just start by saying that it is NOT normal to feel exhausted, day after day, especially if you aren't doing anything to warrant the exhaustion (i.e training for a marathon, taking care of a newborn, etc). 

Here are a few symptoms that I see as big red flags that something needs to change, beyond the usual Paleo-fixes:

  • Difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Inability to function without lots of caffeine 
  • "Wired" feeling at night 
  • Digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation, or acid reflux
  • Intense sugar/salt cravings 
  • Unable to preform in workouts
  • Brain fog, forgetfulness
  • General malaise 

If this sounds like you, there are the few possible culprits behind why you might still be tired AF:

1. Your diet still sucks

Don't worry, i'm not going to tell you (again) to focus on nutrient dense foods and avoid anything processed (you can read about that here!). The first thing to look at if you are still feeling tired AF is not just the quality but the quantity of food in your diet.

Are you eating enough Carbs? Fat? Calories?  

Also, this may seem like a no-brainer, but if you are expending more energy than you are taking in (i.e lengthy gym sessions) and not giving yourself enough time to recover, this will quickly lead to fatigue and eventually, adrenal burnout. 

2. You aren't digesting your food

Your nutrition is on point and you aren't overly stressing out your body via exercise, work stress, or otherwise. The next thing to look at is the quality of your digestion. 

Do you reach for Tums after every meal? Do you only poop every other day? Do you have diarrhea multiple times per week? (newsflash: none of these things are normal!!!)

These are all signs that something has gone awry in your gut, whether that be low HCL, leaky gut, food sensitivities, or possible gut infection or imbalance of good gut bacteria. Here are a few of my favorite troubleshooting solutions:

Improve HCL/ enzyme production: Swedish bitters, Betaine HCL, apple cider vinegar or warm lemon water before meals

Determine food sensitivities: MRT testing, elimination diet

Balance gut bacteria: invest in a high quality probiotic, and be sure to rotate strains very 3 months or so

Repair leaky gut: L-glutamine, collagen peptides, bone broth, remove food triggers

3. You have adrenal fatigue

(We did a whole podcast on this topic - listen here)

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include chronic fatigue, cravings for sugar/salt, difficulty waking in the morning and falling asleep at night, decreased sex drive, less enjoyment out of life, and many others. 

Your adrenal glands are two pea-shaped glands that sit atop the kidneys and are responsible for not only our bodies "fight or flight" reaction, but our output of important hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Levels of cortisol should be highest in the morning, allowing us to wake up with ease and energy. By the end of the day, cortisol (should) be at its lowest, allowing for melatonin production to take over and for us to fall asleep easily. 

When the body has been under chronic stressors such as malnutrition, work stress, a divorce, too much caffeine, or even perceived stressors like finances; the adrenal glands respond by producing either too much or too little cortisol, at the wrong times (depending on the stage of adrenal fatigue). For example, this is why many people will have an extremely difficult time waking up in the morning, but then suddenly feel "wired" once 10PM hits. 

Sound like you? Here are a few things to try, once you've followed the steps from #1 and #2. 

  • Destress
  • Eliminate caffeine
  • Only do low stress workouts such as yoga or walking
  • Prioritize sleep
  • Put self-care first!!!
  • Make sure to get the adequate nutrients needed to support the adrenals - specifically vitamin C, B vitamins, Zinc, Magnesium and Essential Fatty Acids. 
  • Remember that you can supplement with these nutrients until you're blue in the face, but if the source of stress is not remedied, you're still going to be tired AF
  • Pinpoint and remove as many stressful stimuli as possible. 

Think you have adrenal fatigue?

Sign up for the FREE 5 Day Adrenal Fatigue Detox Challenge HERE!

 

Tell me in the comments:

Have you tried everything listed but you're still tired AF? (AF= As Fuck :) )

*This post contains affiliate links*

How I Healed My Cystic Acne (Rebelle Nutrition)

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Acne sucks. There’s nothing else quite like having a big insecurity (on your face) that you can’t get rid of.

In my early 20’s I had painful, cystic acne, mostly around my mouth and jaw. I tried everything from Proactiv, to face masks, to toners, to the oil cleansing method, to a prescription that forced me to avoid sun exposure. At one point, I even remember wishing my doctor would prescribe me Accutane so that I could at least have some relief from the painful blemishes that would not let up.

Now that my cystic acne is healed, I have so much empathy for others who have the same problem. I know how hard it is to feel extremely self-conscious, out of control, and in physical pain because of your skin.

Here are the things that did work for me:

1. Balanced my hormones

I was prescribed the birth control pill at age 16 due to irregular periods, and stayed on it until about age 22 when I started to notice severe cystic acne all over my chin and jaw. I've never had more than a few small zits before, so I knew something was totally out of whack with my body. Looking back, this all began around the same time I started experiencing a multitude of other symptoms like hair loss, fatigue and mood swings. At the time, I blamed everything on the pill. This was also around the time I started to become interested in natural medicine and nutrition, so going off of the pill felt like a natural progression to me. When I went off of the pill, my acne improved for a short period and then came back with a vengeance which led me to step 2, reassessing my diet.

2. Changed my diet

During a majority of college, I was on the Kashi go-lean, Splenda, skim milk and booze diet. As you can imagine, these foods didn’t do my skin any favors. This meant I was consuming tons of processed soy and wheat, artificial sweeteners, and dairy on a daily basis. These foods contributed to a leaky gut due to consistently eating them despite signals from my body that I was intolerant to them (severe bloating and acid reflux). To this day, I will almost immediately start to break-out if I eat soy, artificial sweeteners or dairy.

***Sometimes dairy is worth it for me though 😃

Another thing that was severely lacking in my college diet was essential fatty acids. Once I began to add in egg yolks, avocado, and coconut oil, the quality of my skin improved drastically and I noticed that the oil production and tone of my skin began to normalize. I also began to slowly shift towards more of a paleo-style way of eating that included lots of vegetables, fruits, sweet potatoes, eggs, and meats. I focused on eating more slowly, in a relaxed and parasympathetic state to aid digestion.


3. Healed my gut

Like I mentioned in step 1, after I went off of the birth control pill, I began to get really interested in finding natural cures instead of turning to prescriptions. Another medication I had been on for over 4 years was Prilosec (a Proton Pump Inhibitor prescribed for acid reflux that essentially turns off the production of stomach acid). I knew that Prilosec was “working” for me (read: no acid reflux) , but the more research I did, the more I felt intuitively like I needed to ween off of it. I was still experiencing some mild acne despite making dietary changes, and noticed that the days I skipped my Prilosec I noticed immediate breakouts and skin irritation. To be honest, weening myself off of the medication was a painful process and took a long time. One of the biggest things this signaled to me was that my gut still needed healing, and I needed to slowly increase my stomach acid production in order to digest and absorb nutrients again. There was a lot of trial and error involved and I wish I could go back and help myself with the knowledge I have now, but here are a few things that really worked for me:

- Apple cider vinegar and bitters with meals (both act as a digestive aid, increasing stomach acid production and lowering stomach ph)
- High quality probiotics and fermented foods (I like prescript-assist) kombucha, sauerkraut and kefir (if you tolerate dairy) are all great options.
- Nutrients to help heal and seal my gut lining (bone broth, aloe vera, licorice - this product is a great combination of all gut-healing nutrients and I still use it as needed)

To this day I continue to use all of these things as a preventative measure against acid reflux, acne, and any other stomach issues.
I do notice that if I am traveling, or forget to do one of these things, my acne and acid reflux begin to slowly creep up again.

4. Stopped intense exercise

After my skin had cleared up a bit, I started to make a correlation between when my intense workouts, and having cystic breakouts within 24 hours. Stopping intense exercise one was the most difficult for me, as I have always been an athlete and look to fitness as a great stress reliever. However, over time I continued to make my workouts longer and more intense, which eventually left me completely wiped out. The more research I did about hormonal acne (cystic acne generally around the jaw and chin- what I had) the more it became clear to me that my exercise routine might be contributing to my painful, blemished skin. Unlike most of the other tips i’ve listed which were slow and gradual, the changes to my skin from NOT exercising happened almost overnight. Once I stopped running long distances, sprinting, or doing any movements that caused adrenal stress (the fight or flight) response, my skin calmed down immediately, became less painful, and looked more vibrant. Another positive side effect to this was that stopping the intense exercise also helped eliminate any lingering acid reflux symptoms. I found this super interesting and finally made the connection that skin and digestive health are closely linked, and my troubles were stemming from the adrenal stress of working out too intensely.

That said, even if you aren't an exercise-addict like I was, but are still experiencing cystic acne, it is important to look at other areas of your life that may be causing adrenal stress, i.e your caffeine habit? Lack of sleep? Work/school stress? Food allergies? Relationship stress? etc.

5. Changed my skincare routine

I am all about natural foods, skincare and beauty products, but the oil cleansing method, apple cider vinegar shit did NOT work for me. Discovering BeautyCounter products was a complete game-changer for my skin, and the icing on the cake after doing the internal healing that needed to occur.

Here is what my skincare routine looks like these days:

-I wash my face morning and night with the detoxifying charcoal bar.
(I also NEVER go to sleep with makeup on. That's a big one.)


- I use this mask 2-3x a week over my entire face. I also use it as a spot treatment when I feel a pimple start to form on my jawline or chin - and voila! The next day it is nearly gone, and much less painful.


- Despite having acne-prone skin, I experience a lot of dullness/dryness - and I also have acne scars that I am trying to heal. I use this balancing face oil twice a day after cleansing, and the blend of pure plant oils absorbs quickly into my skin without being greasy. To be honest, I was terrified of putting MORE oil on top of my acne-prone skin, but if anything, this oil has improved any current acne breakouts, while continuing to heal any past scars or redness.

I tell you this not because I think my routine will be perfect for everyone, but because sometimes you have to try a million different products before figuring out what works for you.

For so long, I thought that the ONLY way I was going to heal the external appearance of my skin was through toxic skincare products - especially because the "all natural" solutions made my skin worse.

Beautycounter products provide the look and feel of expensive department-store brand skincare products, but WITHOUT any of the toxic ingredients. Win/ win? I think yes.
(And no, i'm not being paid to say this - I am just f*ing obsessed with their products. Anyone who has had acne will understand my excitement here.)

*If you can get away with washing your face less than 2x a day- that is ideal! The natural oils produced from your skin can be very beneficial in preventing wrinkles, so you don’t want to wipe them off! Unfortunately for me, washing less than 2x a day causes me to start breaking out again.

Want to learn how to turn your passion for skin/acne prevention into a profitable business you can run from anywhere?


I want to hear from you! What changes have you made to your diet, lifestyle or skincare routine that have improved your acne? Or are you still struggling?

How Your Digestion is Causing: Hormonal Imbalance

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Hormonal problems are often viewed as a part of getting older, or a burden that women must accept a few days every month. In this blog post, I will discuss how maintaining proper digestion, choosing nutrient dense foods, and managing stress (real or perceived) is the best way to avoid and remedy a host of hormonal symptoms you may be experiencing.

How many people do you know that either suffer from digestive problems or are extremely stressed out?

Exactly. It is no wonder then, why hormonal problems are rampant in today’s society.
The most common hormonal symptoms include:

  • Mood swings
  • PMS
  • Infertility
  • Night sweats/ hot flashes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased libido
  • Cravings
  • Post-partum depression
  • Morning sickness
  • Endometriosis
  • Insomnia/ poor sleep patters
  • Loss of muscle mass/ belly fat gain
  • Cystic acne

It is my opinion that symptoms like the ones listed above are indicators that the hormones in the body are out of balance - and not something that you must accept as part of being a woman. If hormonal balance is restored, a significant decrease or complete elimination of these symptoms will often occur.

How is hormonal balance achieved?

The answer to this question is very specific to each individual. However, addressing diet, stress management, mineral deficiencies, essential fatty acid deficiency and digestion are the keys to making sure your hormones are being produced regularly, in the proper amounts for your age, sex, activity level, etc.

Since this series is focused on digestion, lets first look at some of the ways that the digestive organs are paramount in healthy hormone production.

The stomach must have the proper level of acidity (HCl) to digest the amino acids, fats, and carbohydrates that are essential to healthy hormone production. For example, thyroid hormones are derived from amino acids; amino acids are produced when protein molecules are sufficiently broken down by HCl, pepsin and digestive enzymes. Leaky gut also causes a host of hormonal problems by raising cortisol (the stress-regulating hormone produced by the adrenal glands). High cortisol triggers the suppression of the immune system in the gut, decreasing gut immunity, leading to more leaky gut. We’ll get into why this stress response is so important in a second.

Essential fatty acids must be properly digested to not only form cholesterol (precursor to hormones) but to produce anti-inflammatory properties before menstruation (without this key component, think extreme menstrual cramps, PMS).

The liver is one of the most important digestive organs, specifically in terms of hormonal regulation. This is because the liver deactivates hormones that are in excess and no longer functional in the body. When cortisol is elevated (either from leaky gut, a poor diet, or a stress response) the liver's ability to effectively remove excess hormones is highly decreased.

The small intestine is where a majority of the nutrients you eat are absorbed and utilized by the body to create and sustain healthy hormone levels. This includes proteins, fats and carbs as I mentioned before, but also vitamins and minerals that are essential to hormonal health like iodine, zinc, manganese chromium, selenium and copper. All hormones run on nutrients, which is why the digestion of these nutrients is vital.

STRESS
The discussion of healthy hormones cannot be complete without talking about stress. Stressors not only include things that you perceive as stressful (running from a predator, traffic, deadlines) but also things that your body perceives as stress:

Sugar
Alcohol
Emotional stress
Nutritional deficiencies
Allergies
Food sensitivities

The combination of impaired digestion and stress results in chronic output of cortisol by the body, which can lead to a host of hormonal problems:

Estrogen dominance
Decreased liver function
Low progesterone
Abnormal progesterone/estrogen ratio
Adrenal Exhaustion
Thyroid problems
…and more

So what can I eat to ensure proper hormone balance?

Make sure you are getting a sufficient amount of essential fatty acids (coconut oil, cold water fish, grass fed meats, poultry, avocado, egg yolk, etc). EFA’s and cholesterol are the substrate that hormones are made from, therefore a lack of EFA’s (or insufficient digestion of them) will easily lead to hormonal imbalance


Intake of green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables which help the liver detoxify extra estrogen out of the body


Be aware of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are a group of plant- derived compounds that are similar in structure and function to the estrogens made in the body. Most people (men included) have more than enough estrogen in the body as it is. If you are someone with a diagnosed hormonal imbalance or suffer from things like breast tenderness/cysts, uterine fibroids, or endometriosis, it is even more important that you limit phytoestrogens.

Here is a list of foods with highest phytoestrogen content:
- Soy (tofu, edamame, tempeh,soy protein isolate)
- Flax seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Oats, barley, rice
- Beans and lentils

Also, focus on gut healing! I give lots of tips here, here and here.

Finally,

Relax! Here are a few of my favorite ways to relax:
Deep breathing
Yoga
Massage
Baths
Reading
Talk to a friend
Remove any unnecessary stressors from your life (social media, watching the news, allergens, caffeine, alcohol, etc)

 

You DON'T have to continue to suffer from allergies, digestive problems, anxiety, hormone imbalance, or any other chronic symptoms that seem to get worse with age.

xoxo, Amie