Adrenal Fatigue and the Vagus Nerve

What is the Vagus Nerve?

If you’ve been at this adrenal “stuff” for some time, most likely you’ve heard of the vagus nerve. You know it’s important, but you’re not sure EXACTLY why.

Well, it’s CRUCIAL that you understand this FOR YOUR RECOVERY.

Are you ready to find out why this is said to be the most important nerve in the body?

When you understand the connection between the vagus nerve and all the symptoms you’re feeling, I imagine it will be a big motivator to start incorporating practices that keep this nerve functioning at it’s best.  

The Skinny on the Vagus Nerve

The Vagus nerve is one of our 12 cranial nerves. These cranial nerves start in the brain and are each connected to different organs in the body. When these cranial nerves become compromised it impacts the associated organs and that organ’s function/s.

The vagus nerve is said to be the most important nerve for 2 reasons:

1.   It’s the only nerve controlling our ability to decrease stress. It’s in charge of controlling the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest state.

2.   The nerve involves so many organs (not just the gut) and their level of function. (which is why symptoms are so vast)

How do Cranial Nerves Become Compromised?

These cranial nerves become compromised for various reasons; traumas and stressful situations in our lives; physical, mental or emotional. This includes abuse, addiction, divorce, the death of loved one, surgeries, illnesses and even a high-stress lifestyle and addition to stress.

Vagus Nerve, Adrenal Fatigue and Gut Connection

The vagus nerve starts in the brain and travels to the gut. But what many don’t know is that on the way to the gut, the vagus nerve goes through the heart, the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, kidneys, ureter, spleen, lungs, female sex organs neck (pharynx, larynx, and esophagus), ears and the tongue. No other nerve in the body has such a broad and far-reaching effect as the Vagus Nerve.

So can you see that when this nerve is compromised it can cause many health issues, such as…

1)   Either feeling wired or tired, no in between

2)   Food sensitivities

3)   Anxiety and/or depression

4)   Poor digestion

5)   Poor nutrient absorption

6)   Trouble detoxing

7)   Brain fog

8)   Poor sleep

9)   Chronic inflammation

10)  Migraines or headaches

11) Heart disease

12) Poor circulation

13) Fibromyalgia

14) Autoimmune conditions

15) Blood sugar imbalances

16) Mood swings

and more…

Do you see why you want your vagus nerve functioning at its best?

If you're stressed constantly, your stress response is overstimulated, and you’re in sympathetic overdrive. This makes your adrenals pump out more cortisol, which exhausts the adrenals and create an imbalance of hormones. You need the vagus nerve functioning at it’s best - in order to balance and heal the nervous system.  

Benefits of a Healthy Vagus Nerve

·        Helps control anxiety and mood

·        Increases stomach acidity and other digestive enzyme production - low levels of these are correlated to the root cause of gut issues

·        Controls heart rate variability, heart rate and blood pressure

·        It controls blood sugar balance

·        In the liver it controls bile production and detoxification

·        Controls bile release to help break down fats

·        Promotes general function including water balance, glucose control and sodium excretion which helps control blood pressure

·        Controls voiding of urine

·        Reduces inflammation

·        Controls fertility and sexual pleasure including orgasms

·        Controls ability to taste and saliva production through salivary gland control

·        Activates tear production in the eyes

So you’re probably starting to see the connections here. And possibly wondering, what can I do to love up my vagus nerve and get it working FOR me, ASAP…

How to Stimulate the Vagus Nerve?

Here are two simple exercises to stimulate the vagus nerve.

1.   Deep and Slow Breathing

This sends a signal to our brain and the vagus nerve to lower our heart rate and blood pressure. This lessens the flight or fight response and increases the rest and digest response.

Make this a part of your daily life.

Do this upon rising every morning: Inhale for count of 5, allow the belly and rib cage to expand out slightly with your breath, hold the breath for the count of 5 and then exhale the breath for the count of 8-10. As you push the breath out completely you will notice a drawing in of the belly toward the spine and rib cage back to center. Enjoy this intended movement of the diaphragm.

2.   Singing, humming or chanting

Singing, humming, and mantra chanting all increase heart rate variability and works the muscles at the back of your throat, which helps stimulate the vagus nerve. So next time you feel like singing your heart out in the shower or car, do it, it’s great for your health and your vagus ;)

And if you’re tired of hearing these suggestions, they seem too easy and/or they just don’t work…

You’ve maybe tried them here and there (without noticing a difference). But, I’m curious have you honestly given these types of practices a go for longer than a couple days or a week? Have you been consistent?

If you want your adrenals to actually heal and your hormones to balance out (and you want them to stay that way for the rest of your life), start incorporating practices that stimulate the vagus nerve on a daily basis. I challenge you to add 5-10 minutes of slow, deep breathing or chanting to your morning routine. I believe you will see shifts almost immediately.

I’d like you to open your mind to the fact that it can be that easy. With consistently, these exercises do work. It can be that easy. We just have to break old patterns.

Here’s another way to start loving up the vagus nerve - start reacting differently to life. And this is a habit that’s hard to break, right? This is about interrupting the stress pattern you have in place and probably have had in place, for a very long time. Interrupt it, stop it in it’s track and create a different pattern or pathway in the brain.

“Stress Pattern Interrupt” Practice

Find a simple word or phrase that is calming to you and embodies what you want to create instead of stress. When you’re start to feel anxious or overwhelmed, repeat the word or phrase until you feel less resistance or you feel lighter. Or you can ask a certain type of question (question examples below). You can also think of something you are grateful for.

A few examples:

  1. SLOW

  2. CALM

  3. All is well in my world

  4. I am safe

  5. I am grounded

  6. What would it take for me to have more ease or calm in this moment?

  7. How can I experience more peace right away?

  8. I acknowledge I’m not feeling great right now, but I’m so grateful for…(my home, my children, clean water, healthy food…)

  9. I acknowledge I’m not feeling great right now, but each day I’m getting better and better.

Be the energy of the word, phrase or question. (Trust you know how to do this).

Questions, comments? Please share below in the comments and after a week of stimulating the vagus nerve report back.

To your amazing vagus nerve,

Angela (& Danielle)

Understanding Your Thyroid and How It Connects to the Adrenals

Understanding Your Thyroid and How It Connects to the Adrenals

The thyroid gets many of the blunt of our health blames, especially when it comes to stubborn weight gain. This post will shed some clarity on how this gland functions, what effects it and some surprisingly simple ways to address the root cause so you can balance it out.

Feeling "unfixable" or like a slave to your chronic condition

This has been coming up a lot for us lately. 
The idea of feeling "unfixable" or feeling "stuck" with your health. 

Many in our community are just beginning to learn about adrenal fatigue, but for many the reality is that adrenal fatigue is another "condition" on top of many-- from sneaky, hard to pinpoint viral or bacterial infections, addictions, cancer, MS and much more.

We get feedback from those suffering that "adrenal support alone-- can't FIX me" and we totally understand why you feel that way.

But if we may, we want you to know why having strong, supported adrenals is important when recovering from something bigger than "hormonal imbalance".

YOUR ADRENALS = YOUR RESILIENCE GLANDS.

When I was working my way through nutrition school we went over protocols for supporting all sorts of different conditions-- literally ALL the different conditions. The thing that blew me away all those years ago and part of the reason I am so passionate about this topic today is because the number one recommendation mentioned, protocol after protocol was --- MANAGE OR REDUCE STRESS.

Let's face it, when your body is facing something huge-- an addiction,  cancer, a stealth infection like LYME or Epstein Barr Virus) or even emotional trauma, or surgeries…-- your body is doing what it can to regulate and survive, it's actually amazing what the body does to PROTECT us.  ** insert time for a quick, big self-hug**

And if you're NOT facing something huge at this time, then think of how important the health and resilience of your body is to prevention. 

We can't deny these little glands are flippin' important, can we?
NOT ANYMORE!

Anyways, what I'm getting at is the more we can reduce the overall stress load on our body and keep our adrenal function as optimal as possible, the better equipped and energized our body will be to do its thing to help fight off or process what it's dealing with. Make sense?

We know that working on the adrenals might seem like small fish to some of you when you've got bigger fish to fry, but...we urge you to consider the following when moving forward with your recovery plan: 

Follow a holistic protocol

Often when we think of stress, we think of bills, traffic, overwhelm that comes with parenting or a job, but the truth is the stress we are talking about has the potential to come from all the main areas of our lives.

Stress is cumulative. Here are some other areas it can come from: 

  • Sleep

    • Are you sleeping at the right times?
    • Are you getting optimal sleep?
    • If you aren't sleeping well, it becomes hard to repair your tissues optimally... and many aren't sleeping well due to out-of-rhythm hormones from stress in their daily lives. 
       
  • Diet/Nutrients

    • Are you giving your body the nutrients it needs to heal and be super resilient?
    • Are you eliminating those things that stress the body and the digestive tract?
    • If the body is operating in a state of deficiency, it will be operating under a constant state of stress every day until that deficiency is corrected. 
       
  • Digestion

    • Are you releasing and detoxing properly to keep the body working optimally?
    • Are you getting optimal assimilation from the food you eat?
    • If digestion is impaired of overburdened, it has the potential to add stress the body every time you eat, often sparking a hormonal response that involves stress hormones. 
       
  • Exercise

    • Are you moving the body in a way that is honoring of what you’re going through?
    • Is your workout routine contributing to your condition or helping you get your life back?
    • Certain exercise can cause tissue damage and oxidative stress in the body, this is totally fine if you have the capacity to recover and repair from your workouts with good self-care, but if not, the wear and tear on the body can be extremely stress inducing. 
       
  • Mindset

    • Are the thoughts going through your head keeping you stressed, thinking negatively about everything your body is experiencing and extra sensitive?
    • Are you constantly finding yourself in the same toxic thought patterns?
    • The way our brain perceives what we are experiencing orchestrates a wave of hormonal response to accommodate what the brain is perceiving. Whether we are consciously or unconsciously trapped in fearful or depressive though patterns, it resonates deeply on a physical level. 

So when we’re talking about reducing the stress load on the body to heal our adrenals and have more resiliency, we need to address all these areas, not just one or two of them.

The magic that happens when you shift your thoughts, patterns and habits in each of these areas and actually STICK with them long enough for results to show up-- is pretty incredible.

So, if you've ever felt unfixable or just flat out STUCK, then it's time to ensure you're tackling this from a holistic angle..  because I promise you, miracles are happening every damn day.

If you need help implementing this, if you need a clear plan on how to move forward, or a support community to help get you through this, then click here to learn all about our Recovery Revolution and how you can be a part of it. 

Is Adrenal Fatigue Real?

hormonal imbalance

Is adrenal fatigue a real thing?

Despite the obvious fact that millions of people are suffering from the built-up toll that stress can put on the body with clear signs of hormonal issues and fatigue that just won't quit, the term "adrenal fatigue" is still considered with scrutiny by many. 

The thing is,  we get the scrutiny. In fact, "adrenal fatigue" isn't a defined medical condition and technically, doesn't actually exist.. but that's not to say the symptoms and feelings you have been should be discredited, not at all! Today we want to share our thoughts on this popular (and highly frustrating) topic. 

ABOUT THE ADRENALS

The adrenal glands are, by nature, tough and mighty little things. 
These little powerhouses are two walnut-sized glands that sit comfortably on top of the kidneys. They secrete hormones involved with all the major physiological processes in the body and are there to help our body adapt, adjust and survive the events the day may bring us. 

You know that rush of adrenaline you feel when something scares or excites you? 
Yup, that's your adrenals prepping your body to take flight or to fight if that's what the situation may entail. 

These days, more than the need to fight or run away from threats, our bodies are pumping out stress hormones as we worry about things at work, as we deal with the complexities of different relationships, family stuff, financial things and so on and so forth.  The problem is the stress we're tackling today isn't fleeting like that moment when you see a bear in the woods is. These days we're stressing all the time about different things and if we aren't mentally stressing, sometimes the stress comes from dietary things, physical things, immune conditions, digestive problems, sleep schedules or general inflammation in the body. There are many different forms of stress. 

WHAT IS ADRENAL FATIGUE?

fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue is commonly thought of as a condition when the adrenal glands get "fatigued" or "collapse" from excessive wear and tear. After enduring periods of chronically high stress demands (or short periods of extremely high stress) these glands take a physical hit and can no longer produce stress hormones at the rate they used to. We agree that excessive wear and tear can implicate these glands to an extent.. but that's not the entire problem. 

Adrenal issues stem from these two places: 
the adrenal glands and the brain. 

communication

The adrenal glands don't just produce stress hormones blindly or intuitively.
They get their instructions from signals and communication from our brain through the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis (the HPA Axis).  When the adrenal glands are making too much cortisol or not enough cortisol, the communication along the HPA Axis between the brain and the adrenals must be considered... because more than just a fatigued glandular issue, there typically is a signaling problem between the brain and the adrenals.  Signaling issues between the two have a direct effect on how the adrenals behave and how the body responds to circulating cortisol too. 

So to be clear, when we say adrenal fatigue.. we are using a popular term for this greater idea of adrenal dysregulation. 

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SOME SIGNS OF ADRENAL FATIGUE OR ASSOCIATED HORMONAL IMBALANCE: 

  • Auto-immune conditions
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Anemia (iron deficiency)
  • Weight gain in the belly area that you can't seem to lose
  • Decrease or loss in muscle mass
  • You wake up in the early hours of the morning (between 3-5am)
  • Brain fog
  • Increase of energy in the evening after dinner
  • Anxiety or depressive thoughts
  • Eyes are sensitive to the light
  • Easily startled
  • Feeling dizzy when you stand up too fast
  • Slow wound healing or slow to recover from illness
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Feeling constantly tired- a tired that is not relieved by sleep (CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME)
  • Feeling like you can't relax
  • Cravings for salt or salty foods
  • Easily irritated or intolerant to stress
  • Digestive issues and sudden new food intolerances
  • Dependence on stimulants to function (coffee, colas, energy drinks, ect.)
  • Decreased libido
  • Exaggerated menopausal symptoms
  • Irritability if a meal is missed aka "HANGRY"
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid)
  • Decreased immune system
  • Increased or exaggerated PMS symptoms
  • Fibrocystic breasts or fibroids
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Fertility issues
  • Low blood pressure

So, how do you fix the dysregulation?

When it comes to fixing the signaling issues mentioned above and nourishing up a depleted body that is suffering from exposure to chronic or excessive stress, it really begins with a self-check-in... with asking yourself where you could start respecting your body and its boundaries a little more.  It comes back to simple self-care, good food, making sleep and yourself a priority.  Sounds simple, doesn't it?

So why are so many people stuck struggling for so long?

The thing is that hormonal issues can feel really complicated.... 

there's a tonne of conflicting information in books and on the internet, 

one doctor says one thing, another says another, 

and changing the way you live can be really flippin' hard!

Slowing down and making changes like nixing the people pleasing attitudes, changing your work and lifestyle habits, making key dietary changes and setting boundaries for yourself isn't always a walk in the park... especially if you are super type A (like so many of us struggling with adrenal issues are). On top of that, just because you're wanting to stress less doesn't mean that the things that stressed you out before are going to necessarily go away--  so a whole mental shift needs to happen. The way we perceive stress and handle it needs to be tweaked, and yes my loves... it's challenging! It takes practice, it takes patience, it takes a lot of conscious effort.

We know you have it in you, though! 

Ready to break through the patterns that are keeping you stuck and to get a clear personalized plan to recovery? Click here to see if you qualify for a FREE Breakthrough Power Session with one of our Team Professionals. 

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The 5 Step System for Repairing a Leaky Gut

Good digestion is a prerequisite for good health.

As we continue living with chronic stress in our life, an abundance of toxins in our environment, poor diets, bacterial imbalance, and gastrointestinal issues are becoming more and more common. One of the most common issues we see with adrenal fatigue sufferers is intestinal permeability.

What is Leaky Gut Exactly?

leaky gut

Intestinal permeability also known as "leaky gut" is a condition when essentially, the intestines become damaged and are unable to protect foreign invaders or larger food particles from the digestive tract, from leaking into the bloodstream. The intestines are typically lined with tight junctions that carefully protect what makes it through to the rest of the body.  When damaged, these loose junctions begin to let bacteria, incompletely digested food matter or waste through to the blood, setting off an immune alarm in the body. Cortisol and histamine surges are part of this alarm.  This scenario leads to increased food sensitivities, digestive issues, auto immune conditions and a plethora of symptoms. 

Click here to learn more about the symptoms of leaky gut and why it's important to adrenal fatigue recovery

The symptoms of leaky gut are vast, and the truth is that gut health issues could very likely be a root level cause behind many of today's common health issues. 

Just like the symptoms of leaky gut, figuring out the cause can be quite complicated. 
Luckily, the body has an incredible ability to heal itself if you provide the right environment for it to do so.  

When it comes to repairing a leaky gut, there are 5 steps, that when followed correctly will support creating an optimal environment for healing to take place. 

THE 5 STEPS TO REPAIRING A LEAKY GUT

1. REMOVE

Remove anything that is creating to inflammation or negatively affects the digestive tract. 
This starts with removing problematic foods, any common or known allergens, processed foods and excessive sugar.  It also includes removing unwanted microflora like yeast (candida), parasites or unfriendly bacterial overgrowths. 

2. Replace

This stage begins with replacing problematic foods in the diet with nutrient dense, whole foods. 
It also includes restoring the naturally occurring digestive aids that may be lacking, things such as hydrochloric acid, bile acids and digestive enzymes.

3. Repair

In this phase, the focus is on restoring the mucosal lining of the G.I. tract.
Food plays a large role here, focus on eating foods that are easily digestible like smoothies, soups and cooked vegetables and quality proteins. Foods that are high in healing vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, zinc and other antioxidants, along with fatty acids like omega 3. Bone broth is a particularly gut loving food and is a wonderful addition to a restorative diet. Supplements can also be used to help repair the lining more quickly, to help protect and soothe the lining and help ensure there are no nutrient deficiencies that could be slowing down the recovery process. 

Wondering the top healing foods you can eat and where to start with supplements? We're breaking it all down in this week's freebie! Grab it below! 

4. REINOCCULATE 

In this phase beneficial bacteria are re-introduced. Ideally, this is done with a high quality probiotic supplement, but naturally occurring probiotic rich foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha can be consumed to help support this via food as well. 

The correct balance of healthy flora supports more than just digestion. 
Click here to learn how our microbiome affects the brain, behavior, mood, and more.

5. REBALANCE

The rebalance phase is one that is on going, one that will help support a healthy and happy gut long-term.
This phase largely correlates with general good health practices such as mindfulness practice, sleep, healthy exercise, good food, and finding time for fun. 

When combined and worked on consistently, these 5 steps will guide you well on your way to abundant energy, easy digestion, a flat tummy, glowy skin and so much more.  Leaky gut recovery does not need to be a lot to swallow- it comes back to changing the GI environment and creating one that allows the body to recover, repair and come back into balance. 

Knowing the steps to healing your gut is one thing, but implementing them is a WHOLE OTHER THING...So, if you want SUPPORT AND GUIDANCE implementing these steps into your life, you need to know about this training: http://bit.ly/2iRSQAT

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