Tagged "adrenal fatigue"

Is Coffee Bad for You?

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Whether we need a little energy jolt or the sense of comfort from a warm beverage, many of us are heavily reliant upon a morning cup of Joe.  According to the Huffington Post, the US is the largest consumer of coffee in the world and we weigh in at 400 million cups consumed every single day.  But is it good for us?  If you've perused the blog, you might have seen a post or two on coffee.  However, there's still quite a bit of confusion out there as to whether or not coffee is an antioxidant powerhouse perfect as a pre-workout bevie, or if it's the evil, adrenal-zapping drudge others are making it out to be.

Here we're analyzing and demystifying for you to make your own decisions whether to sip or swap this popular drink.  


Lowers your risk of type two diabetes:  Thanks to it's blood sugar-lowering properties, coffee consistently shows a beneficial relationship with blood sugar control. 

Supports brain health: There are over 94 studies indicating that coffee has been linked to positive improvements in neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease.  Additionally, coffee has also been proven to support greater cognition, learning and memory found several studies, one most notably from 2013.  Additionally, it's been hypothesized that the antioxidant-rich nature of coffee could be beneficial in the reduction of risk for Alzheimer's disease.  

Supports exercise performance: Another limited study found that when coffee was combined with decaffeinated coffee it could improve performance of resistance exercises as well as rate or perceived exhaustion.  The group was limited in nature and it's unclear whether this holds true over time.  

Less delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS):  If you've been going hard at  the gym, coffee might just prevent you from post-leg day pain.  A recent study found that moderate coffee consumption one hour prior to exercise greatly reduced DOMS on 2-3 days post-exercise.  

Could improve test scores: A study of a group of young adults found that drinking caffeine in the morning did support better memory. However, that effect diminished throughout the day and afternoon consumption did not have the same result.  


Linked to cancer: Almost 400 studies have demonstrated links between coffee consumption and cancer in almost every tissue type throughout the body.  However, causation or correlation is unknown.  

Reduces length and quality of sleep:  One study found that consuming coffee just 6 hours before bed severely diminished the length and depth of sleep.  So you might want to rethink that 4pm cup of Joe.   

Can tax your adrenals: A study of women who drink coffee regularly found that they needed more caffeine over time in order to achieve the same adrenaline boost, which can lead to adrenal fatigue and even burnout. Our adrenals are super important to a balanced system, as they are the masters of all hormones. They regulate our body's stress response -- known as our fight or flight response -- and they work to secrete some of our most important hormones such as pregnenolone, adrenaline, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol. When our bodies are in a constant state of stress (as simulated from constant coffee drinking), we tax our adrenals and it can cause a hormonal ricochet effect. 

Can be full of mold: There is very little control and insight into coffee bean processing and bean sourcing which can lead to contamination with mycotoxins.  Mycotoxins are hazardous compounds produced by the molds that grow on our beloved beans.  And it's said compounds that can be making you feel sick, foggy brained, flu-like etc.  The opposite of why you're drinking it, right? In fact, one study found that 91.7% of green coffee beans contained mold. 


As you can see, there is research to both support and discourage you from drinking your morning coffee. If you're fully in the coffee camp, quantity and quality is important -- prioritize drinking organic coffee beans and limit your intake to one cup per day, ideally before noon.

With all that said, if you're looking to cut out your java habit, here are some tips: 

  • Start slow:  If you're used 3+ cups a day, start by tapering your intake. Initially, you might want to reduce to two cups, then one and eventually none.  While you're tapering back, swap coffee for another slightly stimulating beverage such as green tea to reduce your caffeine withdrawal headaches.
  • Get enough rest: A good nights sleep as well as daily meditation can contribute to greater energy.  Our bodies weren't designed for prolonged exertion—they were designed for a pattern of rest and work.  Ensuring you get enough rest is great way to avoid grogginess and the resultant need for caffeine as a stimulating boost.
  • Support your body with vitamins and herbs:  If getting enough rest still leaves you feeling short on energy, you might need an herbal boost.  Vitamin B and D deficiencies as well as adrenal fatigue could be a contributing factor.  At your next doctors appointment ask your doctor to do a full workup to see where you might need additional nutritional support.  Additionally, working in adaptogens like ashwagandha and cordyceps will support your adrenals and energy.  
  • Start your day with another warm beverage: Oftentimes we reach for coffee just because we want something warm and comforting in the morning.  I recommend swapping your daily coffee for warm water and lemon or golden milk.  
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What's The Deal with Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue?

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Each week women pour into my office tired but wired; stressed out and reporting symptoms such as hair loss, sensitivity to cold and difficulty losing weight. Doctors used to consider these classic hypothyroid symptoms, but only now practitioners examining the role of our adrenals in this complicated health conundrum.

The adrenals are the masters of all hormones. They regulate our body's stress response, also known as our fight or flight response. They work to secrete some of our most important hormones such as pregnenolone, adrenaline, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol. When our bodies are in a constant state of stress, we tax our adrenals and it can cause a hormonal ricochet effect. And low adrenal function (due to ongoing taxation) can cause a diminished thyroid function to become much worse.

According to my dear friend and doctor of Chinese medicine, Dr. Sarah Emily Sajdak, hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue are often caused by  “Spleen Qi Deficiency.” In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Spleen is in charge of receiving food and fluids we ingest, and transforming them into useful nutrients needed to fuel our body. When the Spleen underperforms, you might experience fatigue, low appetite, and generally feel “slow.” Untransformed fluids will build up, causing weight gain, puffiness, bloating and/or constipation.  

So what can we do about it?

Remove stimulants:

  • 86 the caffeine as it’s likely part of the reason your adrenals are fatigued to begin with.  Caffeine stimulates the brain and each sip of coffee sends a message to your pituitary glands signaling your adrenals to produce cortisol and adrenaline.  As a result, on-going consumption of coffee causes our bodies to be in constant fight or flight mode.  No thanks!


  • Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen and is a strong choice when it comes to adrenal support as it works to lower cortisol, the stress hormone. Holy basil and licorice roots are two other adaptogens know to provide powerful adrenal support.
  • Get your B vitamins on: Low levels of B vitamins, especially B12, are linked with adrenal stress. (FYI, low levels of B vitamins are found commonly in women and also in vegetarians.
  • Magnesium has also been reported to be a strong support when it comes to healthy adrenals. Plus, it can also lessen symptom of PMS and support sleep.

Manage your stress:

  • Being under constant stress can make adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues go from bad to worse. Here at BHH we’re big proponents of meditation and breath work to manage stress. Getting yourself into a daily practice can really go a long way. See some of our exercises here.

Eat sea vegetables:  

  • For my hypothyroid patients, I commonly recommend a regimen that includes iodine-rich foods such as sea vegetables.  Kelp, arame, hiziki, kombu and wakame are all iodine-rich options that can be worked into salads, buddha bowls or as great sides.  They contain anywhere from 10-2000% the recommended daily value of iodine so they’re perfect foods for thyroid support.  

Avoid raw cruciferous vegetables:

  • Hypothyroid sufferers should be wary of cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, kale and broccoli.  These foods, though very healthy for some, contain goitrogens which can prevent the absorption of iodine—a much needed mineral for healthy thyroid function.

Try acupuncture:

  • Using acupuncture and Chinese herbs, I will usually boost the Spleen’s energy so it can better perform its function of transforming nutrients into energy,” says Sarah. “This can be roughly translated as boosting and strengthening the digestive system and overall metabolism.” Sounds good to us!

Check in with your doctor:

  • Thyroid imbalances, especially hyperthyroidism, can be extremely dangerous.  If you suspect you may have thyroid impairment, schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable endocrinologist in your area.  They will likely test your TSH, T3, T4 and reverse T3 to get the full picture of how your thyroid is functioning.  


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