Eating Starches for Adrenal Health
It’s dark and gloomy here, and I’m in my jammies (because I’m professional like that). If you’re lucky, you are too. Let’s sit down and have a chat about one of the ‘secrets’ of my nutritional therapy practice.
One of the things I find myself repeatedly saying to people is that our energy centers need to be supported during gut healing.
But what does that mean?
So often, I hear the story that someone read a bunch of blog posts or very popular book and decided to cut starches and grains from their diet to heal a leaky gut. They are now dealing with significant – or severe – adrenal hypofunction and accompanying thyroid hypofunction.
- cold extremities
- inner trembling
- increased brain fog
- moderate to severe fatigue
are just a few of the most common symptoms of the stress to these all-important glands.
It puts massive strain on the body and can easily cause full adrenal fatigue [clinically termed hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) dysfunction]. Pardon my phrasing but “die off” my butt. Die off is such a small part of the healing process that this one irks me…a lot.
I went into full adrenal hypofunction after attempting the GAPS Diet with my daughter, and it took me a year and a half plus becoming a holistic practitioner before I recovered.
Now, I most often recommend starting over with the full GAPS Diet using the Autoimmune Paleo food list with increased starches and adding white rice. Then tweak.
Eat what makes you feel better and stay away from the foods that make you feel ill.
It’s not exactly that simple, but it’s a great place to start.
Low Carb/Low Starch
There is a small number of the population who truly does need a low-carb and low-to-no starch approach.
That has been less than 5% of people who come to me for help.
I know the number is likely higher, but it’s still a significantly small part of the population. My husband was one of them while we reversed his diabetes, but his adrenal glands and thyroid required recovery after that healing period.
Not everyone is in a place where their bodies are able to be ‘fat burners’. Mine certainly still isn’t.
Eating Starches for Adrenal Health
My research in this area isn’t worth filling a page about. There is just as much clinical evidence that starches and carbs are bad for the body’s energy centers as I can find for it being good.
We’re all different.
Our bioindividuality is what makes it so important to review all the research and then toss it out the window and pay attention to how those suggestions affect your body.
This superfood…that superfood…the other supplement. My superfood? Fried plantains. Tostones (green). Maduros (ripe). However you like to eat them or call them.
There is no other food that makes me feel comforted and nourished like a completely ripe – black – plantain fried in coconut oil in my cast iron skillet with a heavy dose of unrefined salt. You can get the easy recipe right here.
Adrenal glands love salt and fat and starches and lots of it. I do too.
How to Add Starches to Your Diet
If you don’t have access to a big chain health food store in your area, try a Spanish, South American, Indian, or Asian “ethnic” store. Many people have them tucked away and don’t even know it.
They’re a gold mine for starchy root veggies like plantains, yuca/cassava, and taro.
If you want to increase your starches to see if it improves your body temperature and energy, I suggest going for 25% percent carbs with moderate starch intake and 50-60% healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, and pastured lard and tallow.
Note: this is the percentage of your caloric daily intake NOT the percentage of food. Half of your plate at every meal should not be a glob of pure fat. Ick.
I really like cronometer.com and myfitnesspal.com for tracking macronutrient ratios (fats-proteins-carbs) and calories.
A huge, huge component of adjusting your diet is to make sure you’re getting enough calories.
Many clients come to me eating 700-1200 calories a day and wonder why they can’t heal with their recommended ‘perfect’ diet.
For someone dealing with fatigue who is of average size and not an athlete, it can take a minimum of 2000 calories per day for your body to even begin the healing process.
Eat my friends. And eat a lot.
How to Know If It’s Working
After a few weeks (or even a few days for some), your hands and feet begin to warm up again. Your resting body temperature begins to steadily climb, you start to think more clearly, many people notice less or no more aching in their joints, and the fatigue begins to disappear bit by bit.
It may only be an extra hour every couple of days at first, but that turns into a great morning a couple of times a week into a full day of relief into feeling more like your old self so you can tackle the rest of your health issues.
Best of luck and my final point of advice…
Lose the stress and stop overthinking it!
Jennifer Nervo is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Reiki Master Practitioner & teacher, and Aromatherapist. Her focus is on digestive, nervous, and immune system dysfunction and the fields of functional nutrition & psychoneuroimmunology. She works with all conditions and diseases including environmental and food allergies, autoimmune diseases, multiple chemical sensitivity, diabetes, eczema, anxiety, weight loss as a symptom of dis-ease, and gut-brain disorders like autism.
When she’s not herding her small troupe of monkeys or seeing clients, her free time is packed with researching and perfecting new wellness techniques (her not-so-secret passion). Jennifer is currently a group leader for the newest class of Nutritional Therapy Practitioners out of Ann Arbor, MI, studying for the national board exam in holistic nutrition, and running a combined distance and brick and mortar practice in metro Detroit. She’s also a homeschooling suburbanite, foodie, and mama to two littles and a schnoodle.