by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath Let’s get right into it today. We have seen some book releases lately on how to eat to balance your hormones and I would like to you to take this information with “a grain of salt” as the saying goes. Don’t get me wrong, the food you eat does play a role in hormone imbalance but based on my years of practice and the thousands of adrenal test kits that I have reviewed, nutrition alone will not balance the hormones for most health challenged individuals. Here is why. As mentioned, I have reviewed thousands of adrenal test kits over the years and I have only seen a handful of these come back showing normal, healthy functioning adrenals. In fairness, here at Depke Wellness, we work with people with health issues, but this tells us that if you have a health issue, there is less than 1% chance that you actually have healthy adrenal function. Yes, you read it correctly, less than 1%! Now I do not know about you, but those do not sound like good odds. Let’s take this one step further. Out of the significant percentage of health challenged individuals that we see with adrenal fatigue, most are actually in what is referred to as stage II or stage III. We rarely have clients come into your clinic with stage I adrenal insufficiency, but this makes sense. In stage I people still have energy so they do not typically seek out attention. This is because those in stage I are fueled by stimulated energy of elevated cortisol, which would be comparable to drinking coffee or eating sugar all day for energy. So what does this have to do with your nutritional choices balancing your adrenals or not? Let’s get right there. If you are in stage II or stage III adrenal fatigue, your HPA axis or hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal axis is burnt out and at this point, your body truly needs more than just a shift in nutrition to find its balance. Yes, nutrition plays a role (I’ll get into this in a bit) but this is not going to reset your HPA axis and it is not going to shift your adrenals and hormones into balance. Just being real here. In case you are wondering why this HPA axis is so important, the job of this axis is to bring your body into a deep state of relaxation after a stressful event, time frame or situation in your life. And heck, who doesn’t have stress these days?! You do, I do and everyone else we know does. The key though is in this HPA axis. When this is healthy your body will functionally move from a stress response to balance over and over again, but when this HPA axis burns out, you’ll have a much different relationship with stress. Instead of stress/balance, stress/balance, stress/balance your body will simply live in accumulated stress. It simply piles on top of itself. Even if you do something to “de-stress” such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, prayer, exercise or any other focus on this level, you are still not finding that deeper relaxation without the HPA axis and this is the key to deep healing. I’ll even share that when your HPA axis is burnt out, you often lose your coping mechanism. This is obvious when the stress you used to handle in the past is now too much for you. If you are curious about your current state of adrenal function, we always offer a free assessment for your awareness. So where does nutrition fit in with adrenal and hormone balance? First off, if you are one of the lucky ones in stage I adrenal fatigue, you can usually balance this by addressing your adrenal triggers and your fundamentals of health, one of which is the food you eat. The main triggers for adrenal fatigue are the SAD or standard American diet, food sensitivity, chronic stress, chronic inflammation, toxicity and/or chronic inflammation. So you can see here that nutrition is tied into two of the primary triggers for you. So is there a “one size fits all” diet for those with adrenal or hormone imbalance? This is simple. No! There are a couple of challenges with any one size fits all meal plan. Number one, we are all bio-chemically individuals. We should not all be vegans or vegetarians, just as we should not all e on the Atkin’s diet. What is essential is that we address our nutritional needs based on our own specific needs. If you want to learn more about nutritional individuality or as I call it, Nutritional ID, visit this link. The other area nutritionally is tied directly into food sensitivity. Understand that is you are consuming a food that your body is sensitive to, this is leading to inflammation in your gut and longer term, whole body systemic inflammation. Remembering that inflammation is one of the major triggers leading to adrenal and hormone imbalance. Now if you are one of the people that feel they do not have any food sensitivity, I’ll provide you one key point that may change your thought on this. Approximately 86% of the people that have food sensitivity are actually asymptomatic. In other words, you can eat the food that you are sensitive to, and feel zero symptoms. The problem here is that this is still creating inflammation, a weakened immune system, adrenal/hormone imbalance and leading to chronic health challenges. An issue? Absolutely! Based on years of practice with thousands of clients, I can confidently say that gluten is the obvious mother of all food sensitivity, especially in Canada and the United States. I say this specifically because we are the two countries that are regularly consuming deamitized and hybridized forms of wheat, which has been shown to increase the likelihood of gluten sensitivity. After this I would consider gluten associated cross reactive food sensitivity. This basically ties into your immune system recognizing foods that are similar in protein structure as gluten and attacking them in the same way your body would with a gluten sensitivity. There are approximately 24 known cross reactive foods. Beyond this is a generalized food sensitivity, recognizing that due to poor adrenal function, immune dysregulation and a poor gut/brain connection, you can easily develop sensitivities to almost any other food. Even foods that you would otherwise think of as very healthy for you. This is the reason why I regularly use an ImmunoLabs Bloodprint154 and a Cyrex Labs Gluten Associated Cross Reactive Sensitivity testing with my clients. We’ll address food sensitivity more comprehensively later in this month. So this is the reason why there is no “one size fits all” meal plan for adrenal fatigue or hormone imbalance. Remember, we are all bio-chemically different and the likelihood of specific food sensitivities for each of us is very real. We all have to look at ourselves for what we truly are, INDIVIDUALS. It is especially important to recognize that if you are in a deeper stage of adrenal fatigue or hormone imbalance, food itself is not the complete answer for you. If you are not aware of your current state of adrenal balance, here is a simple adrenal stress profile assessment that you can take at no cost to you. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post below and we will address this personally.