(Part 2 of 4)
We decided to sit down and have a chat with our practice owner and MD, Dr. Philip Oubre, and functional nutritionist, Aubree Steen.
We’re diving into another 4 part series. We’re diving into part 2 here, following with:
1. What are the adrenal glands/their function? Why are they important?
2. Stress and its effects on the adrenal glands (this video)
3. How stress hormones affect every other function in the body (i.e. autoimmunity, chronic illness, hormones, energy – weight, mood)
4. Supplementation/lifestyle/nutrition support for adrenals
Feel free to watch the video, or read our transcript below.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (00:00):
Hey guys, in this next video, we’re going to be talking about how stressors affect the adrenal glands. So we’re in this four part series. This is the second video about the adrenal glands. We do a lot of talking about the adrenal glands, are extremely important and frequently they are missed by functional medicine providers definitely missed by conventional medicine doctors. It was one of the first things I got started doing when I was a budding functional medicine doctor, and it made tremendous differences in my patients. And it was one of the threads of pulling on the sweater. Like, “Gosh, this makes a lot more difference than giving people prescriptions.” So it’s a key part of everyone’s treatment, especially if you’re an American and even people not in America, living in chronic stress.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (00:39):
So today, this video, we’re going to be talking about what affects those adrenal glands. In the first video, we talked a lot about perception of stress and stress in general. So yes, stress and perception of stress as the number one contributor to the adrenal glands. We’ve already beat that horse in the first video. So we’re just going to go straight into our second one, which is food and how food affects the adrenal glands. Now, in this video, we’re going to be talking about what foods are negatively affecting the adrenal glands and in video for we’re going to be talking about what foods benefit the adrenal glands. All right, So Aubree, take it away and see how long you can talk you about food and the adrenal glands.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (01:14):
I said, I was going to draw it out. And I was like, “I can draw a big picture.”
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (01:17):
Aubree Steen, FNTP (01:18):
So I commonly talk to patients about how their food and diet affects their adrenals. Obviously I’m a nutritionist. Right? But I think people already come being in a high chronic state, 90% of our patients have chronic adrenal stress, or fatigue, or whatever it may be. Right? But then-
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (01:34):
It should be 100%.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (01:35):
Yeah. Sorry 100%. Right. There’s only a few people who are like [crosstalk 00:01:40].
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (01:39):
I guess children. Maybe the under 12 year olds.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (01:42):
Yeah, or the few people who are like, “I feel good. We can do more.” [crosstalk 00:01:45] But even then-
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (01:46):
We don’t believe them.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (01:48):
We don’t believe them. Right? So one thing that happens is that they come in there and I always make everyone check their food. Because you can meet in the cleanest, healthiest diet but macronutrient balancing is something that I think people don’t take into consideration with chronic stress. And what people have been commonly told over and over and over again, whether it’s by a personal trainer or someone that they know or an influencer. Say influencer, it makes me laugh. People who lack credibility, who don’t have full awareness of actual nutrition.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (02:17):
Aubree Steen, FNTP (02:19):
Right? To be honest, unless you’re an actual functioning nutritionist or in a medical practice, it’s-
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (02:24):
We’re opinionated. Take it or leave it.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (02:26):
That’s fine. Right? Been there though. Right? We’ve always been that know at all before we actually wanted something.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (02:30):
And now we are actual know it alls.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (02:30):
Because we [inaudible 00:02:36]. Right?
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (02:36):
We’re validated know it alls.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (02:37):
T the whole point is that you’ll hear like, “Oh yeah. Before you bulk you need to have tons of carbs, and bulk up on rice, and do this before you exercise. And you need to have A, B and C macros. Mostly high protein, high carb, low fat. If you want to cut weight.” Now, I think we’ve all proven that the low fat, or no fat diet is a huge misconception.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (02:56):
Just stop, just stop.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (02:56):
That’s a curse. I was like, “Cancel keys.”
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (02:59):
Aubree Steen, FNTP (03:00):
It’s terrible. Right? So that’s been proven wrong. It’s all about one court case I’ve studied. So it’s just one angry man. So anyways, they basically come to me thinking that they’re doing everything right. And then you look and their macronutrient balancing, they’re sugar burners or their carbohydrate burners. Which means that the dominant aspect of their diet is sugar or carbohydrates.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (03:21):
One of my sayings is, hold that thought.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (03:24):
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (03:24):
Is that, if you are not actively avoiding carbs you’re eating too much.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (03:27):
You are. And until you track it, you don’t know. Right? And when I talk about carbohydrates I’m not talking about tons of leafy green vegetables. They’ve proven you can have two pounds of leafy green vegetables and not even get knocked out ketosis.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (03:39):
But a great bowel movement.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (03:40):
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (03:46):
So yes. We don’t demonize all carbs.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (03:48):
No we don’t.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (03:48):
But, if not tracking them and watching it. You are eating them eating too much.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (03:53):
Right. And even if you are Paleo on the go and you’re getting all in firecrackers, and even like sweet potato chips, and like nice apples and healthy things. If you’re eating too many carbohydrates, there’s this negative cascade of what’s happening on your body. Right?
Aubree Steen, FNTP (04:08):
So when you’re eating too many carbohydrates, what’s happening is that your body’s utilizing this excess energy. It goes, “Oh, I don’t need to utilize my stores. You’re handing me the carbohydrates. You’re handing you the immediate sugar for my energy.” The bad part about that though, is that every time you’re relying on exogenous carbohydrates for energy, you are dependent on that. And it sounds like that was the same thing, but it’s not. Every time you eat carbohydrates and you’re a sugar burner, you’re dependent on the energy until you can get another source. Right?
Aubree Steen, FNTP (04:37):
So that’s being where you have to eat frequently every two hours, or you’re constantly hungry, you’re creating sugar or salt or things like that. The bad part about that is, is that your body perceives that as a stressor. It goes, “I don’t have the energy yet. I need something right now to fuel my body.” And eventually when you shift into fat burning mode, which you don’t have to keto for that, you literally can just access that through burning through sugar stores. That you have a consistent, clean energy. So a lot of people too will come to me and they’re like, “Yeah, in the morning I have my oatmeal and my apples on there.” And they’re pretty clean, right? They’re eating gluten free. They’re eating dairy free. And I look, and it’s 90% carbohydrates for the morning. And what that does is that, okay, I’m going to pretend that I’m drawing this out.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (05:19):
You basically, when you’re having your coffee by itself, high-carbohydrate breakfast, you’re skyrocketing your insulin and your glucose and your cortisol. And so it goes really, really high and the body panics and then goes, “Oh my God, we need to put the sugar in the cell because I’m panicking.” So that’s where insulin rises because insulin is the key to get that sugar in the cell.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (05:39):
But what happens is what comes up must fall. Right? So you have all of these hormones helping out, trying to get the sugar into the cell. And then you crash. And when you crash, below this… You’re supposed to have this nice kind of even curve when you eat. When you do this and you crash at the bottom, then your adrenals, at this point, that’s when your body goes into fight or flight. And it goes, “Oh my God, we need to go.” And it pumps out adrenaline. Right? And it pumps out epinephrine. And it goes, “Okay, time to raise it back up because we’ve plummeted.”
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (06:08):
So not only did you eat too much sugar, but now cortisol is going to trigger your liver to make more sugar. And I’d much rather eat sugar than my liver make it because it tastes much better when you eat it then when your liver makes it.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (06:19):
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (06:19):
Aubree Steen, FNTP (06:19):
So then now all your hormones are going in there and they’re trying to bounce it back up, back up. And to be honest with you, you’re stuck in this pattern almost all day. And that’s when you get the afternoon crash and things like that.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (06:30):
Then what happens is that when you’re constantly eating, even if it’s not just one high carbohydrate meal, even if you’re eating consecutively high-carbohydrate, which is lower fat and protein. What’s going to happen is you’re going to get a small form that every day. And then when you do that too, you’re also lacking fatty acids, which are essential. Cholesterol is needed to make sex hormones, adrenal hormones, every single hormone in the body. So high carbohydrate, low fat causes a lot of stress. You don’t have quality fats to make your hormones, and you’re putting your body in a state of fight or flight.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (07:00):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And anytime we talk about taking something away from people, we always reference in what are we putting back in, right? Because you can’t just deprive people and think they’re going to be fine with that. There’s only so much we can do. So if you’re taking carbs out of a meal, breakfast you’re adding fats and proteins, and then you can’t be scared of fat. So we’ve been taught, fat’s dangerous. Fat is not dangerous. Fat does not make you fat, but it makes you skinny, carbs make you fat.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (07:23):
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (07:25):
The other thing I going to comment on as far as what carbs do to the adrenal glands, it’s totally a feed forward cycle if you want to talk further into gut health. Because as you leave the cars, of course, carbs feed yeast and fungus candida in the bowels, and then cortisol is released. they’ve proven that cortisol itself within two hours of a cortisol, spike, or cortisol release that he used to switch this to a budding phase and that budding phase is an aggressive phase. It’s an inflammatory phase to the human body, and it’s a growing phase. They’re budding, they’re generating more yeast.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (07:55):
And then the yeast and fungus, candida, they have learned to push her own triggers buttons so that we crave more carbs and sugars. So not only is the cortisol, making you to crave carbs and sugars, but not least is making you crave carbs and sugars, and that’s upsetting the balance even further. And that’s how we end up being Lucky Charm eaters and snack eaters all day long. And feeling like, “Gosh, I could never be healthy because I crave these foods too much.” The wild part about my own transition into functional medicine and how I eat now is if you rewind me eight years ago, I could not have imagined me eating this way. I would have never thought it was possible. But as you get your gut unhealthier, as you balance your hormones, they actually start benefiting you.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (08:35):
It’s the hardest to get well, but once you’re well, it begets more and more wellness. So I’m saying, that’s to encourage anyone out there, don’t give up. You’re in the hardest part if you’re making these transitions. So it literally don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start with one thing, don’t take your carbohydrates at 70%. And so we use chronometer to track. Don’t take your card from 70% and say, “Oh, all carbs are bad.” And take it down to 10%. You’re going to crash. That’s not going to last.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (09:00):
So that’s why Aubree said at the beginning where you track first, just find out what you’re eating. Then once you have what you’re eating. So it gives you a chronometer gives you a pie chart, what your percentages are. Then so look at that percentage and say, “Wow, 70% carbs, this next week, I’m going to aim for 60% carbs, and then 50% carbs.” But notice there’s two ways to affect your percentage. One, you can cut something out or two, you can add more of something else. And truth is, if you add fat and protein to a meal, you typically can’t get as many carbs because you’re full. So make sure you’re not just calorie depriving yourself, you’re swapping carbs for proteins and fats.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (09:39):
Right? And that’s always the pairing. Right? So if you eat an Apple by itself, you’re going to have that immediate high-glycemic reaction to it. But if you add not butter, it actually slows down the absorption into your bloodstream. So you’re going to have an easier time doing it. So I’ll tell patients too, I’m like, “Yeah, you’re at 70%, 60% next week.” Because if you go right away, you’re going to crash. You’re literally going to have withdrawal. And that’s terrible, sugar withdrawal. Even if it’s natural sugar, you’re still going to have this immediate [inaudible 00:10:05] . But to be honest with you, you’re most likely not going to feel that while transitioning, because your body wants you to adapt.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (10:11):
But once you’ve adapted, you’re more clear, you have better energy. Things like that. One thing I do want to say is that, especially if you have adrenal fatigue or if you’re a woman and it’s just statistically proven keto is not going to be good for you. And if you’re in adrenal fatigue. And that’s my personal opinion, because you do need some carbohydrates to fuel your body. Right? You can’t just go from all of these to none. So I just want you guys to keep that in mind too. You may not be able to actively access your fat stores, or you may need just a little extra carbohydrates to push you through adrenal fatigue or adrenal stressors. But you can still be in fat burning mode at 25% carbohydrates, 20% carbohydrates. Especially if you’re eating all complex. Right? If you’re eating a lot of leafy greens, a lot of broccoli, asparagus, even sweet potato, kind of sprinkling in there. You’ll still shift to a fat burning mode.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (11:02):
I agree. So we’ll wrap up this video with three tips. Number one is track your food, track your food before you make any changes. Number two is start lowering your carbohydrates all day to a percentage of 20 to 50?
Aubree Steen, FNTP (11:17):
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (11:17):
30, give them a range.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (11:19):
So 20 to 30.
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (11:20):
Aubree Steen, FNTP (11:22):
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (11:22):
Aubree Steen, FNTP (11:22):
Dr. Philip Oubre, MD (11:24):
Okay. 20-40 percentage of total calories. But the third point to that is what Aubree just said was you don’t want any meal by itself to have a messed up percentage. So if you eat fruit all day long and then only ate bacon for dinner, you would technically have a macro balance. Right? That’s not what we’re going for. Each meal needs to be macro balanced in order to ultimately end the day at around that 20 to 40% carbohydrates. There’s much more we can talk about with what affects the adrenal glands, but that’s enough for this video. Like our channel subscribe, follow us, and we’ll see you next time.
Aubree Steen, FNTP (11:59):