My patient Carly was a 28-year-old woman who loved her job as a junior copywriter in a public relations firm. She had been putting in many late nights at work, averaging only four to six hours of sleep each night, working straight through lunch, and relying on pasta or cereal for dinner.
Carly was exhilarated by the challenge of this assignment and considered the extra effort well worth it, especially when she got a coveted promotion and a much-needed raise. Yet in the course of her marathon session, Carly had exposed her body to a number of synergy disruptors, minor but significant challenges to her system that included missed sleep, irregular meals, and a carb-heavy diet without sufficient protein.
If Carly had undergone just a single week of synergy disruptors, her otherwise healthy body would have quickly recovered, and I would never have seen her as a patient. In fact, like many of my patients, Carly frequently skipped meals, ate an imbalanced ratio of carbs and protein, and skimped on sleep. Over time, these synergy disruptors took their toll, and so when Carly came to my office, she reported a whole host of symptoms: acne, PMS, some unusually intense menstrual cramps, fatigue, a lack of sexual energy, recurrent urinary tract infections, constipation, and an extra 10 pounds that she just couldn’t seem to shed.
I am struck by how many people—both patients and colleagues—underestimate the potentially serious consequences of these seemingly minor synergy disruptors. Not giving our bodies the sleep and nutrition that they need can stress our adrenals, unbalance our carbohydrate metabolism, and set us up for an immune/digestive condition known as leaky gut, in which partially digested food leaks through intestinal walls.
As a result, we put ourselves at risk for adrenal dysfunction, blood sugar imbalance, and inflammation, an overreaction of the immune system that has been associated with many health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
I define as a synergy disruptor anything that interferes with the body’s complex system of synergies and causes some portion of the body to compensate.
Typical synergy disruptors include:
- Insufficient or poor-quality sleep.
- Missed meals, too-large meals, or meals with the wrong balance between protein and carbohydrates (As a general rule, your plate should be made up roughly of 40-45 percent carbs, 40-45 percent protein, and 10-20 percent healthy fats).
- Foods that we don’t tolerate well. Here’s how to find out which foods are causing you issues.
- Excessive caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
- Exposure to toxins, such as pesticides, pollutants, heavy metals, and exogenous hormones.
All of these synergy disruptors stress our adrenals and alter our cortisol levels either directly or indirectly, by causing leaky gut and/or unbalancing our carbohydrate metabolism. When we discount their importance, we miss a crucial aspect of stress—and we miss a crucial opportunity to support our bodies.
Synergy disruptors can do damage both by themselves and through magnifying other life stressors. Understanding how they work, how we can avoid them, and how we can reverse their effects is a significant aspect of optimizing our health.
Minimize Synergy Disruptors by Feeding Yourself!
5 Snacks to Keep You Going While On the Go:
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Small cooler for things like rolled turkey slices or dinner leftovers
- Protein shake powder either in cup or bag to be mixed with cold water and shaken