#162: Sara Kinnon, ND- Adrenal Fatigue, Muscle and Strength Training

by Deanna Mutzel, DC


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About Sara Kinnon, ND

Dr. Sara Kinnon is a licensed naturopathic physician practicing at Bellevue Natural Health Clinic, in West Vancouver, BC. Dr. Kinnon received her degree in Naturopathic Medicine from North America’s most esteemed naturopathic medical school, Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia.





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Interview Show Notes

02:16 Adrenal Fatigue: Brain and adrenals are both contributors to adrenal fatigue. Adrenals produce hormones, including cortisol. Cortisol keeps you happy, gives you energy and gets you out of stressful situations. Our adrenals cannot keep up with our busy lifestyles. Recent research is showing that the over stimulation from your brain is what triggers adrenal fatigue. During medical school, Dr. Kinnon began to feel the effects of adrenal fatigue. It first manifested in sleep. Her health suffered as well. Later when she began her practice, she turned to HIIT exercise to relieve stress. Eventually, she over trained and adrenal fatigue began again with sleep issues, soreness and eventually 2 broken legs.
05:17 Over Exercise/Training: For some of us, exercise, with its endorphin release, can become an addiction of sorts. Our culture rewards the very busy lifestyle and the extremely fit. We do not reward the rest.
07:53 Adrenal Repair: When Dr. Kinnon broke her legs, she went from high speed to no speed. She built upon small activities. She did upper body movements and maintained weight lifting doing small sets, adjusting down the intensity and using longer rests. She spent time in nature and became more mindful when outside. It took quite a lot of time to shift.
11:00 Hormone Orchestra: As you move through life, stress and activity levels change. If one thing goes out of tune, you are going to notice. It is important to maintain a balance and adjust when needed. Dr. Kinnon does a full hormone panel on patients, assessing DHEA, testosterone, human growth hormone, and progesterone. For women over 35, progesterone falls quickly, possibly lending to the stress response. We need progesterone for our thyroid. Sleep disturbance, waking frequently, poor even explosive mood the week prior to a period, may be a sign of low progesterone. Assessing cortisol is not enough. DHEA plummets as well. Resistance training brings up testosterone and DHEA.
14:24 Supplementing Men’s Hormones: Men have progesterone and estrogen. These and DHEA may not plummet with adrenal fatigue, but testosterone will.
15:11 Adrenal Recovery: Adrenal dysfunction could be that you are running too high or running too low. If you have gone past too high and are now too low, you will need restorative activities: meditation, yoga, grounding (walking in bare feet), and being in nature. Adjust activity according to stage of adrenal dysfunction. Heartrate variability monitoring is part of Dr. Kinnon’s practice and her personal care.
18:43 Balancing Circadian Rhythms: As we become more and more bombarded with artificial light, avoiding blue light in the evening and getting sun in the morning is becoming increasingly important.
20:01 Creating Boundaries: When patients require/desire wine at the end of the day, she works to decrease an eliminate it. Wine is a depressant, stimulating the parasympathetic response. Take a lunch. Go outside for 15 minutes on your lunch. Create small breaks throughout the day. Turn off electronics by 6 or 7 pm. Using the time in the evening to connect with family, enhances recovery.
22:06 Adrenal Fatigue and Losing Weight: With adrenal fatigue, diet, exercise and hormones come into play. When these are brought into balance, your body will recover on its own. Perimenopausal or menopausal women are worried about their fat around their middle.
23:25 Strength Training and Chronic Cardio: A long run is not healthy for your adrenals. Instead, run hills or walk hills. Increase intensity, but lower the duration. Adjust your exercise for what stage you are at. We are focused on cardio, but as we age, maintaining muscle mass via resistance training is critical for bone health, hormone health and a number of other things including healthy body composition and healthy ageing.
26:39 Exercise and Ageing: Many of us in our 60 and 70s do well with yoga. Resistance training is beneficial and should be started gently with short sets and heavier weight. It stimulates a muscle growth response. For those who have not lifted before, use 3 to 5 repetitions using big muscle groups.
29:10 Effective Herbs for Adrenal Health: For athletes, Dr. Kinnon recommends rhodiola, ashwaganda, schisandra and ginseng. For men with low testosterone, she may recommend coleus. For perimenopausal or menopausal women, she often recommends chaste tree or vitex to boost progesterone, black cohosh or rhubarb extract, for hot flashes.
31:26 The Role of Mindset in Fitness: Mindset is critical to success. Find something that you like, that works for you and feeds you, rather than depletes you. Build upon your successes. Weight lifting provides objective feedback.
34:20 Dr. Kinnon’s Favorite Supplement, Herb or Botanical: Turmeric is great as an anti-inflammatory, joint health, and cancer prevention. She makes golden milk. For a therapeutic effect, you need to take it in supplement form to get the great volume required.
35:39 Dr. Kinnon’s Morning Routine: She gets up early and takes her dogs for a walk. She likes being up early for the solitude and quiet. Then she heads to the gym for an hour or hour and a half. She has a post-workout breakfast and heads to work. When she first gets to work, she spends a few minutes on the beach to visualize her day. At the end of the day, she takes a gentle walk on a nature trail to chill her out and stimulate the parasympathetic response. Evening routines are important as well.
40:15 Dr. Kinnon’s Elevator Pitch: Current health care model is actually disease care. This should be shifted to maintaining health, with an emphasis on diet, exercise and lifestyle. The absence of disease is not necessarily optimum health.

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