How This Naturopathic Doctor Overcame Burnout With Micronutrients
At mbg, we're familiar with how burnout can have physical effects on our bodies. From symptoms like extreme exhaustion to serious conditions like irregular heartbeat, burnout can be debilitating. It especially was for naturopathic doctor and New York Times bestselling author Kellyann Petrucci, M.S., N.D., who became so depleted that she fainted while on an airplane.
"The next thing I knew, I was in the back of the plane on the floor with a bunch of airline assistance putting ice around my neck, while I was going in and out of consciousness," she tells me on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast.
It was in this scary moment that Petrucci decided she would take the time to alleviate and assess her burnout. She realized a multitude of ways she was depleting her energy—overworking herself with too many projects and surrounding herself with people who leaked her energy. But one especially interesting component she mentions is through diet—specifically a lack of micronutrients.
Here's how adding micronutrients to her diet cleansed Petrucci's body and helped replenish her energy. Consider it the modern version of a detox, if you will.
The antioxidants "unclogged" her body.
"You want to think about your body flowing like a river. You don't want it clogged up like a swamp," Petrucci says. When your body is "clogged," she says, you might experience brain fog, bloating, and, of course, burnout.
That's where micronutrients come in, as they provide those antioxidants that we might be missing in our diets. Although she wasn't gorging on fast food and processed sweets, she was still missing those necessary antioxidants. When she consciously added more micronutrients to her plate, she felt way more energized.
They helped heal her gut.
We know we don't have to remind you about the gut-brain connection, but according to Petrucci, this connection is paramount for relieving burnout, as micronutrients create the very foundation for gut health. The micronutrients "are like aloe vera on a sunburn—they soothe, heal, and seal the gut," Petrucci explains.
"Micronutrients will heal the gut, reduce head-to-toe inflammation, and can help you become a natural fat burner. You will literally feel like you've been plugged back in," she says.
Petrucci's favorite micronutrient-rich foods.
In terms of Petrucci's favorite micronutrients, first on her list is bone broth: "Bone broth gives you a quick hit," she says. Meaning, if you're feeling especially depleted, bone broth can perk you up quickly. She notes how the collagen in bone broth has helped replenish many of her patients' energy levels.
She also lists prebiotic foods, such as onions, which give our body that good "soil" for our microbes to land on, as she puts it. Every 21 days, our intestinal cells regenerate, says Petrucci. When this process happens, we want to ensure a good base for those microbes to "land," so to speak, which is where prebiotic foods come in.
Finally, Petrucci loves her berries. The micronutrients in berries specifically fight against oxidative stress: "It's all about oxidative stress, this ability to annihilate free radicals," she says. That's why they're so beneficial for skin health as well, as Petrucci mentions how berries can naturally protect against sunburn.
Burnout can affect our mental and physical health, and micronutrients work to nourish both systems. Take it from Petrucci, who explains how every channel in our body communicates simultaneously: "You have biofeedback mechanisms and energetic pathways running through your body, and they all have to communicate like an orchestra." Adding micronutrients is one way we can help foster that communication—as if we needed another reason to stock up on bone broth.
Jason Wachob is the Founder and Co-CEO of mindbodygreen and the author of Wellth. He has been featured in the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Vogue, and has a B.A. in history from Columbia University, where he played varsity basketball for four years.