We would all love to leap out of bed each morning, full of vitality. However, around 10% of us suffer from persistent tiredness. What we eat can play a large part in our natural energy levels. For many people, life is not conducive to high energy levels; poor sleep, hormonal disturbances, ‘stress of life’, lack of exercise, and poor diet takes its toll on our level of energy. Keeping energy levels stable relies on a number of factors including good sleep, adequate exercise and a healthy, balanced and wholesome diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables with management of energy highs and lows.
Eating your way to better energy
Food can be a double-edged sword; the foods we eat and enjoy can give us energy but certain foods, especially eaten late at night, can make us sluggish and tired.
Sugar and Energy
Too much sugar will have a negative effect on vitality. Sugar is linked with the hormone serotonin. When serotonin levels are balanced we should feel mellow, relaxed, optimistic and focused. However, serotonin is also linked to the addictive side of behaviour and can cause us to crave alcohol, sugar and cigarettes. Sugar sensitive people tend to have low serotonin levels leading to a lack of control over impulsive behaviours, often causing poor food choices. The bulk of our diet relies on carbohydrates which can be anything from simple white sugar through to slow release cereals so it is important how and when we eat this food group. In the clinic we often use ChromaTab, a high quality chromium supplement to help control sugar cravings. In general, carbohydrates can be grouped into five major classes: alcohols, sugars, refined food (‘white’ food), wholefood (‘brown’ food) and alive food (fresh ‘green’ food). The wholefood and alive foods release their energy slower and are the ones to choose to help vitality. Increase the following foods in the diet: brown rice, beans, oatmeal, oatcakes, green peas, broccoli and cooked spinach. To help balance the carbohydrates, eating adequate protein is vital. Good protein sources are white meats, eggs, nuts and beans.
Alcohol and Caffeine
Alcohol is a depressant drug that slows the nervous system and disturbs normal sleep patterns. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system making insomnia more likely. Alcohol and caffeine are both addictive, and the danger is that to gain the same effect, over time as you become tolerant you will need to increase consumption. To balance your energy levels it is wise to reduce them to a minimum.
Exercise, Relaxation and Sleep
Adults, in general, require around eight hours, undisturbed sleep. Too much, however, can be equally bad for fatigue levels, and more than eleven hours of sleep has been linked to excessive daytime sleepiness. In the clinic we often advise 2x Elthea, which helps to enhance alpha or relaxation waves in the brain to help support poor sleep. It allows the development of a ‘good’ sleeping pattern without the drowsy effect of sedatives. When it comes to exercise, it can become a vicious cycle. When we feel too tired to exercise, we put it off for another day. This means that when we come to do things, we become tired more easily. Researcher Tim Puetz, at the University of Georgia revealed that inactive people who regularly feel the symptoms of fatigue can increase their energy by up to 20% and decrease their fatigue by 65% with regular exercise. Sometimes a little support from vitamin B such as Energy B can give a little helpful boost.
Managing Energy Highs and Lows
Learning to listen to your body is key; if you have overdone things and feel tired, don’t just battle on regardless – rest and do something less physical. If you have had a hectic few days, plan a few more restful days to keep your body in balance. Trauma and upsets can play havoc with energy levels, with huge swings from lots of energy to feeling low and flat. If this tends to be how you manage stress, learn to know when to expect the lows. Keep a to-do list handy, and rather than rushing from task to task, simply write it down. When feeling low and ‘can’t-be-bothered, look at your list and pick something out from it that requires less energy leaving the high energy tasks for days you feel a bit more energetic. Achieving and completing a task can give a sense of well-being and should help to act as a ‘pick-me-up’. If you do suffer from uncontrollable high and low energy levels due to stress, we find the supplement Zen-time can help to balance levels.
When the body is feeling fatigued it requires a good supply of vitamins and minerals such as Iron, the B group of vitamins, Vitamin D, Folic acid and biotin. These can be supplied by eating dark green leafy vegetables, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and wholegrains. However, when we try to cram as much as we can into our days, eating healthily often takes a back seat and it really is worth considering taking a good multi vitamin and mineral complex. Omega oils have become the hot products for health over the past few years but their place in boosting emotional health and easing fatigue are now well established. High quality marine lipids help to mend damaged brain cells and over time even reverse the changes caused by poor diet which in turn will improve mood, ease fatigue and boost energy. More information at: Stress Management Information
I have been working in the area of stress management since the early 1990's providing an individualised approach to ease the effects of life stresses on the emotional and
physical health of people of all ages and backgrounds. Stress affects people in many different ways and I have found that no one approach works with all people.
Over the years I have developed my methods, drawing on many aspects of psychology, counselling and classic stress management techniques in order to offer a balanced and person-centred way forward that can be adapted to suit most people. Where appropriate, I also like to include advice on diet and lifestyle to complete the holistic approach.