Struggling to find enough energy to see you through the day? Here are some great natural energy solutions to boost your vitality
We all feel tired from time to time, but if you’re suffering from a constant energy crisis, waking up groggy in the mornings then it’s time to take action. Bouts of low energy are often due to a poor diet, stress, over-training and lack of quality sleep. If you find you are constantly running out of steam then take a look at your diet, incorporate some top energy foods and nutrients to give your body the fuel it needs.
For optimum energy its important to eat a nutrient rich diet. This means eliminating all refined and processed foods from your diet which result in erratic blood sugar levels and drain your body of nutrients. For many people too much focus on carbs in our diet plays havoc with our blood sugar. It’s more important to make sure your diet is rich in high quality protein and slow releasing carbohydrates such as vegetables. Similarly avoid relying on stimulants such as energy drinks, coffee and tea to perk you up. Stimulants such as caffeine can overwork our adrenal glands, disrupting blood sugar levels and exacerbating insomnia or stress.
Dehydration can also lead to fatigue – both mentally and physically. So make sure you keep drinking water through the day. Coconut water is rich in electrolytes which can rapidly hydrate and refresh the body.
While ideally nutrients should come from our diet, it can be difficult to get what you need from food alone. This is where energy boosting supplements can help. Vitamins, minerals, herbs and other superfoods can enhance your energy by optimizing many of the biochemical reactions involved in energy production. Here are some key energy nutrients our bodies need.
Vitamins and Minerals
First start with ensuring your body is getting sufficient vitamins and minerals. The B complex vitamins are well known energy enhancers and support the nervous and immune systems. Vitamin B12 is crucial to boosting energy. One of its key functions is in helping to prevent anaemia, which can decrease the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain. Another B vitamin, folic acid, works alongside vitamin B12 especially in the synthesization of DNA.
Upping your intake of Vitamin C can also help poor energy levels. Vitamin C promotes a healthy immune system and supports the adrenals which controls the production of stress hormones in the body. During times of stress our bodies will rapidly use certain key nutrients including vitamin C, magnesium and B5.
Getting sufficient iron is important for maintaining all day energy. Women in particular may find their energy levels flagging around the time of their period. Red blood cells need iron to circulate oxygen through your body. Even a slight iron deficiency can result in fatigue, lack of concentration and susceptibility to infections.
Certain other minerals are crucial for optimal energy. Zinc is involved in many chemical processes in the body including cell growth, production of hormones and supporting the immune system. Another important mineral chromium is part of the glucose tolerance factor which enables your body to use glucose effectively and can stabilise blood sugar levels, an imbalance in which can lead to fatigue.
No-one can afford to overlook the benefits of making sure they have sufficient magnesium to boost performance. Magnesium is an essential electrolyte involved in more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body including energy production. Magnesium is lost through sweat and rapidly depleted during exercise and times of stress. Low levels can lead to muscle fatigue, weakness, cramps and irregular heartbeat. As well as eating plenty of magnesium rich foods e.g. leafy vegetables, wholegrain, nuts and seeds if you exercise a lot you may also benefit from taking a supplement.
The Wonder Herbs
Don’t underestimate the wonder of herbs. There are some amazing super herbs which increase energy, endurance, stamina, as well as adaptation to stress.
One of the most popular for brain function is ginkgo biloba. The medicinal form of this herb is extracted from the fan shaped leaves of the ancient ginkgo biloba tree, a species which has survived in China for more than 200 million years. Ginkgo helps increase blood flow and oxygen to your brain, circulatory system, and other parts of your body. It may also help people think clearer and concentrate better. It is an excellent antioxidant protecting the body from damaging compounds known as free radicals and helping the body respond to stress.
Maca is one of my favourites for supporting the body during times of stress. A radish like root, maca is a popular staple food in South America and regarded as an all-round energy tonic. Known for its adaptogenic properties maca has the ability to help the body adjust to stress, build up resistance to disease and support immunity. It is popular as a stress tonic and energy food for combating fatigue. With a delicious sweet butterscotch flavour it blends beautfilly with cacao in drinks. Maca works directly on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, which are the ‘master glands’ of the body, helping to regulate other glands. This makes it useful for supporting levels of sex hormones for men and women too.
Another commonly used herb is ginseng. Panax ginseng, also known as Asian, Chinese or Korean ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. There are two other types: American and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus). All the ginsengs strengthen your body and increase energy. Their health benefits derive from their antioxidant properties, their ability to stimulate the immune system and protect the body against the adverse effects of stress. Ginsengs work as adaptogens, helping you adapt, or function, normally while you are coping with physical or emotional stress. They are also benefical for anyone feeling fatigued or recovering from illnesss. They are used by athletes to boost physical endurance and stamina and are well known for their ability to increase vitality. Women often find Siberian ginseng is more suitable and Panax more applicable to the male system. American ginseng is more calming and a good overall health tonic.
Ashwagandha is a traditional adaptogenic herb popular in many parts of India and Asia. Often referred to as ‘Indian Ginseng’ as its properties are similar to ginseng. Ashwagandha is used as an adaptogen (as it enhances endurance), rejuvenating tonic, sedative and immune supporting food. Valued as an anti-aging herb it may help calm the mind, improve memory and harmonize body systems.
For true long term vitality you can’t do much better than green superfoods, a whole category of nutritional energizers. This includes wheatgrass and barley grass, chlorella, and spirulina. All are densely packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, chlorophyll and essential fats. Spirulina, a blue-green algae, contains over 65% complete protein and the essential amino acids are so well balanced that it is easier to digest than meat. A great source of iron and B vitamins it is used to treat anaemia. It makes a fantastic pick me up – great for anyone with decreased energy levels and poorly functioning immune system.
Bee products are amazing superfoods, both healing and nourishing. Bee pollen is a nutrient powerhouse. It contains the full spectrum of nutrients necessary for human health. It is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and carbohydrates. It is widely used to improve energy, strength and endurance.
Royal jelly another nutrient-rich superfood, is packed full of vitamins A, C, D, E, enzymes and protein. It is especially rich in B vitamins particularly pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), which helps support the adrenal glands, regulating hormones and helping the body respond to stress.
Matcha Green Tea Although green tea does contain some caffeine it also contains an amino acid L theanine which stimulates the production of alpha brain waves to create a state of calmness and mental alertness off-setting the effects of caffeine. The health benefits of matcha tea exceed those of green tea because when you drink matcha you ingest the whole leaf, not just the brewed water. One glass of matcha is the equivalent of 10 glasses of green tea in terms of its nutritional value and antioxidant content. Known as an effective fat burner and energising food it’s high antioxidant levels mean it is also helpful in protecting our bodies from damage. See my recipe for Matcha Tea Bread or try adding it to a green smoothie.
Raw Cacao is the raw unprocessed source of the ever popular chocolate. Prized by many cultures for thousands of years. Raw, unsweetened cacao powder, which is high in antioxidant flavonols, is very different from the common commercial cocoa drinks and chocolates. Cacao is derived from cacao beans one of nature’s most fantastic superfoods due to its mineral content and wide array of unique and varied properties. Raw cacao is one of the best food sources of magnesium which is essential for energy production. It is also exceptionally rich in chromium to support blood sugar. It contains a number of compounds known to boost mood and relaxation such as Tryptophan, Theobromine and phenylethylamine (PEA). See my raw cacao recipes for inspiration
Other Energy Nutrients. Co-enzyme Q10. An essential nutrient found naturally in the body and present in foods such as kidney, liver, spinach, alfalfa and soybeans. Acting in conjunction with enzymes it speeds up the metabolic process as has an essential role in energy production. It is also a strong antioxidant and is widely used as an energy enhancer and anti-ageing supplement. Although our bodies can make Co Q10 its production declines as we age. Taking a daily supplement after the age of 40 may help enhance stamina and energy levels. Try taking between 50mg-100mg twice a day. It often takes 1-2 months for noticeable results. Another important co-enzyme is Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) which helps produce energy from food. It is often used to relieve chronic fatigue.
L carnitine. This is an amino acid from which certain proteins are made. The body requires L-carnitine for energy production and fat metabolism. It is found in meat and dairy foods and can also be manufactured by the body. Deficiencies can occur in people on low protein diets, vegetarians and vegans or when certain other nutrients are in short supply. Carnitine supplements are widely available and may improve energy levels in some people.
NT Factor: One of the most well researched for relieving fatigue is lipid replacement therapy. By ensuring cell membranes are optimal you can improve assimilation of nutrients for energy production. The best supplements are NT Factor available in capsules or chewables or as a green powdered supplement
Remember there is no magic formula for enhanced energy. It’s important you take a holistic view of your diet and lifestyle to see where improvements can be made. You may benefit from undertaking an adrenal stress test to see if stress is an underlying issue for you. Contact our clinic for additional support and supplement advice
Key nutrients & food sources for production of energy
Zinc: lean red meat, fish, milk and dairy products, shellfish, oats, pumpkin seeds, most nuts, beans and pulses, tofu
Magnesium: leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, wholegrains, tofu
Vitamin B1: beans, eggs, fish, organ meats, peanuts, milk, wholegrains, pork
Vitamin B2: organ meats, lean meat, leafy green vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, yeast extract, nuts
Vitamin B3: beans, fish, lentils, liver, nuts, poultry, wholegrains, lean meat, breakfast cereals, can also be made from tryptophan (an amino acid)
Iron: lean red meat, offal, fish, shellfish, eggs, chicken, leafy green vegetables, dried apricots, molasses, lentils
Manganese: nuts, avocado, kale, pineapple, spinach, strawberries
L Carnitine: lean meat, poultry, fish, avocado, full fat dairy
Glutathione (GSH): made from amino acids L-glutamine, L-cysteine, and glycine – whey protein is a useful supplement to boosting levels. Other useful supplements include Alpha lipoic Acid, Selenium, N-acetyl cysteine. Also found in garlic, onions, watermelon, asparagus, walnuts
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”14″ gal_title=”Energy Boosters”]