The single question I get asked more than any other is how to boost energy levels naturally. Fatigue may be a symptom of a lack of a nutrients or a disease state.
Find the Root of the Problem
In truth, there is a wide range of reasons why we could feel a lack of energy, therefore the root of the problem needs to be investigated and treated. These last few weeks I have explored some of the major health conditions (see previous articles) which can cause fatigue – although the list is practically inexhaustible. Therefore, the best thing to do is to get a check-up with your GP to rule out anything sinister. If you get the all clear and you are not deficient in the main energy nutrients, such as iron, vitamin B12, folate, magnesium and Vitamin D, you can try my fool-proof tips bellow to boost your energy and keep it at a good level.
On a physical/chemical level, we derive energy from the sun, which is captured by plants as the energy that binds together carbon, hydrogen and oxygen as carbohydrate. So, the first requirement for energy is the right kind of carbohydrate. We effectively ‘burn’ carbon atoms, releasing the sun’s energy within food, combining it with oxygen, which comes from the breath. With more oxygen, people feel more energized and the simplest way to increase your intake of oxygen is through certain breathing techniques and exercise.
However, before the carbohydrate you eat gets to meet oxygen for the final energy-making reaction, the ‘fuel’ has to be prepared and broken down, step by step. This is done by a sequence of enzymes that depend on a whole family of nutrients, especially B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as the minerals iron, zinc and magnesium. Chromium also plays a vital role in stabilising glucose (digested carbohydrate) supply to cells.
At the same time the energy within glucose is released within the energy factories (called mitochondria) inside every cell, so too are millions of harmful oxidant by-products. The ability to continually disarm these with antioxidants, and particularly an antioxidant called Co-enzyme Q10, makes a big difference to how you feel. So these are the basic energy nutrients.
Adrenal & Thyroid Hormones For Energy
If all these fuels keep your engine running, so to speak, adrenal hormones are the accelerator, with thyroid hormones being the ignition – the on-off button on all cells. These are the energy hormones, and they too are made from specific nutrients.
Melatonin & Healthy Liver For Sleep
And then there is the sleeping hormone, Melatonin, which can be under-secreted or suppressed by stress hormones. There is nothing draining your energy more than a bad night’s sleep. As the liver is more active at night, any problems or sluggishness with that organ can disturb your sleep.
To boost your energy and keep it at a good level:
- Eat the right kind of carbohydrates such as vegetables, low sugar containing fruits, legumes and some wholegrains such as oats, brown rice and quinoa
- Include protein in each meal and snack to balance blood sugar levels and maintain constant energy, for example; meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds
- Minimise caffeine intake, which affect blood sugar levels and drain your adrenals. 1-2 cups of green tea in the morning time is beneficial.
- Avoid stimulants and energy expenders such as sports drinks and sugar. After a big boost an even bigger drop will follow with sugar cravings, irritability, headaches, PMS, hot flushes and lethargy. It’s really not worth it!
- Supplement the energy nutrients – a high B complex containing multivitamin and some extra magnesium, vitamin C and Co-enzyme Q10.
- Try extra chromium, especially if you crave sweets
- Support your thyroid with sea vegetables like Kelp, Kombu and Hijiki and selenium rich Brazil nuts
- Support your adrenal glands with adaptogen herbs, including Rhodiola, Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha, licorice. (Make sure to check for contraindications if you are taking any medications!)
- Do vital energy generating aerobic exercises and stretch your main muscle groups every day. If only 20 minutes but work up a sweat! This boosts circulation of nutrient rich blood to your tissues and kick-start your thyroid. Have a cold rinse after shower for best results.
- Practice sleep hygiene and get to bed well before midnight. There is nothing like quality sleep to give you a good start.
Fatigue Maybe a Symptom
If these steps don’t give you the skip in your steps, make sure to contact me for further investigations – especially if you experience digestive discomforts of any kind. It’s not only what you eat – but more so what you can absorb that makes a difference. As fatigue can be a symptom of many underlining conditions, a thorough investigation is recommended to find the root of the problem, whatever the health concern may be. We are all very individual; as there are no two snowflakes alike, neither are any two human bodies. I run functional tests that reveal how your gut and your cells are working, which may reveal deep-seated health issues not spotted by the usual laboratory tests. Once we found the cause, with a tailor made menu plan and herbal supplement regime your body can be gently ushered back to health – without side effects.
BANANA-PECAN GRANOLA BARS
The energy-boost snack – that keeps you going!
(Yields 15 bars)
- 1 and ½ cups regular oat flakes
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- ½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp allspice
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- ½ cup pecans, chopped
- 1 cup dried fruits (1/2 chopped figs, ½ currants or Goji berries)
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- ¼ cup coconut oil (melted)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
What to do with them:
Preheat the oven to 175 Celsius. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine oats, pecan nuts, sesame seeds and coconut flakes. Stir in allspice and cinnamon. Add dried fruit and stir until well and evenly mixed. Make sure the dried fruit do not stick together in big batches.In another bowl, combine coconut oil, mashed banana and vanilla extract.
Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
Spread the batter evenly onto the baking sheet, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch high. Cut them into 15 even-sized bars.
Alternatively, use a large cookie cutter and press spoonfuls of the batter into it, then remove the cookie cutter. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. The granola bars tend to get brown at the bottom first, so make sure not to burn them. Let them cool completely, store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.