Written by Lisa Guy, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea.
Feel like you are always running on empty? Need your morning coffee hit to get going in the morning? If this sounds like you, and don’t worry you are definitely not alone. Here are some top dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to help boost your energy levels.
Eat iron rich foods
Iron is an extremely important mineral needed for good energy levels and health. Iron is necessary for the production of energy from glucose, which is the main fuel for both the brain and the rest of the body. Iron deficiency is a common nutrient deficiency in women, without sufficient levels you can become tired and run down. Iron is also vital for the production of red blood cells, to transport oxygen around the body, and is needed for healthy immune function. Include plenty of iron-rich foods in the diet including red meat, chicken, fish and eggs, wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables. Iron supplementation is recommended for those who have an iron deficiency.
Boost your B vitamins
B vitamins play a crucial role in energy production, helping the body use carbohydrates, proteins and fats as fuel. Without adequate B vitamins you will lack energy. B vitamins are important for supporting healthy nervous system and adrenal function and thus are especially important for stressed and anxious people. The best vitamin B-rich foods include wholegrain cereals and bread, wheat germ, nuts, seeds, legumes, meat, poultry, salmon, eggs, milk and green leafy vegetables. You may also like to take a good quality activated B complex supplement daily, to get a nice balance of all your B vitamins and a boost in energy levels.
Up your magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is vital for good health and vitality. Magnesium is needed for many cellular functions in the body, particularly for the production of energy. It is also an important mineral for supporting nervous system and adrenal health. Magnesium is considered the ‘anti-stress’ nutrient as it helps calm the nervous system and is therefore beneficial for people who are anxious, or have trouble sleeping. Magnesium occurs abundantly in natural, unprocessed foods. People who consume large amounts of processed refined foods will risk becoming deficient in this important mineral. Best dietary sources include tofu, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Avoid overcooking to minimise loss of magnesium.
Choose complex carbs over refined carbs
Choosing complex carbohydrates over ‘white’ refined carbohydrate foods will help keep blood sugar levels and energy levels stable. Processed carbs which commonly contain lots of sugar, cause sharp spikes in blood sugar levels when eaten. This leaves you feeling tired, irritable, unable to concentrate, and craving more sugar. Regular consumption of these sugary foods will not only leave you lacking in energy but will increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity and lowered immune function. Choose slow release complex carbs that provide a slow and steady supply of glucose for energy, without causing a sharp rise in blood sugar levels. Good choices include wholegrain breads and pasta, whole oats and muesli, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and root vegetables such as beetroot, pumpkin and sweet potato.
Get a good night sleep
Eight hours sleep at night is considered optimal for good health and vitality. Sleep is essential for proper functioning of all systems in the body. It is during sleep that our body rests and revitalizes. This is when cells produce and release proteins essential for growth and tissue repair. If you are not getting enough sleep it could be impacting your health more than you think. Not only do we lack energy when we don’t get enough sleep but it can cause poor concentration and memory, mood swings, decreased production of growth hormones, and weaken immune function, leaving us more vulnerable to illness. If you have difficulty getting to sleep try a calming sleep-time tea made from soothing herbs like valerian, passionflower, lemon balm and chamomile before you hit the sack. These herbs are commonly prescribed by herbalists and naturopaths to treat people with insomnia. Try our Bodhi Organic TranquliTEA or SereniTEA.
Cut back on caffeine
Caffeine stimulates the production of stress hormones, namely cortisol, which gives you a temporary boost in energy levels. However this can also contribute to levels of anxiety, irritability, muscle tension, weakened immunity and insomnia. Consuming too much caffeine will also affect your blood sugar levels and in-turn energy levels. Caffeine causes a temporary surge in blood sugar levels, followed by an overproduction of insulin, which results in blood sugar levels dropping dramatically. The most common sources of caffeine to watch out for are coffee, black tea, chocolate, soft drink, and energy drinks. Why not try some caffeine-free alternatives like dandelion root coffee, carob instead of chocolate, and herbal teas like peppermint, ginger, lemongrass, liquorice and chamomile.
Siberian ginseng, Ashwagandha, and Rhodiola are best known for their ability to improve energy levels and endurance. These adaptogenic herbs help support adrenal function and increase the body’s resistance to stress. These vitality boosting botanicals are commonly used by herbalists and naturopaths to treat people with chronic fatigue. Try our Bodhi Organic VitaliTEA.