Do you ever complain about being tired? Many people do.
A number of medical conditions can make you feel tired including iron deficiencies, low thyroid function, diabetes, depression, coeliac disease, sleep apnoea, among others so check in with your doctor first if you are feeling tired. Many people will still feel sluggish without any underlying condition.
Even if you are suffering from one of these conditions, treating lifestyle factors such as poor diet, poor sleep, stress and emotional factors can improve your energy levels.
“A common story goes something like this: “I do like to have a nap on the couch during the day to recharge my batteries. And it’s not unusual for me to fall asleep at 7pm while I’m watching tele in the evening. But I am getting older and I do work really hard, so that is to be expected.” While tiredness and aches and pains may be quite common, it’s not healthy and it’s not to be expected. We should be able to cope with a full day’s work and still be able to interact with our family in the evening.” (Excerpt from Optimal Prescription Health)
If we have the right nutrients going into our bodies we can stay alert and active. A poor diet can lead to inflammation in the gut which reduces the absorption of nutrients into our bodies. So how can we improve our diet?
- Eat breakfast
- Eat regularly and often
- Stop eating foods you are sensitive to
- Drink plenty of water
- Increase protein, fruit and vegetables and fibre
- Decrease high GI carbohydrates in the diet and processed foods
Here’s a quick rundown on the glycaemic index. GI measures carbohydrates according to how quickly they are absorbed and raise the glucose levels in the blood. Foods that contain carbohydrates include bread, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, legumes, corn, potato, fruit, milk, yoghurt, sugar, biscuits, cakes and lollies. Our gut breaks down these foods into glucose which is used in each cell to produce energy. Carbohydrates that break down slowly release glucose gradually into the bloodstream (low GI) so glucose levels increase more slowly and give more sustained energy levels. Low GI foods include soy products, beans, fruit, milk, pasta, grainy bread, porridge and lentils. Try eating oats, barley or bran for breakfast; enjoy all types of fruit, vegetables and salads; try adding lentils and pita breads to your diet. Probiotics put the good bacteria back into the gut to help improve digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Supplements can be useful when you are unable to get all the nutrients you need from your food. If needed, start with a vitamin B complex which deplete in times of stress and busyness. Co-enzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring cofactor produced by the body that is essential for energy production. Unfortunately from our mid-twenties the production slows down and this is further reduced by cholesterol medicines. Lifestream Ultimate Veggies is a concentrated blend of six nutritious vegetables and Spirulina is rich in iron, phytonutrients, carotenoids and chlorophyll so can also help boost energy levels. Ask us which is the best supplement for you.
A good night’s sleep is vital for our health, energy levels and ability to perform. Sleep restores our body mentally and physically. So how can we improve our sleep?
- Make your bedroom a sleep haven, lovely and dark, quiet, cool and comfy
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Have a good sleeping routine and if you do have to pinch back some sleep time in the week, pay it back at another time
- Watch the sunset for a beautiful way to stimulate melatonin levels
- Turn TVs and computers off an hour before bed
- Eat protein, keep up levels of vitamin Bs, eat smaller meals of non-spicy and non-acidic foods at night
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening
- Quit smoking
- Exercise for 20-30 minutes a day - yoga is a great option
- Write down your worries.
Deal with stress
Stress and emotional baggage can take a heavy toll on vitality and energy levels. Some people will find venting their feelings, listening to music, walking at the beach and deep breathing will help reduce stress levels. Let go of negative feelings and look for ways of helping others for a more positive outlook.
As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have. To read more about optimal health, ask about the book quoted above or stay in touch with our wellbeing journey through our website (www.ahuriripharmacy.co.nz) or on facebook. Alison Cowell, Nutritionist from Healthy Eating, is available in store for private consultations.