With our busy modern lives, ‘feeling tired’ can be common-place. So apart from less work and more holidays, what can we do to optimise our energy levels?
There is a common conception that energy ‘in’ automatically means energy ‘out’. However, we need to look beyond this to limit negative effects, such as stress, that can lead to a reduction in energy. Supporting our adrenal glands and nervous system, will help to limit these effects and we can support these through optimising our lifestyle and nutrition habits. Here are 9 tips to help optimise and support your energy levels...
1. Sleep and rest
Sleep and rest are important. Be selective about when you go out and most evenings after work – go home, eat, relax and go to bed early to get 8 hours sleep. Avoid checking emails or making plans late into the evening. Practice ‘switching off’ with ‘light’ reading, listening to music or taking a hot bath with essential oils.
2. Switching up your exercise routine
Exercise and movement help us to release ‘happy’ hormones called endorphins, but it can be best to avoid more vigorous exercise such as spinning, fast running or squash if you are going through a very stressful time or suffer from fatigue. These types of activities tend to further over-stimulate the adrenal glands. Instead try brisk walking, swimming, a dance class or yoga. These ‘calmer’ kinds of exercise are more likely to put the nervous system into a desirable parasympathetic state; away from the more ‘panic’ or anxiety-inducing mode of the sympathetic nervous system.
3. B vitamin's
As well as magnesium, B vitamin's are essential for energy production, for the normal functioning of the nervous system, and vitamin B5 in particular for production of the glucocorticoid hormones in the adrenals, such as cortisol. Good sources include whole grains, eggs, beans and lentils, a wide range of vegetables, fish and meats (choose good quality or organic meat). Our Food-Grown B Complex Plus formula, combines B vitamins, minerals, CoEnzyme Q10 and our hero ingredient Organic Ashwagandha to support energy during busy periods.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another nutrient that is vital for the manufacture of adrenal hormones. Fruits and vegetables are the best source but, contrary to popular belief, oranges do not have the highest levels; better sources include peppers, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, watercress and red cabbage. You can also top up your levels with a food-source supplement.
5. Balancing your blood sugar
Balancing our blood sugar helps us to prevent unwanted blood sugar highs and lows, which are triggered by cortisol. This stimulates appetite and cravings for high-sugar, high-carbohydrate foods (which can stress your body and adrenal glands further). You can read more about how blood sugar works and how you manage it in a healthy way in our two other blog articles – ‘What is blood sugar balance?’ and ‘6 nutrition tips to help you manage your blood sugar’.
6. Supporting your adrenal glands and nervous system
Taking care of your adrenal glands and nervous system also supports your thyroid gland health – another major area of energy control in the body. The stress hormone cortisol can limit your capacity to convert thyroid hormones into their required active forms. The thyroid itself also requires special nutrients and you can read more about that here.
7. Natural herbs like Ashwagandha
Herbs such as ashwagandha have been traditionally used to support energy and nourish organs that may be negatively effected by stress so it’s a great herb to supplement for anyone feeling pressured or worn out. Medicinal mushrooms are also helpful such as cordyceps and reishi as they also provide antioxidant support.
8. Looking after our gut
Most of our immune system resides in our gut, so anything unwanted inhabiting the gut will burden our system even more and will affect our mitochondria. If you suffer from bacterial infections or a yeast overgrowth then supporting your immune system is vital. A qualified nutritional therapist will be able to look into whether you require specific gut support and work with you to remove anything creating ‘gut dysbiosis’. Foods such as garlic have an antimicrobial affect and a type of fatty acid called caprylic acid has an anti-fungal effect.
9. Reducing your caffeine intake
People with low energy and low adrenal reserves often crave stimulants such as coffee, tea or energy drinks to boost their energy and get through the day. But caffeine also stimulates the adrenals and makes them work even harder, making the situation worse in the long run. Even decaffeinated versions of coffee and standard tea can contain other stimulants such as theobromine and should be avoided. Try reducing caffeine and green tea can be a good option as it contains less caffeine and tannins.