Now that Winter is finally winding down I bet you are all feeling a little bit tired, a little sluggish, and wondering when you will get your energy back. Trust me, you are not alone. With Spring around the corner I thought I would share some advice on how you can start to get your energy back and feel great for the warm weather. Here are 5 recommendations on how you can start to feel more energized:
1) Reduce Your Refined Sugar Intake
Refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup are ingredients that many of us consume daily without realizing the health issues that they can potentially cause. These sugars are simply empty calories with no nutritional content whatsoever. They tend to alter our brain chemistry into a euphoric type state and as a result can be addicting. All sugars tend to raise blood sugar levels, however refined sugar does this at a much more rapid rate and as a result causes a drastic spike in insulin. While this may initially provide an energy boost, it is quickly followed with a crash. Over time this constant spiking can cause many health problems such as Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.
Although this may not be something many of you currently need to worry about, the short term effects of constant refined sugar consumption can be one of the potential reasons why you are lacking in energy on a daily basis. Try reducing your intake as much as possible over a two week period of time and see if you feel the difference. There are some wonderful sweetener alternatives out there, so don’t fret. I love to bake and eat sweets and have found that pure maple syrup, raw honey and evaporated cane sugar make excellent replacements to your basic white sugar.
2) Start Walking
You don’t have to become a member of the local gym to start incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine. Walking for 30-60 minutes at least 3 times per week has shown to significantly improve many areas of health. Exercise releases endorphines which are known to boost overall mood and lower the incidence of depression. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that provide a euphoric feeling similar to morphine. This is extremely beneficial for people suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, daily stress, or just feeling down. Regular exercise has shown to improve overall quality of sleep, which in the long run will be sure to boost your energy levels!
3) Drink Plenty of Water
Keeping hydrated throughout the day is key in sustaining your energy levels. I am sure you have all heard it before, but it is a recommendation that each of us drinks at least 8 glasses (8oz) of water per day. It is always important to factor in caffeine, soda and alcohol intake as this will increase dehydration and enhance your body’s need for water.
You might still be wondering why adequate water intake is so critical to our health and energy levels. The human body is made up of approximately 60% water. Water plays a critical role in the transport of nutrients, hormones and oxygen throughout the bloodstream. All of which are vital to our everyday functioning and of course energy levels. Water is also involved in the maintenance of our body temperatures and helps to lubricate joints and major organs throughout the entire body. When your water is not balanced internally it can lead to dehydration making your feel exhausted. The next time you feel that 3pm crash coming on try a big glass of water instead of coffee and see how it might change your overall energy levels for the better.
4) Switch to Whole Grains
Eating breads, rolls and pastries made from refined white flour may be your top choice, however choosing whole grains whenever possible is significantly more beneficial to your overall health and energy levels. Whole grains like brown rice, oats, barley, spelt, and buckwheat are packed with dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals that can all enhance your health in more ways then one. Soluble fibre found in foods like flax seeds, psyllium husk, berries, apples and carrots are know to regulate blood sugar levels, lower blood fats, and are critical to bowel health and elimination.
When you are eating processed flours much of the beneficial nutrients especially the vitamins, minerals and fibres are removed. Similarly to white sugar, post-consumption of these foods leaves you with a spike in your insulin levels leading to a drastic decrease in energy as your blood sugar levels drop. The overall health consequences to this are the same as consuming white and refined sugars daily.
Replacing your everyday white loaf of bread with whole grains could provide you with more energy and may not be as drastic as it sounds. Many local bakeries produce unrefined whole grain breads that taste even better than white bread and have so much more nutrients. One of my favourite’s is Little Stream Bakery. They have wonderful options including a variety of gluten and wheat free loafs. The next thing that I would recommend is also switching your cereals to whole grain options and adding in ground flax, chia or psyllium husk. Theses are great sources of soluble fibre that will help sustain your energy and keep you full for longer.
5) Incorporate Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fats that are required by the body to support many health process from blood circulation to eye sight. They are referred to as “essential” because the body is unable to manufacture them on their own and as a result they must be acquired through food. Studies have shown that supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids can decreased depression symptoms in patients who were already depressed. Boosting your mood can significantly increase your overall energy levels. Another amazing benefit of omega 3 is its ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body as well as improve your heart health. For people suffering with chronic pain who are not able to move around as much this decrease in pain might just be what you need to get your energy back. There are some amazing food sources of omega 3’s out there. My favourite ones, which are the direct source of EPA and DHA that the body needs, are salmon, trout and butterfish!