Feeling constantly tired, exhausted and even overwhelmed has become the new norm. So much so that we started to accept the status quo! I am not the only one when I say “I wish I had more energy!”. So now imagine yourself with vital energy and no fatigue. Waking up, feeling refreshed, feeling happy to take on the day, spend quality time with our children where they get the best of us and finally feeling happy and energised at work. It almost sounds like annoying Bob because if we were to come across such person we would question his sanity.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way! We can have the energy and vitality that we want!
How do we produce energy in our body?
If I was to make the analogy of our body to a car then our engine is called mitochondrion (mitochondria being the plural). These take the fuel (in our case the food we eat specifically carbohydrates) and in the presence of oxygen (from the air we breath) it combusts and makes energy (called ATP) that supports every function of our body. There are more than 100,000 trillion mitochondria in our bodies (a 1,000s in each cell). Organs like the brain, heart and tissue such as muscles contain the greatest concentration of these.
Therefore, it is easy to imagine that if the mitochondria are not running properly our entire energy suffers. In fact, these little engines are very sensitive. When they are damaged at large scale we suffer from low energy, fatigue, rapid aging, etc.
What damages the mitochondria?
Coming back to the analogy of body as a car, the fumes of our body are by-products called oxidants. When this process gets out of control with very few anti-oxidants present to disarm them, at this point the mitochondria suffer. Too much food, smoking, exposure to toxins and pollutants, sugar, stress trigger “over”-oxidation and fatigue.
Is over oxidation the only reason why we get tired?
No. Our over reliance on carbohydrate foods also triggers this vicious circle of fatigue. I mentioned earlier how the fuel for the mitochondria is the carbohydrate. When we eat foods such as bread, pasta, fruits, root vegetables, beans our body breaks it down into glucose (a simple form of sugar). If the food has plenty of glucose then our body interprets it as if it needs to press the accelerator pedal.
The accelerators of our body are adrenal hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and the thyroid hormones. These are energy hormones and are made up of specific nutrients (amino acid tyrosine and vitamins such as B5). When we eat carbohydrate rich foods then our energy patterns is similar to a roller coaster. As glucose in the blood is highly available the role of the body and the hormones is to regulate glucose down (using it for body functions or storying it). So as the saying goes “what goes up, must come down” and the drop is of a cliff top. So your energy drops as well and fatigue settles in.
Understanding how to keep your fuel (food we eat) , your accelerator (your hormones) and your engine (mitochondria) in balance is what will get you to have the best energy.
4 steps to best energy
Eat the right carbohydrates with protein.
Right carbohydrates are the ones that release their energy slowly and therefore give you energy for longer. These are called low glycemic carbohydrates. Refined foods such as (white flour, white pasta, white rice, white potato) as well as certain fruits (bananas, tropical fruits, dried fruits, dates) release their energy very quickly so you will find yourself feeling tired. Whole foods and whole grains (brown rice, oats, rye, wholewheat, spelt, quinoa, etc) as well as berries release their energy slowly. The reason why they release their energy slower is because they contain fibre and lower amounts of glucose. Combining protein with your slow carbohydrates slows the release of energy further making us feel less fatigue over the day.
Quantity matters. So eating a bowl of wholewheat pasta will not really help. Aim for 1/4 of your plate to be made of slow carbs.
2. Eat energy nutrients
Vitamins and minerals are crucial in us making energy effectively. Making sure you add seeds, nuts, beans, liver, organ meats, eggs, salmon, mackerel, avocado, organic beef, green leafy vegetables, broccoli will help top up any levels.
The best way to make sure you have enough is to have 1/2 plate full of vegetables (see above in the Everyday Plate diagram).
3. Support your gut
The health of your digestive system is critical in ensuring you are making energy effectively. Eat plenty of fibre (green leafy vegetables and whole grains), reduce and try to avoid sugar, alcohol and processed foods, eat smaller meals, avoid overuse of antibiotics, painkillers, steroids and acid blocking drugs. All of these contribute to damage or promotion of gut health.
4. Increase your level of good quality oxygen
Deep breathing (through yoga), movement and spending time in nature, away from polluted cities is critical for us to make energy effectively.
Sometimes damaged gut (leaky gut), food sensitivities, overgrowth of bacteria (SIBO) and thyroid imbalances can all lead fatigue and loss of energy. So if you don’t see an improvement in your energy levels after changing your diet and getting some fresh air then it is time to look in more depth. We can always help with this so get in touch if you want more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Green Coconut delight
- 1 large handful kale leaves remove the stalk
- 2 tbsp grated coconut
- 2 cm piece ginger root
- 2 small handfuls pineapple chunks
- 1/2 small glass coconut cream
- 1 small glass almond milk
- 4 leaves mint optional
- Put everything in a blender and blitz until smooth