If you are dragging yourself out of bed in the morning or getting through the day fuelled by shots of coffee and fading by mid-afternoon, you may need to make some changes to your daily routine. So, follow these simple steps to reclaim your get-up-and-go.
It may seem obvious but a good night’s sleep is vital for maintaining energy levels. To encourage restful sleep, avoid exercising too late in the evening and stay away from stimulations such as caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee for at least six hours before bed. It also makes sense to avoid alcohol, which disrupts normal sleep patterns and avoid anything that keeps your mind busy before bed. Studies have shown that electronic devices, such as a laptop or mobile phone, emit a blue light that tricks the brain into thinking that it is daytime, so avoid using these in the evening.
If you are stressed, taking a warm bath and supplementing a blend of calming and relaxing herbs such chamomile, hops and lavender can help you relax.
Low blood sugar levels late at night may interrupt sleep. To prevent this and promote sleep, about one hour before bed, combine tryptophan-rich food such as milk, yoghurt or nut butter, with some carbohydrate to aid its availability to the brain. A small snack of cereal with milk, peanut butter on wholemeal toast, or cottage cheese on oatcakes may keep you sound asleep all night.
To keep your blood sugar levels balanced, it is important to follow a good night’s sleep with a nutritious breakfast. Although you may be tempted to cut out breakfast, this leads to blood sugar crashes and cravings for mid-morning coffee and cake! So, start the day with a nutritious breakfast such as sugar-free muesli, scrambled eggs or a nutritious shake. Protein from sources such as almonds, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds combined with fibre from wholegrains and flax seeds keep blood sugar levels balanced and help you to feel fuller for longer.
B vitamins are particularly important for energy production in the body and for supporting the adrenal glands and nervous system. If you have a hectic and demanding lifestyle or just need an extra boost, you might consider supplementing B.
To support balanced energy throughout the day, it is time to ditch processed and sugary foods including cakes, sweets and biscuits and replace too many caffeinated drinks with herbal teas such as antioxidant-rich green tea. Instead of refined white bread and pasta, switch to wholegrains like oats, brown rice and quinoa which release their sugars more slowly. Stop hunger pangs by including some healthy protein, such as fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils, in every meal and snack as this slows down the rate at which glucose is taken into the bloodstream. Hemp protein can be added to smoothies, porridge, cereals and soups or stirred into yoghurt with fruit.
Don’t forget to increase fibrous fruits and vegetables, to keep blood sugar steady and promote efficient detoxification. Fatigue and sluggishness may be signs of an over-acidic body. Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts not only support detoxification by the liver but also help maintain the correct acid-alkaline balance in the body. For a quick and tasty boost to your five-a-day, add a powdered, naturally sweetened fruit and vegetable drink to cold water or sprinkle on to yoghurt or breakfast cereal.
Erratic eating and skipping meals can cause blood levels to crash, resulting in low energy and fatigue, so have a midmorning and mid-afternoon snack such as a handful of nuts and seeds with a piece of fruit or delicious pumpkin seed butter spread on a couple of oatcakes or rye crackers.
Lethargy, brain fog and fatigue can all be signs of dehydration, so don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Water and herbal teas are ideal and hydration status can be monitored by the colour of the urine, which is a pale yellow if you are properly hydrated.
Finally, don’t forget to exercise. Rather than languishing on the sofa, moderate exercise can boost energy levels, getting the blood pumping and oxygen flowing. Start by taking regular daily walks or take up a hobby that you enjoy, such as swimming or dancing.
Follow these tips and you will soon be full of beans!