Dr. Kathy Gruver
We’ve all observed children playing. We watch for a second and then say, “Gee, I wish I had their energy.” And then everyone laughs as they remember what it was like to not tire as quickly as we do now. I’m not guaranteeing you’ll be running around the playground by morning, but I do have some suggestions that can help boost your energy.
Making sure you get proper nutrition is key to our energy levels. Since most of the food we eat is either processed, irradiated, minerally depleted, genetically modified, sprayed with a chemical, or artificial, I recommend taking a high-quality vitamin and mineral supplement. The B vitamins are essential for good energy, increasing B6 and B12 is my first suggestion for weary clients. Don’t take them too late in the day or they may interrupt your sleep.
Getting a wide variety of minerals is also essential. Everyone stresses the importance of calcium, but there are so many other minerals we need like iron, magnesium, molybdenum, copper, zinc, etc. Taking a good multi-mineral supplement can help. Also, remember that we need protein for energy. Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, can be taken in supplement form. I especially recommend this for vegetarians or non-red meat eaters.
When we hit that afternoon slump, most people reach for soda or a candy bar. Often we crave something sweet and use glucose as an energy source. Make sure that what you’re getting contains real sugar and not high fructose corn syrup or a form of artificial sweetener. These trick our bodies into thinking we’re getting sugar but it’s really an unusable substance. Don’t over do it on the sugar though, or you’ll crash later and feel worse. Often what we really need is fresh air or water. Do some deep breathing, get outside and have a big glass of water. That will probably perk you up as much as the afternoon cup o’ joe.
Ginseng is a natural stimulant that can be taken in herbal form or is contained in specialty beverages. Make sure what you’re drinking actually has ginseng and not just a bunch of caffeine. Too much ginseng, like caffeine, can cause racing heart, palpitations or nervousness. Again, moderation is the key. And speaking of caffeine; I personally don’t believe caffeine is bad….per se. Though remember drowsiness is not a caffeine deficiency! Too much can cause sleep disturbances, jitteriness, heart issues, anxiety and is often addictive. Ever have that day where you can’t get your morning java? How long before that headache kicks in? Try not to have caffeine too late in the day or if you’re prone to heart issues or anxiety.
The newest boosting craze is energy drinks like Red Bull, No Fear, Full Throttle and Rockstar. These drinks are high in sugar and caffeine and can lead to a later crash and physical addiction. This is much worse for children than adults. High amounts of caffeine cause extra excretion of calcium, which in young girls can lead to osteoporosis later. These drinks can also be very addicting. Another new trend is mixing these energy drinks with alcohol. That’s not the best choice. Alcohol is a depressant and caffeine and sugar are stimulants. Yes, it allows you to drink more alcohol but this combination could be disastrous as it clouds your judgment as to how drunk you actually are. This can lead to driving with someone intoxicated, taking sexual risks and increased injury.
I know the last thing you want to do when you’re already tired is exercise. But, a review of 12 large-scale studies on the connection between exercise and fatigue found a direct link between a reduced level of fatigue for people who were physically active compared to those who were inactive. Other research shows that even among people with chronic illness like cancer or heart disease, exercise can ward off feelings of fatigue and help people feel more energized. This doesn’t mean you have to run five miles, even 15-20 minutes of walking or light exercise can make a difference.
Since our bodies are 80% water, keep yourself hydrated. If we wait until we feel the sensation of thirst, it’s too late, and we’re already dehydrated. Drink water throughout the day, which helps with blood flow and removal of toxins. Remember caffeine is a diuretic, which causes increased output of urine, so caffeinated drinks don’t count. Pure water is the best! We can also boost energy by deep breathing. Oxygen carries energy to our cells, which will give us a natural perk. Try four slow deep breaths (use your abdomen not just your chest) and get a natural high.
Get enough sleep. It stands to reason that if you’re not sleeping well, you’re going to have low energy the next day. It’s a myth that we need eight hours of sleep. We need as much as we need. Some people are fine on six hours, while others need 9 or 10. Go to bed when you’re tired if at all possible. Don’t force yourself to stay awake at night, especially by artificial means. And during the day, if you’re really tired and can take a nap, take one. But make it short. Don’t sleep too much or you’ll have trouble sleeping at night.
Attitude makes a difference. If we are constantly telling ourselves that we’re tired and have no energy, it’s just programming the body to behave that way. Change your mind to change your body. Try affirmations like: “I am well-rested and energized.” “I am filled with vigor.” “My energy is boundless.” You’ll have better results with positive thinking.
If you’re finding that your energy is consistently low, make sure there’s not an underlying condition like anemia, hypothyroid, adrenal insufficiency, infection, Fibromyalgia, low blood sugar, depression or cancer. Blood tests can help rule out a medical problem. Also check any prescriptions or over the counter medications you’re taking to see if fatigue might be a side effect.
I hope these ideas help you increase your energy. May your nights be restful and your days filled with liveliness and light. Yours in health!
About The Author
Dr. Kathy Gruver, author of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet, has earned her ND as a Traditional Naturopath and PhD in Natural Health. Gruver has been featured as an expert in numerous publications and has written dozens of health and wellness articles. She has appeared as an expert on over 60 radio shows and speaks nationwide. More information can be found at www.TheAlternativeMedicineCabinet.com