A busy life-style or lack of sleep? Are you often left feeling like you need a boost so you can take better advantage of the day ahead of you? Fortunately, there are things we can do to improve our energy levels, like making small changes to our diet, exercising when we can and maintaining stress levels.
Follow these ten natural steps to boost your energy
1. Learn to Breathe Correctly
This may sound stupid, but many people don't actually breathe properly. Your stomach should go out when you inhale and in when exhaling. When you are not breathing correctly, you can reduce the amount of oxygen you take in by up to one/third, and clearly we need oxygen to breathe. A lack of sufficient oxygen going to the cells of the brain can turn on our sympathetic nervous system, our "fight or flight" response can take effect and this makes us tense, anxious, irritable, and depressed. Many types of meditation exercises focus on breathing as a way of boosting energy.
This simple meditation exercise will help you relax while also breathing correctly:
- Squat, resting your buttocks on your heels.
- Straighten your back, put your hand on your hips and inhale deeply.
- Hold for a few seconds, then exhale for as long as you can, contract your abdominal muscles and hold for five seconds.
2. Detoxify Through Liquids
Cleansing the system through liquids is an effective way of flushing out toxins in your body. This allows the body to function way more efficiently while boosting energy levels. Try to cut out all stimulants and caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, alcohol and fizzy drinks, for at least two weeks. Instead, drink plenty of water, up to three pints a day and drink cleansing teas such as camomile, mint and grapefruit. You might also want to take a Milk Thistle supplement, which helps aid the detoxification of the liver.
3. Curb your Carbs
Eating large amounts of stodgy carbohydrates such as bread, rice and pasta makes our digestive system have to work much harder. Carbohydrates do give us energy by providing glucose, but they can also over-burden the digestive system if we eat too many. Try cutting down by roughly 50% on carbohydrates you may eat on a regular basis. Use substitutes like lean white meat or fish, accompanied by as many green vegetables as possible, with fruit for pudding. For breakfast, try to combine high protein such as yoghurt, eggs or fish with a small amount of carbohydrate and fibre such as porridge, granola, wholemeal bread or fruit.
4. Reduce your Sugar Intake
If you believe sugar gives you a boost of energy, you are highly mistaken. Eating too much sugar makes you incredibly sleepy (and not to mention bloated). This is because high sugar consumption prevents the production of Orexin, which is the chemical in the brain that gives us the feeling of being awake. Sugary foods can also have a negative effect on our skin, when your blood sugar spikes, your body makes insulin. Studies have shown that an increase of insulin in your body influences your skin to produce more sebum, which can clog pores and trigger acne.
By cutting down on your sugar intake you will be taking a major burden off your metabolic system, which will give you more energy. Cut out processed sugar foods such as biscuits, cakes and pastries and focus more fruit as a means of getting your sugar fix. As well as making us sleepy, research has also shown that an over consumption of sugar can lead to cancer and can damage our immune system.
5. Increase your Minerals
Nothing in the body can work without minerals, and often the reason we lack energy is because we are not absorbing enough essential minerals from our food. The main minerals we need everyday are calcium, iron, magnesium, chromium and zinc. You can find many of these minerals in nuts and seeds. Chromium, one of the most important minerals, is found mostly in whole foods, as well as asparagus and mushrooms. Many minerals are also found in green vegetables. For example, spinach is rich in iron, and magnesium is in cabbage and broccoli. But it is actually quite difficult to get the correct amount of minerals every day, so you may want to consider taking a daily mineral supplement that contains the essential minerals.
6. Eat less, more often
Large meals tend to leave you feeling tired afterwards as the body is working hard to digest a lot of food in one go. Try eating five small meals or snacks a day instead of three large meals. This way you will preserve more energy, as well as reducing periods of energy dips during the day. We naturally have energy dips when our food energy has worn off. These dips tend to occur at about 11am and 3pm. So by shortening the time between meals, you are more likely to avoid these dips and feel more energised throughout the whole day.
7. Help your Bowels
Sluggish bowels are a major cause of energy loss. To help your bowel function more efficiently, increase your intake of fibre, but remember not to do this through too many carbohydrates. Get your fiber from fruit, lentils, beans, seeds and lightly boiled or steamed vegetables. Also, try taking an acidophilus supplement, which will restore the level of good flora (friendly bacteria) into your gut. Good flora may deplete due to a number of reasons such as food intolerance, excess alcohol, antibiotics, a stomach bug or a intestinal fungal infection.
Here’s 4 diet changes you can make to help your bowels out:
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, either cooked or raw, and more whole grain cereals and breads. Dried fruit such as apricots, prunes, and figs are great too, and are especially high in fiber.
- Drink plenty of liquids, unless you have heart, blood vessels, or kidney problems. But be aware that some people become constipated from drinking large amounts of milk.
- Some doctors recommend adding small amounts of unprocessed bran (miller's bran) to baked goods, cereals, and fruit. Some people suffer from bloating and gas for several weeks after adding bran to their diets.
- Make diet changes slowly, to allow the digestive system to adapt.
8. Reduce your stress
Being constantly full of tension can be exhausting. High levels of stress cause your adrenal gland to produce an excess of stress hormones. The production of these hormones improves oxygen and glucose to the muscles, which slows down digestion, repair and maintenance to the rest of the body, leaving you feeling exhausted.
Whether it’s your job, family or friends causing you to feel stressed, this can take its toll on how many hours of sleep you get. When your stress levels are high, it can be much harder to fall asleep, and then stay asleep. Also, prolonged stress is known for causing chronic fatigue and in some cases, insomnia. A study in Sweden found that a more stressful work environment significantly increased the risk of insomnia.
Here’s how to lower your stress levels with these simple relaxation techniques:
- Lie down and close your eyes.
- Starting at your toes first clench them as hard as you can and then relax.
- Work your way up your body clenching and relaxing different muscles, ending with pushing your tongue as hard as you can against the roof of your mouth and then relax it.
It should take about 15 minutes. Also, some visualisation techniques can help too. This simple meditation / relaxation technique can help to manage your stress and can also help with insomnia.
9. Exercise More
Exercising is the key to boosting energy levels. By exercising you speed up your metabolism so everything will get digested faster. You also burn more of your food's energy into muscle than fat, which means overall the body becomes stronger and less burdened. Make sure you do some form of exercise that speeds up your heart beat for a good 20 minutes, at least four times a week. At least two of these exercise sessions should be impact exercises such as jogging, skipping or dancing. Also, try some of the energy building techniques such as Tai Chi, Aikido or Yoga.
Try exercising in the morning rather than at night as you will find it gives you more energy throughout the day, as chemicals called endorphins are released which keep energy levels high for a prolonged period after exercise.
10. Protect your Immune System
When your energy levels are low it means that your immune system is likely to be low too, and that is the prime time to get ill. Protect yourself by taking a few crucial immune-boosting supplements such as echinacea, garlic and also vitamin C. However, the best immune booster is sleep, get plenty of it and stay away from late night parties for a few weeks to let your body recover.
We’re sure your energy levels will be boosted after you try these simple changes to your lifestyle.
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