There’s no better time to shake up your health regime and focus on your wellness than spring. With the longer days and (slightly) warmer weather, nutritionist Kim Pearson reveals how to increase energy levels and come out of hibernation!
Many of us experience low energy levels – from the odd afternoon energy dip to constant fatigue. There are many reasons why your energy might be less than it used to be and it’s important to know the possible underlying causes of low energy. Here are five ways to put the spring back into your step this spring.
It may seem obvious but one of the best ways to ensure you have plenty of energy is to make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep. Many of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep but there are a few things you can do to help overcome this.
Exposure to the blue light emitted by screens (phones, laptops, TVs etc) has been shown to suppress our sleep hormone, melatonin. Try to avoid them at least one hour before bedtime. Instead, read a book, take a bath or find something else that relaxes you.
Make an effort to go to bed earlier. It’s easy to roll into the next Netflix episode without realising the time so try setting an alarm to remind yourself it’s time to switch off.
Avoiding sleep disrupting drinks – you’re probably well aware that drinking caffeinated drinks after a certain time can affect your sleep, but alcohol can also have a negative effect on sleep. That glass of wine may make you feel sleepy, but ironically it can actually disrupt healthy sleep. Avoid drinking every night and notice if you feel more energetic the day after a night off alcohol.
Hypnotherapy recordings can be very effective at helping you get off to sleep. There are many available for free on the app store. Download one in advance and play it through your headphones to help you drift off.
Certain supplements can help support healthy sleep. Two that I recommend are 5HTP (try Solgar 5-HTP vegetable capsules), a form of tryptophan that is converted into melatonin, and valerian, a natural herbal sleeping aid (I recommend A.Vogel Dormeasan tincture).
B vitamins are essential for the conversion of food to energy making them an essential nutrient to keep us going every day. B vitamins are present in foods such as fish, meat and eggs and while some B vitamins are available from vegetables sources, others aren’t. For example, it’s very hard to consume optimal vitamin B12 if you’re vegan, which is why supplementing this is important.
Whether you’re a meat eater or not if your energy is low you may benefit from taking a daily B vitamin complex supplement. B vitamins work in synergy so I don’t generally recommend taking them individually unless it’s been recommended that you do for a specific reason. I love Viridian High Five B-Complex.
Ongoing stress can really zap your energy levels. We all have busy lives, but if stress is persistent it can negatively affect us in a number of ways. The body can only carry on pumping out high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol before it reaches exhaustion. When this happens energy levels can take a huge dive. If you think that stress could be having an impact on your energy you can take a simple saliva test to determine the levels of cortisol at four key times over the day. This will enable your practitioner to work out a programme to help you overcome your fatigue.
Balance your blood sugar
Our blood sugar is the sugar present in our bloodstream that provides our cells with energy. We get this sugar from the food we eat. Certain foods – such as simple sugars and refined carbohydrates – can cause a spike in our blood sugar levels which is then followed by a drop.
When our blood sugar levels drop, so does our energy. Maintaining a balanced blood sugar level is key in supporting good health and optimal energy levels. To help balance your blood sugar, avoid high glycemic carbohydrates such as sugary foods, bread, pastries and cereals. Vegetables are the best sources of carbohydrates. Build protein into your meals which will also help slow the release of sugars into the blood stream. Fish, seafood, eggs, tofu and high quality, natural protein powders are all good sources of protein.
If you’ve struggled with low energy levels for a while it is worth asking your doctor or nutritionist for a blood test. Deficiency of nutrients like iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D (try BetterYou vitamin D oral spray) can all make you feel fatigued. Thyroid disorders, such as underactive thyroid, can also wreak havoc with your energy levels and are commonly left undiagnosed. Request a comprehensive thyroid screen that includes not only TSH and T4 but also T3, reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies.
Don’t suffer with low energy levels. If you can’t identify the cause of your tiredness contact a healthcare professional who can help you get to the root cause of the issue.