Why is it so many of us today are heading to the doctor in droves looking for a solution to our weariness? I am talking here not just about feeling a little tired after a big night out but the bone numbing weariness, exhaustion that many of my mostly female clients report. So this episode we explore why it is so many of us feel depleted and unable to keep our heads off the desk (‘specially at that mid-afternoon slump) and why the rest of us seem to have gone from our energetic 20’s to frazzled and exhausted in our 30’s, 40’s and beyond.
Do we use coffee to get ourselves going in the morning? Are we on a cycle of caffeine in the morning and alcohol in the evening, helping ourselves to wind down? This is a common predicament and not good for sustained energy levels. So where does energy come from?
A quick recap of the biochemistry for us nerds out there! We create energy in our cells. Our mitochondria within our cell nucleus uses nutrients to create energy molecules through a complex and elegant series of steps that result in an output of useable energy by our body cells. Ha! Is your brain hurting yet? So, this means, if we eat the right kind of foods, the body turns it into the right kind of energy and we get to go play with it.
The wrong food is the quick burn food!
Like pouring kerosene on a fire instead of using a large log, certain foods, specifically simple carbohydrates – sugar, refined flours, potatoes, pasta, white rice will give us a quick release of energy in the form of glucose and then a slump as insulin is released to reduce the glucose. Reaching for coffee or other caffeinated drinks is a dead giveaway we are caught in this cycle of short burns and ongoing hypoglycaemia and insulin resistance.
.. is to combine meals and snacks with complex forms of carbohydrate, fibre, good healthy fats and protein to allow for a long slow release of energy which will lead to eating less overall. What do these complex carbs look like? vegetables, fibres like inulin, psyllium, quinoa, buckwheat, sweet potatoes, artichokes, broccoli.
Enter the Glycaemic index, an index of foods listing their quick burn, slow burn capacity. White bread is the reference here and everything else pitted against it. But, use the GI as a guide, not a rule book! Based on that, is sushi really such a great snack? What about all that fruit we love? Putting fibre into our diet will increase our energy, feed our good bacteria, help us lose weight. So how do our gut bugs help our energy levels? How does ancient man compare with our fibre intake?
But there is more, maintaining levels of energy goes beyond good food. It requires the right amount of exercise and movement, sunshine exposure, getting enough quality sleep, staying hydrated, feeling connected with your community and loved ones, having a purpose in life, motivation to greet each day.
When we forgot that we can’t and shouldn’t do it all! I know there will be many of you out there who will be challenged by this. I had to learn from my own health experiences that pushing myself to be the perfect woman is not only impossible but harmful to my health and wellbeing
I teach women in particular:
Breathing techniques, meditation practices, yoga poses will help to restore energy levels faster than a cup of coffee or red bull. A morning mindfulness practice will allow cortisol levels to remain stable during the day and low in the evening encouraging restful sleep.
But it’s important to be gentle. All this takes time and a commitment to self, to learn and to implement.