Fatigue fighters

Need a bit of a lift? These natural energy boosters could do the trick...

Feeling tired and lethargic? Step away from the coffee machine! There are a whole host of natural energy boosters that can help to blow away the cobwebs – and they’re much better for your health than a double espresso.

Ditch the caffeine and sugar

“A well-balanced, healthy diet is essential for high energy levels,” says leading nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville, (www.marilynglenville.com), author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar. “Skipping breakfast, not drinking enough water, over eating, dieting, eating on the run, consumption of caffeine and alcohol, and eating a lot of refined, processed foods are the major causes of low energy levels. Caffeine and sugar may give you an instant hit but they’ll leave you feeling tired and depleted in the long-run. A healthy, balanced diet is crucial as nutritional deficiencies can trigger fatigue and you could also benefit from supplementing with a daily multivitamin and mineral, especially one that contains vitamin B12 which is known to boost energy. Not drinking enough can make you feel tired, stressed and irritable,” adds Dr Glenville. “Stay hydrated by drinking between six and eight cups of water a day; more if you exercise or sweat a lot. Herbal teas and diluted fruit juices are also great.”

Get some outdoor exercise

“Just a single exercise bout has been shown to tackle a temporary negative mood state and produce an uplifting effect,” says Dean Hodgkin, a fitness expert with Ragdale Hall and Energie Group. “The combination of cardio, strength and flexibility training is the most effective recipe for boosting your positive energy levels. A review carried out by a team at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, published in the research journal Environmental Science and Technology, found that exercising outdoors showed an improvement in mental wellbeing compared with exercising indoors. Exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalisation and increased energy.”

Balance your blood sugar levels

If you constantly feel tired and crave starchy, sweet or fatty foods, this can indicate a blood sugar imbalance. In order to keep your blood sugar levels steady, Dr Glenville recommends eating every three hours and loading up on low glycaemic foods such as seafood, eggs, hummus, green vegetables and fruits such as pears, grapes and apples. She adds: “Go for a healthy breakfast that will keep your blood sugar levels balanced and so that you have a sustained supply of energy in the morning ahead. Try a bowl of oat porridge with some ground nuts or seeds sprinkled on the top or scrambled or poached eggs on wholemeal toast with mushrooms and tomatoes.”

For lunch, Dr Glenville recommends choosing protein-rich foods such as tuna or mackerel, pulses and beans, tofu or quorn. “Protein will help boost concentration and beat the afternoon energy slump,” she explains. “Add some slow-release carbohydrates, such as a whole grain roll or whole wheat pasta, and finish with some fruit to give you the best possible chance of staying focused and energetic in the afternoon.” Follow the same rule at dinner time, with some slow-release carbohydrates like brown rice or whole wheat pasta, combined with some vegetables and some healthy protein such as oily fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.

Harness the power of aromatherapy

“Whether you are dealing with frequently occurring tiredness, long-term fatigue or occasional lack of energy and enthusiasm – using 100 per cent natural essential oils can really help,” says Joannah Metcalfe, consultant aromatherapist with Base Formula (www.baseformula.com). Joannah recommends the following blends, but advises seeing a qualified therapist for more long-term issues.

  • Can’t get going in the mornings? Vaporise two drops of peppermint essential oil, three of lime and three of rosemary. These refreshing oils will enliven your senses and naturally stimulate your brain activity.
  • Going out and need to revive your energy levels at the end of a long, tiring day? Enjoy a refreshing and revitalising shower with 15ml of fragrance-free shower gel, one drop of ginger essential oil, one of black pepper, two of rosemary and three of bergamot.
  • To revive tired, sore, stiff muscles, massage affected areas (in an upwards direction) with 30ml of grapeseed oil, two drops of clary sage, two of eucalyptus, two of plai, three of cedarwood and six of lavender.

Practise some yogic breathing

“A regular yoga practice and pranayama practice (breathing exercises) can be incredibly beneficial for boosting energy levels,” says Natasha Moutran from The Retreat Collection (www.theretreatcollection.com). “These practices help to improve the functioning of the respiratory system, allowing your body and brain to get more oxygen, which in turn keeps you more awake and energised. They can also improve circulation and organ function, such as digestion, which can help to increase energy significantly as your body is able to get more nutrition from your food and therefore more energy from what you eat.”

Dean Hodgkin suggests the following yogic breathing exercise, which is designed specifically to increase energy before attempting a tricky pose. “With the mouth closed, inhale slowly through the nose. Then close the glottis, by lifting the back of the tongue to the roof of your mouth, and exhale again through the nose. Focus on listening to the noise and feeling the vibration that is generated.”

Try some herbal healing

“Some of the best herbs for the long-term restoration of energy levels are the medicinal mushrooms,” explains medical herbalist Stuart FitzSimons (www.plantasmagorical.com). “Perhaps the best examples are Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) and Cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis). The former has a reputation as an energy enhancer and physical tonic which dates back over 4,000 years. The latter was first recorded in writing around 1,500 years ago and, again, it was the tonic and energy-enhancing aspects of the herb that were highlighted. Both herbs contain many polysaccharide chemicals, such as the beta glucans, which have been shown to be the most powerful immune stimulants on the planet. Low immunity – and, consequently, low energy levels – can occur as a result of too much stress on a daily basis, thanks to the stress hormone cortisol. So, in short, when our immune systems are firing properly the rest of us does too! These herbs are widely available nowadays in the form of tinctures, teas and capsules.”

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