Energy production is complex. It involves many chemical interactions but the solutions may be simple. Here are five simple ways to keep energy levels high in the comfort of your own home:
1. Keep moving!
A recent study* on both young and older adults looked at the effects of inactivity. It found that even two weeks of less physical activity had many negative effects. Both young and old gained some fatty tissue and lost some muscle tone during the study. In older people reduced physical activity also affected energy production and cardio-respiratory fitness, in other words, the amount of oxygen reaching their heart, and the amount of energy produced by their cells. It does seem that the older you are, the more important it is to keep yourself moving. There are so many easy ways to do this. Even short sessions of gentle movement will help circulation, blood flow and cellular energy production.
If you are working from home, try to move more during the day: do a few star jumps as you make your way from the kitchen to the living room; dance your way to the bathroom or jog on the spot whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. The cat may eye you with caution but you’ll feel better for it.
2. Dial up some D
Our skin manufactures vitamin D from sunshine. We need it to make healthy bones, teeth and muscles. It is essential for our immune system and for energy production.
Dietary sources of vitamin D include fortified foods such as cereals, oily fish and egg yolks. With holidays to far flung, sun-drenched destinations on hold for the moment, a vitamin D supplement will help to keep levels topped up.
3. Eat right for energy
A diet that is full of quick-release carbohydrates like white pasta and white bread, caffeinated drinks and sweets, can make you tired during the day. When you tuck into your pain au chocolat and coffee in the morning, you immediately feel the pick-me-up-effect. The caffeine, starch and sugar in your breakfast are all fast-releasing. Your energy levels rise; you feel good for a while. But as the hours pass, that sudden spike of energy can drop making you feel tired and sleepy, and it won’t be long before you’ll be craving that sweet fix or caffeinated high again.
Slow-release energy foods such as wholegrains, protein-rich foods and caffeine-free drinks will give you energy for longer. Peanut butter on wholemeal toast or porridge oats will put a more sustaining spring in your step instead of that French pastry.
4. Drink more water
If your lips are often cracked and dry, and your pee is a darker shade of yellow, you are probably not drinking the recommended daily intake of 1.5 litres of water a day. To help keep you on track, your urine should be pale yellow or look like water. Up to 60% of the human body is made up of water. The brain, vital organs and muscles contain even more than that. Even slight dehydration will cause body tissue to lose fluid and function less well, causing tiredness, poor concentration and dry eyes.
5. Mind your minerals
Minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, are essential for turning the food you eat into energy. Unprocessed meat, grains, vegetables, fish and other healthy foods are rich in minerals. Magnesium is necessary for energy metabolism and normal muscle function. Extra magnesium in the diet can help with tiredness and fatigue. It can also improve sleep quality and relax tense, sore muscles. Good food sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, meat, dairy products, whole grain rice and bread.
Potassium contributes to normal muscle function. You may be low on this if you eat a lot of salt and processed foods. Look to turkey, fish, nuts, seeds, bananas, beans and shellfish for food sources of potassium.
Calcium is important for bone health (along with vitamin D, magnesium and exercise), and also energy metabolism and muscle function. Good food sources include dairy products, sardines, green leafy vegetables, tofu, nuts and many fortified foods.
Still need an energy boost? A.Vogel’s Balance Mineral Drink is a strawberry-flavoured powdered mineral drink designed to help fight fatigue and tiredness. It contains magnesium, zinc, potassium, calcium and vitamin D, which makes it great at reducing fatigue, improving energy and replacing electrolytes.