What type of person are you?
- Are you bursting at the seams - full of beans, the minute your eyes pop open?
- Do you spring into action after lunch, ready for complex arithmetic and whatnot?
- Are you tired all the time?
- The minute you hit the sofa do you nod off? Is this maybe a standing joke in your family?!
Energy production is complex. It involves many chemical interactions but the solution may be simple.
Keep moving - Use it or lose it.
A recent trial1 on both young and older adults looked at the effects of inactivity. They 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 it also affected energy production and their cardiorespiratory 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. You will feel better almost immediately!
If you are now working from home and don't have to commute, try to use this time to move about more during the day. Do a few star jumps as you make your way from the kitchen to the livingroom.
If you are at home with the kids or the cat, amuse yourselves by having a kitchen disco.
The internet is full of gems. Find a workout you like and do it at home.
Housework, gardening and DIY will keep you active and improve your home environment.
While waiting for the kettle to boil do a few sit-ups.
While brushing your teeth it's easy to fit in a few lunges.
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.
It's quite difficult to find good food sources of vitamin D; fortified food and oily fish are the main ones. A winter sun holiday may have topped up your levels, but only temporarily, and not if you were covered in sun block. It's been a long winter.
The NHS2 recommend that vulnerable people take a vitamin D supplement from October to the end of March/April. The recommended amount is about 10 ug/mcg or 400 iu for most adults.
Talk to your GP if you think you are deficient in vitamin D and check out the recommended guidelines.
Some foods can make you sleepy. Have you have ever felt (or always feel!) sleepy during the day? A diet that is full of 'energising' foods may be the cause. Caffeinated drinks, and quick-releasing carbohydrates like white pasta and white bread are good examples. Let's not even mention the fizzies and the sweeties.
When you tuck into your pan 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. As the hours pass, that sudden spike of energy can drop making you tired and sleepy. You'll be craving that sweet fix or caffeinated high again.
Try eating slow-release energy foods: wholegrains, protein-rich foods and caffeine-free drinks. Try peanut butter on wholemeal toast or porridge oats instead of your French pastry.
Drink more water.
Are your lips often cracked and dry? What colour is your pee? It should be look like pale yellow water or just like water. Do you drink 1.5 litres of water a day? 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. Symptoms include tiredness, poor concentration, dry mouth, lips and eyes. During illness or in a vulnerable person, dehydration can be dangerous.
So drink more water, it's free, and will make you more energetic. Your lips will stop looking like a discarded scrunchie.
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 – 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 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. Good food sources include – turkey, fish, nuts, seeds bananas, beans and shellfish.
Calcium – bone health (along with vitamin D, magnesium and exercise), but it is also important for energy metabolism and muscle function. Good food sources include – dairy products, sardines, green leafy vegetables, tofu, nuts and many fortified foods.
Other things to consider.
Please don't forget to get enough sleep, as this will surely make you tired!
Wine and other forms of alcohol will deplete your energy by making your busy liver work harder, and by dehydrating you.
Have a positive attitude – You can make a difference to your energy levels; give yourself small, achievable goals and keep up the good work.
Try A.Vogel's Balance Drink – it's a strawberry-flavoured mineral drink designed to help fight fatigue and tiredness.