You know the feeling – a heavy head, yawning, irritability, ready to fall asleep in a moment, or climbing a flight of stairs feels like a mountain. Too often, it is all blamed on aging, but there is much more to it. Blood sugar stability, sleep quality, mitochondrial dynamics, blood flow and oxygenation all affect energy levels. Here are four important things to address to help maximize your energy.
1. Blood Sugar Stability
Blood sugar stability is critical for keeping your energy going. If you feel better after you eat, then low or erratic blood sugar levels are likely impacting your energy.
Additional signs of low blood sugar or instability may include irritability, anxiety, poor focus and concentration, mental fatigue, physical fatigue and weakness, shakiness, panicky feelings, temper tantrums and meltdowns. You can see or even predict the irritability, crashes, or meltdowns in your toddler, teenager, spouse, elderly parent, or even yourself when food is needed.
Blood sugar management is impacted by imbalanced dietary patterns and poor food quality. Other factors like stress and cortisol, leptin and insulin resistance, poor quality sleep, shift work and altered circadian rhythms, sedentary lifestyles, excessive physical activity, fatty liver congestion, food intolerances and allergies, gut inflammation, and more impact blood sugar regulation. To help manage these concerns, get your day off to a great start with breakfast and watch your meal timing through the day!
General Principles for Meals
Twenty-first century dietary patterns range across the board. Skipping meals, grazing, extreme fasting, keto diets, or other trending diets may not provide the best results long-term as they can hamper circadian and body clock rhythms, as well as limit nutrients and diversity of foods.
Meal timing, along with food quality and variety are critical factors for blood sugar management, energy production, and overall metabolism. The Five Rules of The Leptin Diet, with three meals per day, help entrain your circadian rhythms and body clocks that support blood sugar, insulin, and leptin management and stability, energy, and fat burning. Consume 400-700 calories of nutrient dense foods at each meal. Athletes and those with special medical needs may require different management.
Here are some general guidelines.
Protein: Have 15-25 grams of protein at each meal for a total of 50-80 grams per day. Higher amounts may be needed if you are an athlete or recovering from trauma or illness.
Complex unrefined carbohydrates: Have 1-3 servings per day. Good carbs include foods like quinoa, legumes, and oats. Reduce or eliminate high starch and foods made with white enriched flour. Choose non-GMO, gluten-free whole grains for healthier choices. Gluten, which is found in white flour and wheat, rye, and barley products, along with high starch foods can lead to blood sugar crashes and stress your energy and mood.
Fats and Oils: Small amount of fats and oils with each meal help satiety. Organic butter, coconut, olive oil, sesame, walnut, flax, chia seeds, sardines, avocado, and raw or dry roasted seeds and nuts provide healthy fats. Avoid highly processed vegetable oils as the American diet contains an overabundance. Some saturated fat is okay.
Fruits and Vegetables: Consume at least 5-9 servings or more of fruits and vegetables per day. The Standard American Diet falls short of this intake. You can do it! It is easier than you think!
Nutritional support to consider for blood sugar management includes Daily Protein Plus, Fiber Helper, Cinnamon Plus, Gluco Plus, LeptiSlim, Leptinal, Super Coenzyme B Complex and GI & Muscle Helper.
Adequate, blissful slumber is so vital to health, yet at least 35% of American adults fail to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation or poor quality sleep for even one night impacts your mood, focus, and energy for the next day. Missing 1-1½ hours of sleep for one night was shown to decrease daytime alertness up to an astonishing 32 percent.
Specialized brain imaging in healthy adults showed that one night of sleep deprivation resulted in a significant increase in amyloid-beta protein buildup in the hippocampus and thalamus. This was associated with worsening mood.
A recent study evaluated healthy teenagers who underwent five days of sleep deprivation with staying up 2½ hours longer than normal each night. After the sleep deprivation, teens rated themselves with “significantly” more anxiety, tension, anger/hostility, confusion, and fatigue.
Both teens and their parents reported greater irritability and opposition, as well as worse emotional regulation in the teens with sleep deprivation. Ask any parent of teenagers or younger children how things go when kids are sleep deprived.
Sleep deprivation also affects your blood sugar regulation, which contributes to more fatigue and craving of junk food. Even one night of disrupted sleep reduces insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation.
One way to offset this effect is high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise. HIIT has been shown to compensate for the acute negative responses of sleep deprivation on metabolism. HIIT exercise activates your mitochondria, which offsets the stress responses caused by occasional sleep deprivation.
More information may be found at HIIT: The New Way to Exercise
Tips for Blissful Slumber:
Stop screen time 2-3 hours before bed. Choose other relaxing activities like reading a book or taking a warm bath to help wind down. Avoid stressful conversations and exercise before bed.
Establish good sleep hygiene routines. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. If you nap, keep it short with a powernap. Anything longer than 30-90 minutes (pending on age) can leave you feeling groggy and out of sync until the next day unless you are ill or exhausted.
Use nutritional support to aid restful sleep. Customer favorites include RelaxaMag, Tri-Cal, Sleep Helper, and Melatonin.
Also see these sleep articles:
Taming the Mind at Night: Help for Insomnia
Minerals Needed for Quality Sleep
Mitochondrial Health and Sleep Apnea – Digging Deeper
Top 7 Supplements for Stress Resiliency, Sleep, and Mood
3. Mitochondria, Your Cellular Engines
Mitochondrial health is critical for energy, as they are the powerhouse for ATP production. They also contribute to or are affected by numerous other processes like blood sugar, adrenals and thyroid, muscles, exercise tolerance, detoxification, etc. that affect mental and physical vitality and energy.
Mitochondria are organelles inside all cells except red blood cells. There are an estimated 1,000 – 2,500 mitochondria per cell, which takes up to 25 percent of cell volume. Mitochondria produce ATP, which cannot be stored so it must be consistently produced by your mitochondria 24/7. The amount of ATP power that mitochondria produce in a healthy adult equates to 1,200 watts.
Mitochondria are highly sensitive to free radicals. They are injured as a result of oxidative stress, lack of antioxidants and nutrients, sedentary lifestyle, high fat/sugar diet, excess stress, illness, medications, toxins, alcohol, and more. This leads to symptoms of aging and a breakdown of health.
Fatigue, graying hair, hair loss, muscle weakness and fatigue, wrinkles, difficulty with mood, cognitive sharpness, hearing, vision, balance, blood sugar, and aging, etc. reflect a decline in mitochondrial performance.
Mitochondria need several nutrients and antioxidants to function and deal with stress. A balanced, diverse whole foods diet is critical to feed and protect your mitochondria. A lack of one or more nutrients impairs mitochondrial function, which lends to fatigue, metabolic issues and aging faster.
Fundamental nutrients for mitochondria include B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, amino acids, minerals like zinc, copper, iron, selenium, magnesium. Mitochondria need antioxidants like coenzyme Q10, PQQ, resveratrol, grape seed extract, glutathione, fisetin, carnosine, NAC, quercetin, turmeric, and others to protect against free radical damage.
Blood flow through arteries, veins, and capillaries also greatly impact your energy status. Good circulation is needed to bring oxygen and nutrients to organs, cells, and mitochondria and move waste products out.
Sufficient nutrients are necessary to help red blood cells move oxygen throughout your entire body and remove metabolic waste. With diminished circulation, fatigue, lethargy, brain fog and reduced exercise tolerance can occur.
If you feel cold, sluggish, and yawn a lot, or need to have a window open much of the time, your oxygen and circulation management might need support. Exercise and movement are important for circulation, but nutrients are also needed.
Iron, zinc and copper, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folate, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and fish oils and other nutrients are required for red blood cells to carry oxygen to tissues and be flexible during their travel through vessels. Work with your provider for proper evaluation if you have a history of anemia or poor circulation.
Before you resort to the next pot of coffee or brace yourself for the next meltdown, think about your health and of those around you. Does diet and blood sugar management need some work? How about sleep? Dig a bit deeper into resolving issues and support your mitochondria and circulation, too.
Change your diet to incorporate nutrient dense foods at least 80 percent of the time. Optimize nutritional status, as it is difficult to get enough with 21st Century lifestyles and toxins. Get enough quality sleep and do some HIIT exercise several times per week. These simple things can be a profound energy game changer!