An occasional lack of energy is quite common and perfectly natural. You might even consider it the body's way of letting you know that it needs to rest or, at least, slow down for a little while. Persistent feelings of fatigue are usually another story. A chronic, low-energy state can be indicative of many health conditions, including anemia, depression, diabetes, gluten sensitivity and hypothyroidism. So, if you find yourself feeling fatigued often, a good starting point is to get a thorough exam from a health care professional. If, after that, you don’t find an organic or psychological cause for your malaise, you might want to consider these all-natural, energizing remedies.
Several studies attest to the importance of a nutritious breakfast in maintaining energy throughout the day. Ironically, breakfast is frequently skipped by those who need it the most. A recent study involving medical students found that almost 72% engaged in breakfast skipping. This pattern significantly related to feelings of fatigue and poor attention in class.
Similar findings have been reported in children. On the days when elementary students eat breakfast, they’re more "cheerful" and energetic. Also, it’s interesting to note that one trial discovered that eating breakfast benefited cognitive functioning and mood as profoundly as a 200 mg dose of caffeine - equivalent to a strong cup of coffee.
When choosing your type of breakfast, I suggest opting for foods that are rich in protein and low-glycemic carbohydrates. One example would be eggs, chicken sausage with a side of avocado or tomato slices. Or, consider having a smoothie containing pumpkin seed protein, frozen blueberries and coconut milk. Higher protein breakfasts help moderate blood sugar and, thereby, promote stable energy for hours to come. High-glycemic carbohydrates such as fruit juice and refined cereals tend to cause rapid onset fatigue and a lack of hunger satisfaction or satiety.
You Might Be Mildly Dehydrated
Inadequate hydration is another documented cause of fatigue. This is exceedingly well known in the field of athletics. Current research now reveals that even mild dehydration can profoundly affect concentration, fatigue, mood and sleepiness in non-athletes as well.
Fortunately, rehydrating is as simple as adding more pure water to your daily routine. If you don’t like to drink water or if you want to hydrate even more efficiently, you can supplement your diet with coconut water. The key with coconut water, as it pertains to rehydration, is to add a pinch of sea salt. Coconut water is an abundant source of potassium, but it contains virtually no sodium. The latter is lost during heat exposure and perspiration and needs to be replenished through diet and drink. Last, but not least, you can support optimal hydration at mealtime by eating moisture-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and soups.
In traditional Chinese medicine, chicken essence (CE) is considered a medicinal food. Chicken essence, a version of chicken broth, is a veritable tonic that is used for a wide variety of health concerns ranging weak bones and muscles to stress recovery. Modern science now supports some of the health benefits that have long been espoused by traditional healers. Peer-reviewed studies confirm that daily use of CE aids cognitive functioning under fatigue-inducing circumstances. It appears that CE minimizes the deleterious effects of intense "mental workloads" “mental workloads.” CE seems to shield the brain from being overtaken by negative states of mind including anxiety, confusion and depression. If you decide to try CE, I recommend searching online for organic versions of this product. Otherwise, homemade chicken broth is a viable alternative.
Dark Chocolate Pick Me Up
The best kind of natural remedies are those that provide multiple benefits. I like to refer to these as “side benefits” - instead of the more commonly used term, “side effects”. Eating small amounts of dark chocolate daily- about 2 ounces - improves blood flow to the brain.
This may explain why some research reports a reduction in fatigue in regular cocoa eaters. What’s more, this anti-fatigue effect is powerful enough to improve symptomatology in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Additionally, dark chocolate decreases stress reactivity. The less you respond to stress, the more energy you’ll have for other activities. Just be sure to choose your chocolate carefully as some brands are high in heavy metals, sugar and low in actual cocoa content. For this reason, I always look for non-alkalized, dark chocolate bars that contain a minimum of 70% or more cocoa.
John Paul Fanton, based in Los Angeles, California, is a consultant, researcher and writer with over 20 years of experience in the field of natural medicine. He designs unique nutritional plans, mind-body (meditation, mindfulness, etc.) and vitamin/supplement programs for individual clients who are interested in improving overall health, weight and wellness. You can find his weekly column on the Healthy Fellow.
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