5 ways to increase your energy levels

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A few simple lifestyle measures can help get your body’s complex energy production systems working optimally

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Quick facts:

  • A nutrient-rich diet and daily exercise can help give you a steady supply of energy
  • If you’ve been feeling constantly tired for more than 4 weeks, talk to your Livi doctor to rule out medical causes

Do be aware however, that if you have felt constantly tired for 2 weeks or more, there might be a medical reason why. Read our article on some of the medical causes of tiredness to find out whether you could benefit from speaking to a doctor about it.

How your body makes energy

In simple terms, the sugars, fats and proteins in the foods and drinks you consume are turned into energy by your body. It does this using a complex system of converting these substances into ‘fuel’ you can use to power through your life.

Certain lifestyle factors — for example, stress, environmental pollution or drinking too much alcohol — can damage this delicate energy production process and lead to lack of energy and fatigue.

The good news is that a few simple healthy changes can support your body’s energy production processes.

1. Eat a nutrient-rich diet

A healthy, balanced diet low in sugar and processed foods is essential to helping maintain your energy levels. Including healthy proteins and complex carbohydrates at each meal for example, will help keep your blood sugar stable so you have a steady supply of energy throughout your day.

Research shows that certain nutrients in particular are also beneficial for energy production. The most important of these include:

  • B vitamins — found in wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruits, beans, lentils, dark-green leafy vegetables, eggs, meat, fish, milk and cheese.
  • Magnesium — good sources include avocados, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, salmon, halibut, mackerel and dark chocolate (more than 70% cocoa).
  • Zinc abundant in chicken, tofu, nuts, seeds, oysters, lentils and oats.
  • Glutathione — found in Brussels sprouts, broccoli, garlic, chives, tomatoes, cucumber, walnuts and almonds.
  • Carnitine — sources include red meat, chicken, milk, fish, beans and avocados.
  • Antioxidants — key antioxidants include vitamin A (found in meat, fish, eggs, yellow and orange fruit and vegetables such as squash, pumpkin, sweet potato), vitamin C (found in all fruit and vegetables but especially citrus fruit, kiwi fruit and strawberries) and vitamin E (found in sunflower seeds, almonds, salmon, avocados, Brazil nuts, trout and hazelnuts).

2. Take care of your gut health

Making sure your intestine is populated with a healthy balance of gut bacteria is crucial to keeping energy levels topped up. A healthy gut enhances the nutrients you absorb from the food you eat, so they’re more available for your body to use for energy.

To help keep your gut healthy, make sure you eat probiotic foods such as kefir, live yoghurt and sauerkraut, which all contain healthy bacteria.

Also, opt for plenty of fibrous vegetables, also known as ‘prebiotic’ foods. These help feed healthy bacteria and include avocados, leeks, asparagus, bananas, onions, garlic and Jerusalem artichokes.

3. Reduce your stress levels

Stress has a detrimental impact on your vitality. A recent review of 23 studies has shown that psychological stress and negative emotional states such as anxiety and depression have an adverse effect on the body’s energy production systems.

Your energy levels will benefit if you can reduce stress by taking up relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga and spending time in nature. These practices work by switching on the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for its essential ‘rest and recharge’ processes. It’s the reason you always feel better after a yoga class!

4. Get enough exercise – especially HIIT training

As we age the energy-generating capacity of our bodies’ cells slowly decreases. But, one way to halt this process is to exercise more.

A new study shows that exercise, in particular high intensity interval training (HIIT), may enhance the body’s energy levels. In HIIT, you carry out a particular exercise such as running, cycling, walking, rowing or resistance training (for example, push-ups, squats and lunges) as fast and hard as you can for a short period, such as 30-60 seconds. Then you rest for another 30-60 seconds and continue in that pattern for 2-20 minutes.

A recent Australian study found that doing HIIT for only 2 minutes a day was as beneficial for your body’s cells as doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise.

5. Get enough sleep

Perhaps most of all, 7-8 hours of restful sleep (if you can manage it) will help you feel refreshed every day. There is no lifestyle measure on earth that can make up for the effects of a lack of sleep, we’re afraid. If insomnia is draining your energy, speak to your Livi doctor about options available.

Remember though, if your tiredness is not relieved by any amount of sleep, there may be a medical cause. So, don’t suffer in silence — talk to your Livi doctor. We can help.

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