By Dr. Deedra Rae Mason, Director of Clinical Education & Research
Have you ever felt tired or sluggish after a rushed meal? Ever feel you just can’t keep motivated by the middle of the afternoon? Ever feel like if you could just take a break or a breather, it would be all the recharge you need?
These are common reactions to being over-stressed, over-worked, and hyper-stimulated without any of the nutritional and environmental support you and your metabolism need to keep going each day. Glucose is your body’s main energy source, yet your ability to use it properly for energy relies on a balance of select amino acids, micronutrients and healthy and regular physical activity. A healthy diet is a key to maintaining healthy blood glucose levels and therefore energy levels. Unfortunately, our typical Western diets are high in refined, processed foods loaded with simple carbohydrates, or sugars. These simple sugars are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, making what felt like a natural energy surge a slippery slope into afternoon fatigue, poor mental focus and a quest for more sugar and empty calories.
If this sounds like you, you’re hardly alone. With today’s ultra-busy lifestyles it’s not surprising that a person can suffer from sensory and sugar overload. While virtually everyone today accepts that it is normal to live with some form of stress — and the resulting fatigue — do they know how profoundly that stress and fatigue is affecting their health?
Here are some steps you can take to offset fatigue and potential resulting health challenges:
• Consider adding some stretching to your day and also periodically getting up from your desk to move around. One way to increase productivity and ward off the “ZZZs” includes working in set time blocks and getting up and moving around before starting again on a project.
• Make sure you are getting good sleep. Consider a scientifically based botanical formula to assist with healthy sleep cycles and healthy neurotransmitter production. A balance between dopamine and serotonin can be helpful to support a regular sleep cycle. Amino acids like L-tyrosine and taurine can benefit you by keeping your energy cycles up when they should be up and sleep cycles regular when you should be winding down.
• Regular use of supplements can support your body’s physiologic demands for energy. Essential nutrients like niacinamide and vitamins B-12 and B-6 play a role in carbohydrate and protein metabolism for healthy energy and support of healthy blood glucose levels.
The above steps can offer you the foundation for a better energy throughout the day. If you’re simply looking for that quick afternoon boost, consider the source. Be wary of taking just caffeine in the absence of balancing amino acids and B-vitamins. Without their support, caffeine can dehydrate you and increase stress levels over time. Amino acids like taurine help keep you alert when coffee and sugary drinks alone cannot. Taurine boosts mental alertness and enhances the ability to concentrate, while also meeting our muscles’ energy needs. Using taurine instead of sugar can mean improved mental and physical reaction time — a life saver during a long project or meeting. Both stress and long hours can affect our moods. The essential amino acid L-tyrosine has an antidepressant activity that helps the brain to restore proper amounts of the catecholamines dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These are often lost due to stress on the body’s adrenal system from a poor diet, an unhealthy lifestyle or other environmental factors. Additionally, ingredients like B-vitamins keep you energized throughout the day, providing long-lasting physical and mental energy you demand, and work well with caffeine for thermogenesis and energy metabolism.
Supporting detoxification can keep us feeling energized and eliminate that “sluggish” feeling common after too much sugar or simple carbohydrates. Glucuronolactone is a natural is a substance which works with the liver to boost energy and has been reported to detoxify the body of impurities. Consider looking for a healthful blend of amino acids and B vitamins to balance a measured amount of caffeine. Doing so can be just the remedy to avoid a mid-afternoon crash.