As winter approaches, so do the shorter days, leaving many of us feeling increasingly lethargic and in need of an energy boost. Fatigue is a huge problem for many over the colder months. Concerned you're suffering with tiredness? Power Health Nutritionist Sarah Flower shares her top tips on how to boost energy levels enabling you to keep your Joie de vivre this winter.
1. Herbal healing
"In Chinese medicine, Ginseng is known as an all-healing herb; thought to improve with cognitive function, memory, energy levels, and mood. Panax Korean ginseng, specifically, is effective in boosting energy. Opt for a high quality ginseng."
NetDoctor's in-house pharmacist Rita Ghelani says:
"Ginseng is readily available in pharmacies and it well recognised as a supplement to help with cognitive performance (alertness) and reducing fatigue. It is thought to work by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin. I would be happy to recommend it to someone who said that they needed help to increase energy levels."
2. Drink up
"We often confuse hunger and thirst. Dehydration can make us tired, lethargic and can trigger headaches, especially when in a central heated room all day with little fresh air. Keeping hydrated can help your body work more efficiently, aid the transportation of nutrients and help maintain our energy levels."
3. Eat well
"Comfort eating and 'carb-loading' are both very common in the winter months, so try to be mindful of your food choices. Limit the amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates you consume as these can initially boost energy but will then leave you feeling even more fatigued as your blood sugar drops. Keep your blood sugar balanced by opting for a diet rich in low GI complex carbohydrates, good protein and healthy fats.
"Opt for nutrient-rich foods especially B-vitamins, including B12, such as nuts, yeast extract, eggs, liver, beef, sardines, wheat germ, brown rice, recommended in times of fatigue, low energy, stress and depression."
4. Don't be afraid of oils
"Fish oils can help to reduce the production of adrenal hormones, which directs energy and resources away from activities such as digestion and reproduction, and towards the heart and limb muscles. The adrenals also release cortisol as part of your stress response, which is involved in blood sugar regulation, blood pressure regulation, immune responses and inflammation processes. Over stimulation of the adrenals can lead to chronic fatigue. Omega 3 fish oils are known to both relieve stress and anxiety and to regulate inflammation."
5. Get outside and exercise
"Whether you prefer a short walk on your lunch break or a run at your local park, getting outside and moving can help to boost mood and reduce stress. A brisk walk is also shown to boost energy, reduce blood pressure and lift mood. Getting outside should also help to top up your vitamin D from sunlight exposure. However, it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure in the winter months so a daily D3 supplement is recommended."
6. Good quality sleep
"Sleep is the body's way of repairing, restoring and regulating itself. Using electrical devices such as a phone or tablet before sleep can impede production of melatonin making it harder to get a good night's sleep. The hormone cortisol can also build up through stress, anxiety and late nights. Aim to be fully asleep by midnight, so that cortisol levels can dip to their lowest between then and 4am."
7. Blood tests
"If you're still struggling with fatigue, despite a good diet and sleep, you may need to have a blood test to check your levels of iron, B12, thyroid and adrenal function. Speak to your doctor to help rule out any health issues."
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