Posted on August 5, 2010 -
When we go looking for ways to increase our energy, it’s good to remember the old adage: “There is no such thing as a free lunch”. That cup of coffee, can of soda, cigarette or ephedrine pill will give you temporary energy, but you will pay for it later. This is because stimulants steal energy from elsewhere in your body, particularly from your adrenals. Here are some tips to help you increase your energy in a healthful way.
Exercise: Physical exercise, when done in moderation, decreases the body’s production of adrenaline in response to stress, and increases energy by improving the use of oxygen and nutrients in the body. But remember to not overdo it. It may have been that very act that caused adrenal exhaustion in the first place.
Relax: Relaxation lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, bringing us into a state opposite to the stress response. Learning relaxation techniques before finding yourself in the middle of stressful living is your best defense, but even if your life is currently out of control, it’s never too late. Try biofeedback, breathing exercises, meditation, prayer, self-hypnosis or visualization. They are all powerful and proven methods for reducing stress. Regular massage or bodywork can also induce relaxation that lasts well beyond the treatment. Yoga, aikido and tai chi can raise beta-endorphin levels in the body (the feel good hormones) in just 30 minutes.
Take a nap: Mid after-noon is when your blood sugar levels normally decline, and when many people naturally crave coffee or sweets. This time, between 1 and 4 pm, is traditional siesta time in many countries. If you are able to nap for 15 or 30 minutes, do so. You’ll wake up refreshed and ready to go.
Quit the coffee: Even one cup of coffee can whip your adrenals into a state of exhaustion, so if you’re suffering from weak adrenals, it’s imperative that you find an alternative. The most powerful energizing beverage next to coffee, without the side effects, is the South American herb Yerba Mate. Green and black teas are also good choices. A variety of herbal teas can energize you while supporting your adrenals. These include ginseng, ginger, licorice, peppermint and lemon. In fact, even just the fragrances of lemon and peppermint are uplifting and energizing. Licorice is especially good for the adrenals, but may be contraindicated in the case of high blood pressure.
Take a shower: A shower can be a quick energizer, if you do it correctly. Alternating one minute with cold water, with one minute of hot water (always ending on cold), will dramatically increase your circulation, bringing the blood to the surface and then sending it to the organ systems, in effect recharging them.
Get enough sleep: We should get a minimum of eight hours sleep a night to feel rested. According to the ancient teachings of Ayurvedic medicine, body cycles indicate that the most important time to sleep is between 10 pm and 6 am. This is when the body is programmed to slow down and repair itself.
Listen to music: Music can be energizing, especially music with a fast tempo. A recent study on athletes showed that the best performance enhancement came from athletes who worked out with music with a slow beat that progressed to a faster beat.
Soak up the sun: Be sure to get at least one hour of outside daylight everyday. Exposure to the sun is essential to balancing melatonin (a hormone that regulates your circadian rhythms and sleep cycles). Melatonin deficiency can also lead to depression, poor concentration, impaired immune function and reduced sex drive. A little known fact is that exposure to electro-magnetic fields will disrupt the body’s production of melatonin. The worst culprits are computers, electric cash registers, electric blankets and clock radios. We need at least four feet between them and us to be out of the field of influence.
Eat a healthy diet: A good diet is essential to adrenal health. This means avoiding stimulants like coffee or ephedrine, refined sugars (including honey, maple syrup and fruit juices), and refined carbohydrates (breads, pastas, pastries, white rice and white potatoes). Eat on a regular basis, with healthy snacks in between (whole fruit, nuts, seed etc.) and with an emphasis on protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates (whole grains, yams and sweet potatoes). Try to eat four to six small meals or snacks everyday to help keep blood sugar levels balanced. Taking a chromium supplement can help this process tremendously.
Vitamins: Certain nutrients are extremely important for adrenal health. These include vitamin. C, B-6, magnesium, and zinc. Take 500 to 1000mg of vitamin C, a good multi-vitamin that contains at least 20 to 30mg of B-6 (along with all the other B vitamins) and 15 (for women) to 30 mg (for men) of zinc. Average about 400 to 500mg of magnesium per day between food and supplements. If you’re trying to repair worn-out adrenals, the addition of extra vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid) at about 250mg three times per day is important.
Adaptogens: Supplements that help us adapt to stress by normalizing and supporting our adrenals are called adaptogens. Various herbs are known adaptogens, which include American and Siberian Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Schizandra and Fo Ti. Use a high quality adaptogen like Adrenal Start or any other good adrenal support on the market. (Beware of adrenal supports that stimulate the adrenals to work harder, as that’s what caused them to be exhausted in the first place. An adaptogen supports the adrenals in their rest and recovery, rather than stimulating them.)