In an ideal world, we would wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, recharged and full of energy – in reality, a significant number of us drag ourselves out of bed feeling like we haven’t slept at all!
If we look at the body clock used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), certain organs “take charge” of our energy at specific hours of the day, and symptoms experienced during those hours may indicate that the related organ is functioning sub-optimally.
For example, the liver works mostly between the hours of 1am and 3am, and so if you are someone who frequently wakes around this time, this could be a sign that your liver is over-burdened. Our body performs vital functions whilst we sleep, but if our liver is not functioning optimally, then the body will use its valuable energy reserves trying to reduce this burden.
Expending energy on clearing out toxins, be it environmental, dietary or hormonal, means our body will divert energy away from recharging our energy batteries. This has a huge impact on the quality of our sleep and leaves us feeling fatigued and lethargic in the morning. Therefore supporting our livers could be key to ensuring that we wake feeling refreshed.
This is where the addition of quality nutrients can really make a difference, particularly where these nutrients support detoxification pathways. Cruciferous vegetables, leeks, onion, garlic and root vegetables are all great choices. Nutrient-dense Chlorella is known to bind to heavy metals in the body, ready to be safely eliminated, and so including this incredible superfood in your diet is a fantastic way to support your liver. Try blending chlorella with herbs and nuts for pesto with a twist.
It is well known that B vitamins are vital to energy production in the body, but work stress, poor quality sleep and illness can use up your store of B vitamins fast. Whilst it is practically impossible to eliminate all stress from our lives, there are many things we can do to reduce the impact on our bodies. Gentle exercise can do wonders, but be sure that it is gentle as strenuous exercise for an already stressed body can exacerbate the problem. Fitting in a post-exercise green smoothie with maca can be a brilliant way to up your intake of b vitamins, and in adding hemp powder, you’ll get the added benefit of protein too.
If getting to sleep is a problem, increasing your intake of magnesium could be a simple solution. Magnesium is a crucial mineral responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including energy production. Poor quality soil in which our produce is grown and poor eating habits can lead to an inadequate intake of magnesium, which could have a massive impact on your energy and functioning of the nervous system.
Foods high in magnesium are a great way to help us relax. Not only is this great for those of us who feel too “wired” to sleep, it can also relieve symptoms associated with the nervous system, such as tension headaches and muscular cramp. In addition to this, as magnesium is involved in reactions which produce energy, so increasing our magnesium intake can also make us feel energised.
Chocolate and cocoa products are a great source of magnesium, so if you sometimes crave chocolate then it is quite possible your body is telling you to increase your intake of magnesium! Whilst it’s not advisable to consume too much chocolate before bed due to the caffeine content, hemp protein is a great addition to your evening meal and contains plenty of magnesium. Alternatively, try Epsom salt baths before bed, as magnesium is absorbed well through the skin, and the bath itself is sure to have you feeling relaxed and ready for bed. It’s also great for soothing muscles post-exercise!
Often when we feel tired and in need of instant rejuvenation we instinctively reach towards coffee. High doses of caffeine contained within coffee cause a spike in our blood sugar levels which we experience as “energy”. This energy however, does not come from thin air, it is in fact our own energy given to us in a concentrated dose. The feeling quickly dissipates and is unfortunately replaced by an energy slump – which is the point at which we’re reaching for another coffee!
As sugar stores are released from our livers, obtaining energy in this way is not ideal if we’re trying to reduce liver stress. If we choose healthier alternatives to coffee, we could see our energy levels soar, although be careful to cut back gradually to avoid classic detox headaches. Try using Naturya choc blend (which incidentally contains a good dose of B-vitamin rich maca) to create a healthy hot chocolate. If you’re handy with the blender, Naturya green blend or fruit blend are a delicious addition to smoothies, that are also packed with energy-boosting nutrients such as vitamin B12 and manganese. Blend with coconut water (and fruit of your choice) to include essential electrolytes sodium and potassium.
As coffee is well known to be dehydrating, having a hydrating, nutrient-dense smoothie instead is sure to have you looking and feeling your best!