As we come into spring, there’s generally a sigh of relief that winter is over, there’s more light and generally more warmth too. Hopefully, this also encourages energy levels but with many people suffering from ‘tired all the time’ (TATT) and still lots of nasty bugs floating around, many of us are not feeling our best.
However, there are many dietary changes that you can make to help get your energy levels back on track.
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top nutritional tips for getting ready for spring.
Keep it clean
There’s much written about ‘clean eating’, but what does that actually mean? Essentially, it means eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. The body needs nutrients to fuel its biochemistry which all come from the food we eat. Food is not just about fuelling us: the individual micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – each play an essential role in keeping us well. It makes sense, therefore, that the more nutrients we take in, the better we will feel.
Eating cleanly can take a little more planning, but it’s important to think about each meal as an opportunity to take nutrients on board. If you think about grains, those that haven’t been processed are going to yield far more nutrients than those that have, especially the all-important B-vitamins which provide essential energy. Therefore, avoid anything processed and white such as white rice, white pasta, white bread, and white sugar.
Stay well hydrated
It’s such a simple thing, but it’s one that we often miss. If you’re dehydrated at a cellular level, you’re likely to feel sluggish, plus the brain will not be firing as it should.
Aim to drink around 1.5 – 2 litres of water daily if possible. It’s great to drink fruit and herbal teas but water, perhaps with fresh lemon or ginger, tends to hydrate us better. If you’re doing lots of exercise, then it is even more important to keep well hydrated.
Try to get into the habit of having a glass of water on your desk or taking bottled water with you wherever you go. If you keep sipping throughout the day, it’s amazing how quickly you’ll meet the target.
Cut down on caffeine
Whilst caffeine gives us a quick boost of energy, the rate that energy levels drop afterwards is surprisingly quick, which is why we then reach for another caffeine hit and the cycle continues throughout the day. Essentially, caffeine upsets blood sugar levels which ideally need to be stable throughout the day, rather than rocking and rolling. Over time, if we’re constantly challenging this mechanism, the body tends to feel more and more exhausted.
Try to keep a lid on the caffeinated drinks and limit them to one in the morning and then change to decaf or other drinks through the rest of the day. As your body regulates, you’ll find less reliance on caffeine. Plus, if the body is better nourished generally, energy levels should improve as well.
Feed the inner you
We obviously can’t see what’s going on inside, but we can see and feel the effects of poor nutrition on the outside. The body produces energy in the mitochondria of the cells – think of them as a spark plugs in a car! Clearly our cells need a wide range of nutrients to work efficiently, but one key nutrient is CoQ10 which we can obtain from foods.
Whole grains, organ meats and oily fish are especially rich in C0Q10 so try to include them in your diet regularly. Obviously, energy production is not just about one nutrient which is why it’s important to keep the diet as varied as possible.
Keep it colourful
As a nutritionist, I’m always talking about eating a colourful and varied diet. This is because when there’s more colour on the plate, there are also more nutrients and nutrients mean energy!
Fruits and vegetables are especially rich in nutrients, so do try to include as many different ones as possible throughout the day. They are rich in those all-important B-vitamins which we need for energy, but also vitamin C, also used for energy and keeping the immune system in good shape. How about including some dark berries for breakfast, carrots, peppers and celery at lunchtime and broccoli and sweet potatoes for dinner?
So, get fired up and ready for Spring with some of these energy-giving dietary tips.
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