How to Have More Energy
The first thing to understand in our relentless pursuit of more energy is why we loose it in the first place. Fatigue is a primary symptom of toxicity. Reversing toxicity, by undergoing a detox program, will lead to more energy. Detoxification liberates the body from an excess workload imposed on the body's organs, primarily on the liver. When this overload is relieved, it allows every part of the body to function more effectively, which leads to the feeling we call energy.
The second thing to understand about having better energy is that every quick energy boost inevitably ends in a fall. Caffiene products and energy drinks may make you feel energized for 20 minutes, but they steal this extra energy from your adrenals and ultimately create a net loss of energy. There's good news, though. There are many healthy ways to boost your energy, both short-term and long-term. Ideally, we want -- and can have -- a higher consistent overall energy level that is not prone to ups and downs.
Tips for More Energy
If you're basically healthy, and not more than 30 pounds overweight, not pregnant or nursing, fasting can be very helpful. Otherwise, we don't really advocate quick fixes because we don't believe most people are prepared to undergo the major, if temporary, discomforts, that rapid detox can bring. Our first suggestion is to learn How to Detox. But if you want the shorthand version, here are some suggestions:
- Begin your morning with a simple deep breathing exercise. 5 - 10 long deep breaths will fuel your brain and muscles with oxygen. For optimal results, repeat this breathing exercise every few hours throughout your day.
- If you rely on coffee as an energy source, trade it in for Yerba Mate. Mate contains caffeine-like compounds that provide an energy boost similar to that of coffee, but without the caffeine. Although there is no scientific study to back this up, there is a great deal of anectodal evidence which suggests that the energy boost of Yerba Mate is less jagged and lasts longer than the energy boost that coffee provides.
- Don't skip breakfast. You have been fasting all night, and your body needs fuel to get you through your morning.
- Reduce your exposure to toxins. For more information on sources of toxins and how to avoid them, see Toxic Environments.
- More water, less soda, and no energy drinks! If it's clear, it's cleansing. Increase the amount of water you drink to 8 to 10 glasses of pure water per day or more. Additional water is the easiest and cheapest way to improve your body's detoxification processes. While energy drinks may offer an initial (and perhaps pleasant) buzz, the inevitable crash leaves you in worse shape than when you went for the quick energy boost they promise.
- Reduce or eliminate junk food and anything whose most abundant ingredient is sugar. Go for nutrient-rich whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken, legumes and whole grains. A mid-afternoon snack of a banana and non-commercial yogurt will make you feel much better than a sugary treat from the snack machine.
- Don't eat big meals. They are energy theives extrodinare.
- Cut down on heavy meat consumption and trans-fat intake. They take a lot of energy to digest.
- Make sure you're taking the essential supplements. Panax ginseng is a natural herb that not only supplies a fairly quick energy boost, it supplies long-term tonic effect to your body and immune system. Don't take too, much though. The B vitamins are also particularly good for energy.
- Listen to more to your favorite music.
- Increase exercise. If you're almost totally sedentary, start with 15 minutes a day of walking. If you're too busy before you go to work and too tired after you come home, then take a pair of walking shoes to work along with a healthy brown bag lunch. Spend the first 15-30 minutes of your lunch period walking. Then eat. If you're in better shape than that, do whatever you enjoy most. A note: your exercise will be more fun if you include your favorite tunes. Studies show that those who workout with music burn more calories than those who don't.
- Enhance your elimination function. In large part, this should be accomplished by improving your diet and drinking more water. But if you're not having at least one bowel movement per day, Psyllium seed products can be very helpful. Enemas and colonics can help, and some people swear by them, but if that's not something you're ready for, you're not alone.
- Get more sleep. We all know how tired we feel when we don't get a good night's sleep. A long-term lack of adequate sleep will quickly result in a cycle of long-term fatigue. If you aren't able to get a full night's sleep, an afternoon nap or rest time can help.
- Go to bed as early as possible with a hot water bottle over your liver (right side, just below your ribcage). This allows the liver to use additional time and energy for detoxification processes, because the liver works at a slightly higher temperature than the rest of the body. The hot water bottle allows it to save that energy for other purposes. The extra rest will probably help as well. Take melatonin, not only is it a powerful antioxidant that can help your detoxification processes, but it can help you get a great night's sleep as well.
Herbs for Energy
There are two basic categories of herbs that are energy boosters. Stimulants work by exciting the body -- they create an increase in heart rate, respiration, blood pressure or in muscular contractions. Adaptogens are tonics -- they improve the body's ability to handle stress and strengthen the body systemically.
Adaptogen herbs improve antioxidant activity, blood-sugar metabolism, immune function, muscle tone, strength and stamina, focus and concentration, liver function and the sense of well being. Here is a list of adaptogens:
- red ginseng (also called Chinese, Korean or Japanese ginseng; considered by many to be the best adaptogenic herb)
- American ginseng
- Siberian ginseng
- panax ginseng
- licorice root (Panda licorice is a great energizing snack)
- kava kava
- reishi mushroom
- shiitake mushroom
- maitake mushroom
Stimulant herbs can be harmful. In the following list of stimulant herbs, we provide notes about those stimulant herbs that should be used with caution:
- caffeine (use moderately if at all)
- yerba mate
- rooibos tea
- ephedra / ma huang (do not use)
- guarana (moderate use)
- kola nut (moderate use)
- black pepper and cayenne pepper (safe to use)
- damiana (moderate use)
- dong quai (moderate use)
If These Energy Boosters Don't Work For You
If you've tried all these, and are being very good about the diet (that means, no alcohol, caffeine, wheat, sugar, processed or deep fried foods, no dairy and no beef, lots of complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits, raw or lightly steamed vegetables and very little if any fish or chicken and yes, we know that's difficult) and you're still feeling very fatigued, the areas you need to further investigate are allergies, your personal stress management systems, possible unresolved emotional trauma (if this rings a bell for you, it's probably true) or a systemic yeast infection, possibly caused by a dose of antibiotics. You need to find a holistically oriented, licensed health care practitioner to help you with more detective work.
You may want to be tested for hypothroidism, fibromyalgia, or other conditions that present symptoms of chronic fatigue and low energy. Here is a list of such diseases:
- adrenal disorders
- nutritional deficiency
- vitamin B deficiency