If you are experiencing poor energy, difficulty in concentration and low moods then these simple guidelines can help to improve this situation.
Stress causes dehydration which in turn causes further stress. One of the effects of dehydration is that it imbalances blood sugar which in turn influences energy levels and mood.
Plain water is the first choice for hydrating the body. Drink it at room temperature and avoid icy cold drinks as they can shock and interfere with digestion. Avoid fizzy drinks, cordials, processed fruit juices, tea and coffee as they often contain added sugar, chemicals and preservatives that contribute towards dehydration.
Build up to drinking around 2 litres (8 glasses) of water a day. Spread this amount of water evenly throughout the day. Remember not to drink large amounts in one go as this can stress your body. If you are active & sweat a lot then you will need to drink even more water.
Increase your water intake gradually if you are not used to drinking plain water. Start to replace some drinks with plain water to begin with. If you don’t like the taste of plain water add a subtle natural flavour like some freshly prepared juice or a few sprigs of fresh herbs like mint or slices of lemon, orange or fresh ginger.
To help with digestion, aim to drink a glass 30 minutes before each meal. This helps the body to prepare for digestion and can reduce or prevent symptoms of acid reflux and heart burn after eating.
Blood sugar is low in the morning as there has been a long gap since the previous meal. Aim to have breakfast between 7-9am. Eating breakfast helps to stabilise energy and concentration levels for the rest of the day.
Always include protein-rich foods with breakfast (yoghurt, eggs, beans, lean meat), as they help to stabilise blood sugar
If you are feeling too nauseous to eat at this time then this is probably due to dehydration & low blood sugar. Have a protein-rich drink like a small fruit smoothie made with yoghurt & fruit.
Eat Regular Meals
Hunger is also a form of stress which affects energy levels and mood. Do not leave long gaps or miss meals as this stresses the body and imbalances energy levels. Eating regular meals will help to keep energy stable. Remember to always include some protein-rich foods with each meal (meat, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, yoghurt, milk, cheese etc), as they help to stabilise blood sugar.
Include Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Aim to eat seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables each day. Vegetables help to balance blood sugar and neutralise acidic foods. Eating fresh vegetables particularly green leafy vegetables with main meals provide essential minerals and fibre. Adding a teaspoon of virgin olive oil or organic butter to vegetables helps the body to utilise these minerals.
Eat More Fresh Foods
Preparing meals from fresh foods have many health benefits. They have been processed less and as a result contain less chemicals and preservatives. It is also easier to control the levels of sugar, salt and fat when you prepare meals from fresh ingredients.
Avoid Sugar & Sugary Snacks
Sugar is harmful. Not only do foods and drinks containing sugar rot teeth but they also feed and encourage the growth of harmful micro-organisms within the body like fungi and bacteria. Consumption of sugar acidifies the body and requires neutralisation by drawing alkalising nutrients like calcium from the muscles, bones and teeth.
Remember, every time sugar is consumed the body is robbed of vital nutrients.
Aim to reduce sugar and sugary snacks by replacing them with naturally sweet foods like fresh or dried fruit, sweet potatoes or naturally sweet flavours like cinnamon and vanilla
Avoid Processed Foods
Processed and fast foods often contain damaging hydrogenated fats, sugar, salt, preservatives and chemicals. These foods are deficient in nutrients & are stressful for the body to digest. If the body cannot breakdown, detoxify and eliminate processed foods, then they will be stored in body tissues like the joints and muscles or as body fat.
Avoid Artificial Sugar
Artificial sugar leaves the body craving more sweet foods & drinks. It is also toxic to the brain and over-stimulates the nervous system. Artificial sugar is found in many processed foods and diet foods and drinks and is often labelled as NutraSweet, Aspartame or Splenda.
Avoid Damaged Fats and Heat Sensitive Fats
Damaged fats include hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats. The body will find it hard to process these fats and ends up dumping them into the cell membranes, which in turn disrupts cellular communication and movement of nutrients, water and waste.
Heat sensitive fats are the unsaturated fats. These fats become damaged with high cooking temperatures like frying, roasting and should be used cold as dressings.
Avoid Table Salt
Table salt has been processed and consists of sodium, chloride and anti-caking substances. This type of salt creates mineral and fluid imbalances within the body which has a knock on effect on energy and mood. Replace processed salt with other flavourings like seaweed, herbs, etc.
Other forms of salt are available which have been processed a lot less than table salt. These natural salts include Celtic sea salt and Himalayan salt. These salts contain many more minerals apart from sodium and chloride and do not cause the same imbalances as processed table salt when used in moderation.
Gradually Reduce Caffeine
Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, colas and energy drinks. Consuming caffeine dehydrates the body and puts it into a state to deal with stress. Caffeine raises blood sugar, blood pressure, heart beat & makes the blood thick and sticky. The sudden increase in blood sugar caused by caffeine leads to a blood sugar crash, making blood sugar fall dramatically. The rise & fall of energy increases the need for stimulants like caffeine.
Cutting out caffeine completely will result in poor mood & headaches. Therefore gradually reducing caffeine will have fewer side effects than completely cutting out caffeine.
Gradually Reduce other Stimulants: Alcohol, Nicotine, Sugar, Caffeine and Chocolate
Stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, sugar and nicotine are often used to calm stress felt within the body. This stress can be experienced at physical, mental or emotional levels or a combination of all 3. To help resolve these issues support with the root causes of stress is required.
Like caffeine stimulants like alcohol and nicotine also dehydrate the body. Prolonged dehydration results in a build up of toxicity, which cannot be cleared out of the body. This in turn can lead to unconnected symptoms like pain, inflammation, constipation, headaches, poor mood, poor skin etc.
Stimulants like alcohol, nicotine, sugar, caffeine and chocolate force the body to raise blood sugar. At some level this helps the individual feel better however this feeling is short-lived and is followed by a crash in blood sugar, resulting in stress being felt within the body. Aim to reduce gradually to avoid negative side effects.
To avoid uncomfortable side effects, always aim to make changes gradually.