Life never seems to slow down, does it? From the moment you wake up each morning to the minutes before you fall asleep that night, you are constantly bombarded with your various responsibilities and obligations that just cannot wait. It is no wonder you start to feel exhausted.
Energy seems to be a hot commodity to come by, especially as you get older. However, there are many steps you can take in your daily life to boost your energy levels and improve your overall health.
Read on to discover the positive lifestyle changes you can make to combat fatigue, as well as the bad habits that may be holding your energy levels back. But first, to understand how to have better energy it is also important to understand how your body creates that energy. As you will soon see, the two go hand in hand.
How energy works
The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell
Almost every cell in the human body has what are called mitochondria, sometimes even hundreds of them. You might remember them from biology class. In fact, in a relatively recent Internet meme, many students joked that the only lesson they had learned in school science was that ‘the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell’.
All jokes aside, as far as lessons go, this is an important one. Every inch of the human body is composed of cells (think 37 trillion!), almost all of which have their own mitochondria in charge of giving them the energy to do their jobs and keep our bodies functioning properly. In other words, the mitochondria is kind of a big deal.
Without going into too much detail, the mitochondria use the oxygen we breathe and nutrients from the food we eat to create energy that is usable to the cell, called ATP. The cells will then redeem this energy to perform necessary functions. For example, muscle cells use their many mitochondria to help power contraction and movement.
The human body is capable of producing an impressive amount of energy and this can all be traced back to the mighty mitochondria.
What can go wrong?
Here’s the thing: ATP is not the only product of the mitochondria. In order to create energy, the mitochondria also releases certain antioxidants, like CoQ10, as well as potentially damaging molecules called free radicals. The antioxidants work to target the free radicals and prevent them from hurting essential proteins within the cell, as well as genetic material. As long as there is balance between the two compounds, there should be no issues.
Let’s look at it this way: antioxidants like CoQ10 have two jobs. Their primary job is to help the mitochondria produce ATP so that its cell has enough energy for its specific tasks. But on the side, they also have to fight off free radicals and prevent them from inflicting any damage on their cell ecosystem. If an inadequate amount of CoQ10 is being produced, it can become spread too thin between its two jobs. As we get older, our levels of CoQ10 can naturally drop, while free radicals continue to be produced at the same rate.
The natural solution is to find a way to keep CoQ10 levels high despite the effects of aging. Due to groundbreaking cellular science, this is now possible.
How to improve your energy levels
Address the source: take an energy supplement
We just spent a lot of time talking about the mitochondria and an antioxidant called CoQ10, which plays a crucial role in energy production but which can also naturally decrease in volume over time. That was not to say that this decrease is something we need to accept as we age. In fact, quite the opposite - the breakthrough cellular science I mentioned before comes in the form of a CoQ10 supplement specifically targeted towards supporting energy production.
While there are many different CoQ10 supplements to choose from, the most innovative and effective is MitoQ. The creators of MitoQ noticed that other CoQ10 supplements were struggling to pass the tough membrane of the mitochondria, and therefore were somewhat unproductive even at relatively high doses. Learning from this, they developed an enhanced version of CoQ10, whose smaller, positively charged body makes it hundreds of times more effective at being absorbed by the mitochondria than other supplements of its kind.
Energy supplements like MitoQ can offer long term solutions to the issue of fatigue. By increasing your CoQ10 levels, MitoQ helps maintain balance between CoQ10 and free radicals in the mitochondria, and therefore facilitates optimal energy production.
As explained above, cellular energy, or ATP, is formed in large part by the food you eat. Literally, you are what you eat. So, if your diet consists of large amounts of sugary and highly processed foods, your energy levels will suffer accordingly. The human body converts primarily (unsaturated) fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy, so it is important to make sure each of these food groups are present in your daily meals, within moderation.
Here are some other tips to maintaining a healthy diet:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Water makes up about 60% of the human body’s composition, and the number is even greater for essential organs like the lungs and the heart. Thus, proper hydration is crucial to all of the human body’s major functions, including energy production.
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only do these foods have high water compositions, which will help contribute to better hydration, they also contain various essential nutrients that will help you feel more energized. Many fruits and vegetables (such as tomatoes and leafy greens) are also high in antioxidants that can help neutralize free radicals.
- In addition to produce, eat more lean protein sources and whole grains. For healthy fats turn to avocados, nuts, natural oils and fatty fish (e.g. salmon).
- Avoid foods that are too sugary or salty, as well as junk food. This also includes sugary drinks like soda.
- Avoid caffeine as much as possible, as it will only provide a quick, temporary fix to your energy shortage. If you must, limit your caffeine intake to mornings so as not to affect your sleep patterns.
There is a clear correlation between sleep and energy, so the importance of getting enough sleep every night cannot be understated. The human body needs sleep to rejuvenate and restore its energy levels, along with many other vital functions. The average adult needs around 7-9 hours of sleep each night in order to function at their best.
Here is how to have a better night’s sleep:
- Put your phone and computer away and turn off the TV at least thirty minutes before bed. The light and sound can make it harder to fall asleep and can be detrimental to a full night’s sleep.
- Avoid snacking before bed. During sleep your metabolism slows down, meaning it takes a longer time for your body to digest food. This, coupled with the horizontal position of your body during sleep, can create digestive issues that will in turn affect your energy.
- Unwind before bed, whatever that means for you. Make the time to do something that relaxes you and your sleep will benefit.
- Create conditions that facilitate sleep. If you cannot sleep when the temperature is too hot, remove any excess blankets and make sure your room is cool. If you wake up easily, make sure you have turned off anything that may make noise.
A regular exercise routine (try for 3-5 times a week) can significantly improve energy levels, when performed at low to moderate levels. A sedentary lifestyle can be a major impediment to energy levels and your overall health, so exercise is hugely important. Exercise will also help with a better night’s sleep and stress relief and therefore limit fatigue.
Seek out types of physical activity that excite you and that will motivate you to keep going week in and week out. For example, if you hate running, do not force yourself to do it! Instead try to workout with friends, go to group classes, or even do certain exercises from the comfort of your home. There are endless options to make exercise easy and fun. The point is just to get active.
This last step to better energy is certainly not least. Stress is extremely fatigue-inducing, as well as detrimental to your body in many other ways, so it is crucial to limit stress as much as possible. As previously mentioned, exercise is a great and healthy way to reduce stress.
Other options include:
- Taking breaks during the work day when you are feeling overwhelmed
- Working on your breathing/meditation
- Taking a warm bath at the end of a long day
- Going outside and getting fresh air, especially on a sunny day.
The list could go on and on. Find a couple of activities that you know relax you/improve your mood and make sure you incorporate them into your daily life. When your stress levels are low, your energy will benefit!
Finally, if you succeed in making these lifestyle changes and are still experiencing fatigue, it is a good idea to talk with your doctor to find out if anything else is wrong. They can help you make a relevant treatment plan, in addition to healthy eating and regular exercise!