A recent study by the Academy of General Dentistry suggests that the high levels of sugar in sports and energy drinks wreak even more damage on our pearly whites than originally thought. Here’s some sugar-free energy boosts that won’t turn you into a toothless wonder.
If you’re struggling to stay awake during the day, you’re probably not getting enough sleep during the night.
“If someone says they’ve got no energy, it doesn’t mean that their fuel stores are low but rather that they’re feeling tired,” points out Dr Timothy Fairchild, a specialist in sports science and exercise physiology at Australia’s Murdoch University.
There are various reasons for tiredness but the most common is a lack of sleep. Sleep plays a pivotal role in recovery, both mental and physical, from the stresses that have occurred throughout the day.”
Energy allows us to exercise, but it’s also that exercise that provides us with that energy in the first place. “Exercise plays an important role in maintaining energy levels for a variety of reasons,” says Dr Timothy Fairchild.
“Firstly, it improves the function of the body, and therefore helps all the systems related to energy use – such as the lungs, the heart, the movement of blood through the body and the muscles – to function more efficiently. Additionally, if we go to bed being both mentally and physically fatigued, we generally have improved sleep.
Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to reach for a drink – keeping hydrated is essential when it comes to maintaining energy levels, but water will do the job just fine.
“Fluids play a very important role with regards to fatigue, since the body constantly monitors the water levels in our body,” says Dr Timothy Fairchild. “If these drop, much like our car, the body sends a warning signal to the brain (or driver).
The body’s natural reaction would then be to shut off until the water levels have been restored. The reason for this is that we’re constantly using water in our body – we use it as a cooling unit.
If hydration levels start to run low, then the natural reaction is to signal the body to stop doing whatever it is doing or slow down, decreasing the rate at which we use water. The body goes into a state of self-preservation.”
Fresh air is important because we need a certain level of oxygen, and if this oxygen level drops, then we’ll feel tired,” says Dr Fairchild. “This is particularly true if we work in an environment where the carbon dioxide levels are high.
If for example we are in an office environment, we can often find a situation where the oxygen levels are slightly lower, and the carbon dioxide levels are slightly higher than they should be.
This will lead to individuals becoming tired since the body now recognises that it has a slightly lower level of oxygen and an elevation in carbon dioxide, which manifests in feelings of tiredness.”
Cutting out the caffeine
If you regularly rely on a cup of coffee for an instant energy boost, you could be doing more harm than good.
“Turning to coffee for an energy boost is just another short-term fix that actually leaves you even more exhausted, needing more and more coffee to keep up,” warns Laura Holland, a nutritional therapist and founder ofwww.inshallah.org.uk. “Instead, I suggest ginseng tea – it provides a great energy boost, it is excellent for vitality and it’s very healthy, even giving a sense of a caffeine kick!
It’s also worth remembering that a lot of tiredness comes from dehydration and poor diet, and that simply drinking more water and increasing the amount of natural fresh foods that you eat will give a natural energy high.”