How to boost your energy?
We live in a busy world. While we’re often told to disconnect, take a break and relax to help manage our stress levels, there are times when you’re genuinely busy and need to get stuff done. How do you support yourself and your family during the busy times? First, you need to understand how your body makes energy and what happens to that energy when you’re under stress.
How does your body make energy?
Did you know you have a tiny powerhouse in your cells that makes energy and also helps your body respond to stress? These tiny powerhouses are called mitochondria. Mitochondria produce over 90% of your body’s energy. They not only make the energy to get through day-to-day, but they also respond to your body’s stress hormones and increase energy production to meet the enormous amount of energy your body needs when it’s under stress. To do this, mitochondria take the macronutrients — carbs, proteins and fats — from the foods you eat and convert them into energy. For all of this to take place you also need the help of many hard-working vitamins and minerals.
Nutrients needed to power the mitochondria
Vitamins essential for energy
B1 is needed to convert carbs into energy and for healthy muscle function.
Vitamin B2, B3, B5, B6 & B12
These B vitamins help release the energy of food by supporting the production of enzymes involved in energy production.
Folate (folic acid is the folate in supplements) is an important part of converting food into energy. Around 30–50% of cellular folate are located in the mitochondria.
Biotin is a cofactor, involved in the metabolism of fatty acids and protein and it helps your body use B vitamins.
Vitamin C helps you absorb the iron from plant sources, so it’s an important vitamin for vegetarians and vegans to help support their energy.
Minerals essential for energy
Calcium is needed to help muscles and nerves function. It helps your body break down fats for energy and carries energy molecules for the mitochondria. Calcium is also involved in insulin release.
Magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 enzyme reactions, particularly those involving metabolism of food. Magnesium is required for all enzymatic reactions involved in making energy.
Copper is essential for mitochondrial function and is involved in iron metabolism.
Chromium helps insulin work. Insulin helps the body use glucose for fuel.
Manganese is a cofactor for enzymes involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates.
Zinc is an essential part of more than 100 enzymes, including many needed for energy metabolism.
Eating well for your mitochondria
As you can see the mitochondria not only need quality macronutrients to function optimally, they also need many vitamins and minerals. What foods do you need to help your body make energy?
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables provide quality carbohydrates and vitamins (especially Vitamin C) and minerals you need for mitochondrial function. Leafy green vegetables are also a rich source of folate.
Wholegrain and high fibre carbohydrate foods
Wholegrain bread, high fibre breakfast cereals, brown rice and pasta, and wholegrain crackers and crispbread, will provide quality low GI (see below) carbohydrates that will help your body produce sustainable energy. They are also a great source of B vitamins.
Legumes, lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds and dairy products provide the protein your mitochondria need for energy as well as being excellent sources of minerals and B vitamins.
Healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts and seeds, oily fish and avocado give your mitochondria the fats needed to make energy as well as the essential fatty acids needed to support brain function and a healthy heart.
Choose foods with a low glycaemic Index
The Glycaemic Index (GI) ranks carbs based on their effect on blood glucose levels. Low GI foods are digested and absorbed slowly by the body, causing a lower and slower rise in blood glucose levels; this helps you to feel full for longer.
Eating a balanced, varied diet is important when you’re busy. But it can be difficult when life gets hectic. Keep a tub of nuts or an apple in your bag for when you need a quick health boost on the go. Opting for a pre-prepared salad from the supermarket or some sushi, instead of a drive-thru burger, will help you get the nutrients you need when you’re busy without slipping into unhealthy habits. A quality multivitamin and mineral supplement can also help provide the hardworking micronutrients you need if your dietary intake is inadequate. Speak to your healthcare practitioner to see if supplementation is right for you.
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