healthy habits for improved energy

HOW TO LOWER STRESS THIS CHRISTMAS

It is coming up to the busy holiday time called Christmas.  But how do you lower your stress response this Christmas season?

Thanksgiving has passed and the stores are filled with sales for the coming gift-giving season.  Can you feel the stress already?!

Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Would you agree?

When you are suffering from fatigue, you are probably wondering how to get through the next few weeks of the holidays without burning out.  After all your to-do list is getting bigger each day it seems.

Our natural “fight or flight” stress response can sometimes go a little overboard. It’s supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after escaping the danger.   In today’s culture, our stress response is chronic and does not just happen once in a while.

The main stress hormone is called “cortisol.”  After your adrenaline kicks in, it’s released from your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning upon waking, and slowly declines in the  afternoon preparing  your body for sleep.

Did you know that too-high levels of cortisol are associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and even lowers your immunity?  No wonder you feel tired if you are in chronic stress mode!

Do you experience any of these? Well, then read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations to help you lower this stress hormone naturally!


How to Lower Your Cortisol with Food and Nutrients

  1. The first enemy of cortisol balance is sugar.   So it would be wise to reduce this ingredient in our diets for better health and lower your stress response.

  1. High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels. If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you ingest.  Also because fatigue is part of your health complaints, then consider cutting out caffeine and using an alternative drink instead.

  1. Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty.  The body requires water for so many functions including giving you more energy.  Don’t stress yourself by being dehydrated.

  1. Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn't just help reduce the stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health.  These include foods that improve gut health such as probiotic rich, fermented foods such as kefir and sauerkraut along with prebiotic fiber foods found in legumes, whole grains, and some fruits and  vegetables.

Lifestyle Habits to Lower Cortisol

Lifestyle is a big factor in your stress response. 

The following habits you can adapt to reduce stress:

Mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol.

Exercise. While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels.  Taking a brisk walk will relieve your stress.  But be careful to not overdue it or you will be stressed from the intensity of the exercise.

Sleep.  Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways.  It is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night and adapt a sleep routine.

Self Care.  Habits like deep breathing, going for a massage, meditation, reading a good book, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol levels.

Nurture Relationships. Maintaining good relationships and spending time with people you like and who support you is so important.  Staying connected to positive people will inject you with positive energy that helps reduce stress.

Conclusion

Fatigue is linked to an increase in cortisol levels. 

Elevated cortisol levels have several negative impacts on your health. There are many proven ways to reduce levels of cortisol naturally.  In doing so, you can reduce your levels of fatigue and find more energy in your day.

In terms of foods and nutrients, have less sugar and caffeine.  Increase your intake of  water, fruit, vegetables, probiotics, and prebiotics.

Lifestyle factors are huge when it comes to cortisol. To lower yours, exercise (but not too much), get more sleep, relax, and have more fun.

In the comments below, let me know your favorite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol!

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Five Ways to Improve Your Sleep to Beat Fatigue

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

Would you like to know the five ways to improve your sleep?  Not getting the rest you need can make you feel “tired and wired”.  Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

 Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.  People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like

  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • certain types of cancer;
  • slower metabolism,
  • weight gain,
  • hormone imbalance,
  • and inflammation. 

And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Even if you want to exercise, lack of sleep can interfere with your energy to even start.

So what are the three main purposes of sleep?

  1. To repair and detoxify our body
  2. To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, also known as “synaptic plasticity”.
  3. To conserve energy so we can function in our lives and do the activities we need to do.

You may be surprised that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night.  I think we can all work on that one! Agreed!  But how do you even start!?


Five Ways to Improve Your Sleep

1. Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule

Get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule.  Make it a priority and you're more likely to achieve it.  This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off.  Every. Single. Night. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.


2. Balance Your Blood Sugar

Balance your blood sugar throughout the day.  Eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber).  Choose the whole apple instead of the juice.  Include protein in every meal.  Also a bit of fat at the meal in the form of olive oil, coconut oil or nuts will also help to balance your blood sugar with your meal.


3. Expose Yourself to Light

During the day get some sunshine and exercise.  If you are in the winter months with less sun, try exposing yourself to light by using something like a HappyLight which you can buy on Amazon.  These things tell your body it's daytime; time for being productive, active and alert.  By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.  


4.  No Caffeine After Noon

If you drink  coffee, limit your caffeine and added sugar intake until after 12 pm.    Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be in the evening. Try calming teas at night like chamomile or peppermint tea.


5. Dim the Lights One Hour Before Sleep

Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 - 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off).  This would include dimming your artificial lights, turning off your screen time and perhaps reading a hand-held book or having a bath.

These are not full proof if there are other underlying causes such as abdominal discomfort or adrenal fatigue that needs to be addressed.  

If you feel you need more individualized care to support you in restoring these functions, please book a call with me and we will see if we can work together.


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Is Your Changing Metabolism the Cause of Your Fatigue?

Photo by Maaike Nienhuis on Unsplash

​Photo by Maaike Nienhuis on Unsplash

Remember your metabolism is the way your body uses nutrients and oxygen for energy and everything you do.

It seems as we get older, this process seems to slow down.  This affects your energy, body temperature and physical fitness.

You may feel tired, cold or feel that you've gained weight.  Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.   You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.

Since I have turned 52, I have noticed a huge difference this year.  There is no just letting myself go.  It takes real work now to feel good.

Why does this happen?  Why do metabolic rates slow down?

What can slow your metabolism?

There are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

But don't worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”!  In fact it's so complicated I'm only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.

Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:

  1. low thyroid function
  2. your history of dieting
  3. your size and body composition
  4. your activity level
  5. lack of sleep

I will briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

Low thyroid hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism.  When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active.   Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right.  But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.  Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) for example.

Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.

Your history of dieting

When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down.  This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food. 

While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have.  As you know more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.

Tip: Make sure you're eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it.

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates.  This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one. 

However, you already know that gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism.

Muscles that actively move and do work need energy.  Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.  This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have. 

Tip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass.

Which leads us to...

Your activity level

Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you're also getting hotter.

Even little things can add up.  Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.

Tip:  Incorporate movement into your day.  Also, exercise regularly.

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Losing sleep also affects your energy and weight gain leading to major fatigue issues.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night. 

CLICK HERE to join my support group for tired women.

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Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

Did you know that overeating can cause an energy drain and make you feel very lethargic for the rest of the day?

I have been to family gatherings and watched a couple people pass out on the couch from eating too much food.

It is literally their body shutting them down to have the energy to process the food.

This is the time of year for eating out, traveling and spending time with friends and fun food!

Don’t you just love those summer backyard BBQ’s and annual potlucks?

And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people,

It is way too easy (and common) to indulge at these special gatherings.

But it doesn’t always stop there.

Sometimes we overeat on regular days.  Or at regular meals.  Or All. The. Time.

I have to admit that I do not eat as much in the summer as in the fall and winter.  How about you?

Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.

(challenge: turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.

But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger?  Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.

Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten.  And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’).

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.

Win-win!

Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”

You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?

This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.

Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.

Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.

When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.

So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.

But don’t start there.

(Don’t worry, you can have some…just after you’ve eaten your salad).

Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they’re full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.

Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller.  They’re “satiating”.

And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal.

Summary:

Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.

 

Join my private Facebook Group for Tired Women Over 40 ===> Click Here

 

Luana

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

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