Written by Naturopath, Nutritionist and Medical Herbalist Emma Gibson, at Nala Wellness.
Our intelligent bodies break down and absorb energy stored in the foods and fluids we consume, and convert it to the energy we experience in our daily lives. It is this ‘energy’ that allows us to think, move, breath, and fuel all of our internal bodily processes. Pretty important stuff when it comes to how you feel and function in every moment.
If you read no further, to put it simply, the quality of your food and fluids = the quality of your energy. One of the most important things we can do to support our energy is fuelling ourselves with nutrient-dense whole foods.
The foods we eat can either enhance or deplete our energy levels. Nourishing, nutrient-dense wholefoods ensure we have the macro- and micro-nutrients needed to support energy production, whilst highly processed and refined foods can both use up our energy as our body’s work harder to process and detox them, as well as deplete our reserves as we’re not receiving the fuel needed for basic bodily functions.
These days, it’s less common to find foods in their whole, natural and unprocessed form than it is to find highly-processed and refined, packeted, preservative and sugar laden foods. I believe that this ‘new norm’ has led us to accept a baseline level of energy and vitality lower than that which we are designed and deserve to experience! This disconnection from our food, nature, and our body’s intelligence, is why I do the work I do, guiding people through rediscovering just how clever their body’s are, addressing chronic conditions and finding full-health so that they can experience their full potential.
Cellular Energy = Overall Energy
Mind and body energy comes from cellular energy. The little energy production powerhouses in our cells, called mitochondria, are dependent on nutrients to function properly. Some essential nutrients for happy mitochondria are B vitamins, magnesium, and CoQ10. Foods to fuel your mitochondria include: green leafy vegetables, avocados, almonds, cacao, organic meat and fish, sardines, liver, and oily fish. As well as a healthy gut microbiome.
Dysregulated Blood Sugars = Dysregulated Energy
Unstable or dysregulated blood sugars are a phenomenon of our modern world due the foods we now have at our fingertips often being sugar or simple-carbohydrate rich, and not meeting our body’s basic nutrient needs.
If you experience brain fog, fatigue, sugar cravings, variable moods, have trouble concentrating at certain times, insatiable hunger, or have trouble losing weight, these can all be signs of dysregulated blood sugar levels.
Insulin is the hormone that our clever bodies use to respond to incoming food which acts to pull glucose out of the bloodstream and into our cells to be used as energy. Think of insulin as a key that opens the door for glucose to move out of our bloodstream and into our cells.
After we eat, we get a rise in insulin in response to the incoming foods. Carbs require the most insulin, proteins can trigger a slight insulin response, whilst fats require little to none.
Why blood sugar balance is essential to health and overall energy
If there is too much incoming glucose than is required for energy production and healthy stores, it will be stored as body fat. If there is nowhere for the glucose to go, more insulin will be released and more fat will be stored.
High blood sugars stimulate cortisol release - many of us might feel we are not “stressed” but this is one of many possibly internal silent stressors! Rollercoaster blood sugars, and therefore imbalanced cortisol levels can lead to sex hormone imbalances as our stress and sex hormones share the same precursors, and we will always prioritise survival over reproduction.
How to promote proper blood sugar (and energy) balance:
1. Get the right amounts of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates for you. Doing so will encourage just enough insulin release and the use of stored glucose and fat stores as needed. Tip: start by simply turning to foods in their natural and whole form, less packets more produce.
2. Get sugar savvy! Eating foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates directly drive this dysregulated blood sugar pattern, and therefore stimulate the stress response, as well as drive hormonal imbalances, and gut issues. Tip: sure, check in with cravings for the super sweets but it's the hidden sugars that can pile up and wreck havoc on your system. 4.5g of sugar = 1 tsp. Check labels.
3. Prioritising protein in your diet. This is the most important macronutrient for balancing your blood sugar. Tip: aim for (at least) a palm sized portion of protein dense foods with every meal. See our protein blog HERE
4. Where are you getting your healthy fats from? More often than not people have limited healthy fat intake. Tip: add a drizzle of olive or hemp oil (organic cold-pressed), avocado, nuts and seeds, and oily fish, for example.
6. Learning to relax, not just rest, is crucial to our health and energy. Tip: assess the quality of your sleep and whether there could be a few more moments (even if brief) for stillness.
Understanding how to balance your blood sugars, focusing on nutrient dense wholefoods for cellular health, and ensuring regular relaxation are a few of the most basic things you can do to optimise your energy and improve your overall health.
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