Sugar 101: Sugar and Fatigue
When we are tired or having low energy, we tend to look for a quick pick-me-up. Sugar gives our body a quick fix by spiking our blood sugar level. Unfortunately, it also stimulates insulin production. And why is such a rush of insulin a problem?
Insulin is a hormone produced by our pancreas that facilitates sugar to move from our bloodstream into our cells. When all the sugar enters into our cells, leaving very little in our blood, we experience hypoglycemia and we crash. We can get cranky, experience mood problems, and get dizzy.
Recent studies show that such insulin fluctuation over a prolonged period of time may cause a lot of ailments, including metabolic syndromes, insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity.
Since the need for quick energy is a major reason for many people to reach for sugar, I am going to show you my three principles and a few tips on how to boost your energy so that you are less tempted to go for the chocolates and sweets.
When I work with my clients on increasing their energy, I use these three principles:
Create sustained energy
Nourish and strengthen the nervous system
Reduce the body’s toxic load
For each of these principles, I will now tell you why it is important, and what you can do.
Principle 1 – create sustained energy
Why would having sustained energy help you resist sweet temptation?
When you have a sustained and even supply of energy you will be able to minimize spikes and crashes in your blood sugar level and therefore your energy level. You minimize the chance of having a vicious cycle of eating sugar, crashing, and then reaching out for more sugar for a quick energy fix. You will also be able to have better focus, improved concentration, and fewer mood problems.
Here are three tips to create a sustained flow of energy:
- Eat meals with a low glycemic load. Glycemic load or GL, in a nutshell, measures how fast the carbohydrates in your meal are broken down into simple sugar in your digestive system and absorbed into the blood through your intestinal wall. The higher the GL of a meal, the faster the sugar rushes into the blood after ingestion, the more spikes and crashes results. To create a meal of low GL, whole unprocessed foods such as whole gluten-free grains, vegetables, and beans are great choices. They are high in fiber, which is particularly important because it reduces the speed at which the sugar is absorbed by the body. Also, make sure you include a moderate amount of good fat and lean protein to slow down absorption and increase satiety.
- Eat foods that are rich in B vitamins – such as whole grains and nutritional yeast. B vitamins are critical for the body’s energy production. If you experience low energy and frequent lesions around the mouth, you may need supplementation to increase your level of B vitamins in your body. If you are taking a supplement, make sure that it has a balance of all B vitamins, which is important for proper assimilation and utilization. I recommend taking the supplement in the morning to help boost your daytime energy.
- Avoid coffee and caffeinated beverages, which often times increase your sugar cravings by creating blood sugar fluctuations and exacerbating mood swings. Your can explore coffee alternatives that often contain less caffeine and are less likely to cause jitters. Examples are black tea, green tea, white tea, and Rooibos, which is also known as the African red bush tea.
Principle 2 – nourish and strengthen the nervous system
Taking care of your nervous system can help restore and replenish your energy. You will stay focused without the caffeine jitter. You will feel calm and relaxed so that you can get the rest you need. Getting enough rest and sleep is another important way to manage your sugar cravings – which we will discuss later.
To encourage calm and relaxation, try herbal teas such as chamomile, valerian, or lemon balm.
Principle 3 – reduce your toxic load
What does toxic load have to do with energy? Well, turns out to be quite a bit!
Our body needs to spend energy to detoxify and process environmental toxins that we put into our bodies – be it from our foods, from the water we drink, the air we breathe, or the products and chemicals that we use. When your body diverts the energy to processing those toxic substances, less energy will be available to do things that matter – such as focusing on work, doing physical activities, or spending quality time with your friends and family.
Detox or cleansing is a big topic in and of itself, and it definitely deserves its own article. If the tips that I share resonate with you and you want more, you can download my 4 Day Mini Cleanse here to try it out for yourself.
Here are some tips to lower your toxic load and reduce your toxic exposure.
Use foods and herbs to support liver, kidney and colon cleansing. Examples are milk thistle, dandelion root, and yellow dock. Drinking a glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon first thing in the morning is an easy way to support liver health.
You can also try this very cleansing juice recipe: 10 – 12 carrots; 1 – 2 apples; 1 beet; 1-inch piece of ginger; and 1 – 2 lemons. Run all the ingredients through the juicer and you are good to go! Carrots and apples support colon cleansing. Beet is great for lymphatic detox while lemon supports the liver. Ginger is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and its warming property makes this raw juice – which tends to be cooler in nature – more suitable for people with a cooler constitution.
Buy and eat organic foods as much as possible to reduce exposure to pesticides and herbicides – look up the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15” list on the Internet. The Dirty Dozen is a list of 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables because of the way they are cultivated and the parts that we eat. Buying organic is highly recommended. Some studies have shown that if you shop organic for just these 12 fruits and vegetables, you can reduce your toxic exposure due to herbicides and pesticides by as much as 80%.
On the other hand, the clean 15 is a list of least contaminated fruits and vegetables – don’t sweat it if you can’t find them organic.
Cleansing your body regularly can help increase energy level and reduce sugar cravings. There are many detox/cleanse programs and protocols out there, and not all of them are created equal. Some may give you dramatic results such as rapid weight loss, but not all of them are safe. If you have not been detoxifying/cleansing regularly and start out with a very aggressive protocol without proper guidance, adequate preparation and nutritional support, your body will be unable to handle the toxins released into your blood stream and they will end up being reabsorbed into your tissue – making the effort ineffective.
A supervised detox or cleanse is always recommended, especially if you are new to cleansing and detoxification. I want to offer you support with my 28 day Clean Eating Program. This protocol teaches you how to remove the main inflammatory foods that turn into sugar in the body–wheat, dairy and of course, sugar and what to eat instead and how to create a lifestyle where you don’t have any more sugar cravings and you regain your willpower around food. If you want to find out more, just go onto my website here.
Before we leave the topic of energy, I want you to think about three small changes that you can make to help you get more energy:
Maybe it’s switching out sugary cereal with a smoothie, starting a few times a week?
How about having plain Greek yogurt with raw honey, cinnamon and raisins for dessert, instead of ice cream?
Maybe you can print out the Dirty Dozen list, and keep it handy in your wallet when you shop for groceries?
Please write them down and make an intention to follow through.