What the doctor orders:Better fuel, meditation, maybe

In last month’s article, I talked about fatigue, it’s common causes, how to identify these causes and basic therapeutic approaches. This month I will discuss optimizing energy and performance.

The holistic approach to achieving optimal energy is multifaceted and, in some ways, subtle. It requires an exploration of the life factors that may hinder your energy levels from being as good as they can be and determining the therapies that will best address your individual and unique condition.

Better fuels equal more energy

The best way to increase energy is to use methods that do not have associated withdrawal symptoms. When taken away, stimulants such as coffee leave your body in a worse condition, and often produce headaches, fatigue and other withdrawal-related symptoms.

Sweets and sugary foods provide a hit of energy, but cause blood sugar levels to crash. The result: fatigue about an hour later.

For longer term energy needs, simple sugars are detrimental. In general, most energy bars and health bars are intensely sweetened and not supportive of long-term optimal energy. It is best to avoid candies, chocolate and other sweets.

Eating nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean sources of protein can supply the nutrients your body needs with little, if anything, to hold you back.

Supplements can boost energy and immunity

Your body’s energy and nutrient needs change depending on the different stressors in your life.

I recommend a high-dose, high-potency multivitamin as a nutritional safety net for many of my patients who want to increase their energy levels. Many nutrients have an antioxidant effect, which means they protect all the components of your body from both naturally occurring and toxin-related chemical damage.

Especially vulnerable are your cells’ mitochondria, where all of your body’s energy is made from glucose, fats, protein and oxygen.

It’s especially important to help your body out with additional doses of vitamin C. Research shows that, in stressful situations, doses of vitamin C above the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) decrease the physical effect that stress has on your body. This means that similar situations are experienced as less stressful with optimal vitamin C supplementation. Daily supplementation with 200 to 1,000mg seems to be about right.

In times of increased demand, magnesium levels fall because more is lost in the urine. Magnesium is an important mineral in neurological function, the body’s production of energy, and proper muscle function. Many patients find they are more relaxed when they take supplemental magnesium.

The RDA for preventing magnesium deficiency (not for optimal function) was increased a few years ago to 320mg and 420mg daily for women and men, respectively. Higher doses can be used, but excess magnesium (as well as vitamin C) causes loose and/or frequent stools and can cause poor absorption of other nutrients, so be careful!

In every cell of your body, the B vitamins — especially niacin and riboflavin — are key to the production of energy. Supplementation with B vitamins can substantially increase your energy. Some of my patients even use B vitamins when they have to stay up all night for work. For most folks, it is best to take high doses of B in the morning so you don’t disturb your sleep habits.

Stress, hormones and digestion

Stress — whether physical, mental, or emotional — affects hormone levels in the body. Stress can cause changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle and reproductive function. Stress causes the cells in the body to be less responsive to thyroid hormone, which affects energy, mood and weight. Stress even contributes to diabetes by reducing the body’s response to insulin.

If you have been under considerable stress for extended periods of time, laboratory testing might show sub-optimal functioning of various organ systems. This is most commonly seen in the endocrine (or hormonal) system.

Digestive dysfunction may also be caused by a demanding lifestyle. If your digestive system is not working right, it can result in poor nutrient absorption, sensitivity reactions to common foods, poor detoxification, and even auto-intoxication (gut imbalances that cause the production of toxic chemicals).

The hormonal and other physical changes caused by stress can be considerable. Improving function with herbs and supplements that support digestive and hormonal function can help. Consult a health-care professional for specific suggestions tailored to your body.

If your mind makes you weary

Some aspects of your demanding lifestyle may be beyond your control; they lie outside your sphere of influence. However, you can affect your perspective or attitude about life factors and this can decrease the stress you experience from them.

Meditation, prayer, coaching or counseling can dramatically change your emotional and physical responses to demanding situations and leave you with more energy and greater resources to deal with other life issues.

Richard Malik is a naturopathic doctor with a practice in Lakeville offering comprehensive health care for the entire family.

Latest News

Pirates win Little League championship

The Pirates pose with their trophies beneath the scoreboard after winning the Northwest District 6 Majors 2024 title.

Riley Klein

THOMASTON — The Steve Blass Northwest Connecticut Pirates defeated the Tri-Town Braves 11-1 in the Northwest District 6 Majors League Championship game June 14.

The Pirates, made up of players aged 10 to 12 from the six Region One towns and Norfolk, won by run rule with a 10-point lead after five innings, a fitting end to a dominant season. The 2024 champs did not commit a single error in the game.

Keep ReadingShow less
‘Old Glory’ finds new home for Flag Day

North Canaan Elementary School students applaud as the flag reaches the peak of a new 35-foot flagpole.

Riley Klein

NORTH CANAAN — Students of North Canaan Elementary School gathered at Sam Eddy Field Wednesday, June 12, to witness the stars and stripes hoisted high on a newly installed flagpole.

Celebrated two days early due to school ending, the Flag Day ceremony took place on a pristine spring morning. Patriotism was palpable as the students sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Grand Old Flag” beneath a clear blue sky.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy at The Playhouse

The Sharon Playhouse honors Bobbie Olsen at its annual Spotlight Gala.

Justin Boccitto

The Annual Sharon Playhouse Spotlight Gala cast their theater light upon a worthy honoree this year: Bobbie Olsen, Bobbie Olsen, former president of The Playhouse board and namesake of a well-known location, The Bobbie Olsen Theatre, where residents pack the seats each summer to see the mainstage production plays and musicals. Held on Saturday, June 1, the dinner, cocktail, and musical review at the Olsen Theatre was a celebration of all she has contributed to keeping live theater active and alive in Sharon, even in the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Bobbie Olsen is an incredible supporter of not just this theater, but this community,” said Sharon Playhouse Artistic Director Carl Andress. “She supports the Sharon Playhouse in her leadership, and in the beauty of her person-hood. We’re just so grateful that she’s been in our lives and that she continues to be such a good friend to the theater, Sharon Playhouse, and the theater in general.”

Keep ReadingShow less
NWCT Arts Council: Arts Connected

Matica Circus duo from Harwinton, Connecticut performing at NWCT ARTS Connected event in May

Jennifer Almquist

The Northwest Connecticut Arts Council (NWCT Arts) recently held Arts Connected, their first fundraiser, at the Spring Hill Vineyard in Washington, Connecticut. The evening celebration, a combination of Fellini movie, carnival, and Renaissance Fair, featured an aerialist from Matica Circus in Harwinton, and a flame and flow performer out in the courtyard under the stars. Momix, based in Washington Connecticut, under the artistic direction of founders Moses Pendleton and Cynthia Quinn, also performed. Two dancers wore Jeff Koons-style inflated red dog suits, and Momix dancer Jared Bogart wafted through the space wearing an immense, two-stories tall silk fan. Persian calligraphic painter Alibaba Awrang created a community work of art, while Ameen Mokdad, a violinist from Iraq, made music with Hartford’s Cuatro Puntos Ensemble. A young musician, Adelaide Punkin, performed an original song from the balcony of the vast space, while a giant puppet from Sova Dance and Puppet waltzed through the festivities. DJ Arvolyn Hill from Kent spun the tunes, an African drum circle set the rhythm, and there was abundant food and drink for the gathered crowd.

Keep ReadingShow less