Community Magazine Charities - Spring 2017

Natural Energy

Michael Gilbert 2017-03-03 01:33:03

Caffeine might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Explore the alternatives and eliminate the side-effects. Millions of people each day depend on a cup of coffee in hopes of becoming functional in the morning. Others turn to soft drinks or caffeine-laden energy drinks. But some researchers have conducted studies that claim these tactics can have harmful effects. Increased blood pressure, insomnia, headaches and anxiety have been reported by those who consume too much caffeine. Michelle S. Fielding, a Pennsylvania-based homeopathic practitioner and nutritionist, notes those who are over caffeinated often find themselves in an agitated state and the psychoactive drug can affect one’s nervous system. A healthier diet can provide one with more natural energy, and that begins by putting down the java and picking up a piece – or three – of fruit, she says. “I always recommend to my clients that they have three servings of fruit at breakfast,” Fielding says. “Fruit empties toxins out of the liver. Fruits also have a low glycemic load. “You don’t need coffee. Grab an orange, some grapes and pieces of melon.” Kevin Richardson, a personal trainer and the owner of the New York-based High Intensity Training, agrees with Fielding on the importance of a nutritious breakfast. “You need to start out with a good breakfast, and I’m not talking about a doughnut or some pastry,” he says. “You need a breakfast that is high in fiber and contains complex carbohydrates. “If you miss breakfast or just have something like a bagel, you are setting yourself up to overeat because the body can’t regulate itself.” Richardson agrees that fruit is an important part of any good breakfast. He also recommends oatmeal and eggs. “It’s not exactly rocket science,” he says. “You’ve got your carbs and your proteins.” Fielding suggests heading out and getting some exercise two hours after eating breakfast. “Walking is very good for you,” Fielding says. “It’s good to gradually increase the time you spend exercising. If you start doing 15 minutes, make it a goal to get up to 30 minutes.” A brisk walk outside is Fielding’s preferred method, but she says the treadmill is a good option at night or in less than ideal weather conditions. Yoga is another low impact workout that can provide plenty of natural energy. Fielding attends yoga class three times a week and says it’s not only a good option for burning calories and toning muscles, but also serves as a total body workout by including deep breathing and mediation. If one is seeking a higher impact workout for a natural energy boost, Fielding suggests strength training and running. Typical strength training exercises might include squats, bench press, deadlifts and leg curls. “Strength training can build muscle and make your bones stronger,” Fielding says. “It can really get your blood pumping.” Fielding says it’s important to follow up the morning workout with a nutritious lunch. Her go-to healthy dish is a salad with a variety of greens and strips of lean, grilled chicken. Dressing high in fat can often ruin what would otherwise be a very healthy meal. Fielding opts for a homemade dressing consisting of olive oil and a mix of herbs. Olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, has many heart-healthy macronutrients. Benefits to consuming olive oil include lowering rates of inflammation, heart disease and blood pressure. A dish consisting of a lean protein like grilled chicken and a carbohydrate such as a baked potato is a good dinner option, she says. Richardson points out that people who fail to eat properly often turn to caffeine to make it through the day. This, however, is not a wise option. “Caffeine only creates the illusion of energy to your adrenal glands,” he says. Only macronutrients from food can give you energy. Richardson advocates drinking water, and believes there is little reason to ever grab a cup of coffee or a can of soda. “Humans were around for 2,000 years without soda and coffee and they did just fine,” he says. “I don’t believe there is any reason why someone can’t drink water. If you’re thirsty enough you will drink water.” A healthy diet isn’t the only way to get a natural energy boost. Richardson says a good night’s sleep also plays a key role. “Getting constant sleep is so critical because you can’t make up for lost sleep,” he says. “Oversleeping on the weekend sets you up to crash during the week because your body is used to sleeping for a long time. “Stick with a certain time and sleep that length every night. I tell people they shouldn’t even need an alarm clock. Your body should be programmed to not be dependent on an alarm clock. If you’re using an alarm clock you probably aren’t getting enough sleep.”

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