When you don’t have enough energy to head off to yoga, volunteer at school, or just get through your to-do list, it's the pits. And no amount of wellness messages can help. In working with thousands of patients over 25 years, I have seen consistent improvements in energy and joy by developing habits and practices that are within reach for all of us.
1. Use spices.
One of the easiest ways to boost your health is also one of the tastiest. Many herbs and spices are medicines for the body. They are dried concentrated plants and are packed with anti-oxidants. If you did nothing but sprinkle them on every meal, you'd supply your body with a much-needed energy boost. Garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, oregano and allspice are some of the powerhouses to include. I tell patients to have one bottle of Italian herbs and one of pumpkin or apple pie spices handy for liberal use.
2. Drink tea.
Drinking more tea can be a powerful addition to your daily ritual. Teas pack plant-based chemicals that halt LDL cholesterol oxidation, improve triglycerides, regulate blood sugar, and lower inflammation. We all know that green tea has powerful anti-oxidants but it actually ranks second to hibiscus tea in this department. Drinking unsweetened tea along with filtered water can hydrate your body and put a spring in your step.
3. Boost your Plant/Animal ratio.
Plants are good for us. No matter how you eat, getting a higher Plant/Animal ratio will provide your body the vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients it craves. Whether it's beets and goji berries speeding methylation, carrots and tomatoes bathing your cells in carotenoids and lycopene, garlic, onion and leeks adding sulfur to your diet to soothe inflammation, or bell peppers and bok choy loading your body with vitamin B6 ... you'll feel better if you bulk up on a rainbow-colored diet throughout the day.
4. Enjoy a sauna.
Science confirms it. Sweat has a higher concentration of toxins than our body fluids so when you sweat, you “toxout” your toxins. The Japanese have shown that heart patients who enjoy periods of infrared sauna (called "waon" or "soothing warmth therapy"), have better artery function and fewer heart symptoms. Rent time in an infrared sauna or consider purchasing one as I have. If needed, head into any sauna and sweat to your heart's content.
5. Consider CoQ10.
Coenzyme Q10 is necessary for the production of energy in every cell in our body and is a powerful antioxidant. As we age, we make less CoQ10. If you take a cholesterol lowering medication, you're losing even more CoQ10. To charge up your body, consider 100 mg a day of CoQ10 for those under 50 years old and 200 mg a day for those over 50. In congestive heart failure, CoQ10 has been shown to be a successful therapy.
6. Avoid “sittosis.”
Sitting is the new smoking. Even gym rats who get in their 60-minute workouts don’t fare so well compared to those with active jobs if they're on their butt most of the day. Standing is the new sign of health activism. I read on a treadmill desk, I am typing now on a standing desk with wheels to move around my home, and I see patients in offices with desks that allow me to work standing. Many businesses are following suit. At work, people may wonder if you have back issues if you stand during meetings. Just tell them you're charging up your energy stores at the recommendation of the Standing Heart Doc.
7. Sleep for energy.
Think of your body as a smart phone. You're used to watching the charge symbol wear down during the day when you use it. The same thing happens to your body; we're just like a meter. You burn through vitamins, antioxidants, and suffer DNA damage during the day. Our bodies are made to repair and replace these effects and restore our systems to full charge.
Research indicates that it takes 7-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis to realize this recharge. For example, if you maintain an optimal weight, don’t smoke, exercise, eat your veggies, and have occasional alcoholic drinks, you lower your risk of a heart attack by 65%. If you also sleep for 7 hours at night, you enjoy an 85% reduction in heart disease.
8. Pet a pet.
Pets can bring out the best in us with unconditional love, and they may even add years to our life. Other benefits are lower stress, decreased blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels from increased walking. If you get within a few feet of your pet, you can even share an electrical field emanating from your heart and theirs that work together in a pattern called coherence. A doggone good thing for your energy.
9. Get busy in bed.
Sorry ladies, most of the research regarding sexual activity and heart health has been done in men, but I think it's safe to assume that doing the deed is a universal energy booster. Men who have sex at least twice a week have half the risk of heart attack of men who get funky only once a month. A key lesson? Sick arteries are not just in the heart but in the groin. If a man can’t get or maintain an erection, it may be an early sign of heart disease. (Men: if you're having trouble in this area, you need a check-up.)
10. Ditch the plastics.
Xeno-estrogens and endocrine disruptors are words that were unknown a few years ago but now pop up in many articles and TV shows. Components of plastics, such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, can interrupt glandular function and particularly block thyroid function.
Most of us have BPA that can be measured in our urine daily and it is associated with obesity, heart disease, breast and prostate cancer. Use glass, porcelain or stainless-steel water bottles rather than disposable ones. Don't heat food in plastic and avoid drinking hot beverages in them both for your health (and the environment, too). Bottles marked recycle code 7 are most likely to contain BPA but those marked with 3 and 6 are concerning, too.
11. Remember: yoga and meditation are medicine.
Modern life is overloaded with stimulation, which activates our sympathetic nervous system. Activities that bring balance back to the role of the parasympathetic, or calming, nervous system improve our health and longevity.
Focusing on breath work by practicing yoga or meditation has been shown to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, improve immune function, lower heart rhythm abnormalities, improve brain blood flow, and activates an enzyme called telomerase to reverse aging.
That’s a lot of benefits!
Taking 15 minutes once or twice a day to disconnect and breathe deeply and rhythmically will raise your energy in no time.
There are many other things you can do to take the “bad things” out of your life and replace them with simple steps to wellness and vitality. I wrote The Holistic Heart Book to help you realize this goal and it has 67 other health prescriptions based on scientific studies. It's available at www.holisticheart.com.
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