How Functional Medicine Can Increase Your Energy

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     At some point or another we’ve all probably felt tired from sleep deprivation, from stressors, or from being overworked. These are some pretty simply explained causes for tiredness, but what about some of the more complex sources? If you’re suffering from a chronic condition or disease, there are several lifestyle changes that can make you feel more awake.

1.       Light Exercise

     If you’re feeling sluggish in the middle of the day, it can help to move around. Get up from your desk, walk around the office, stretch, and even work at a standing desk if possible. I know it sounds counterintuitive to exercise when you’re out of energy, but it can stimulate both your body and your mind. It boosts circulation and increases the release of hormones that make you feel more alert.

2.       Sleep Hygiene

      This sounds like an obvious one, but don’t underestimate the value of good healthy sleep. Most adults should be getting eight hours of sleep each night. Of course going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning help immensely. If I feel I can’t get to sleep I use natural supplements like melatonin and smooth valerian (which are available at my office). I find these tend to be less habit forming than prescription sleep medications. The most helpful tip I can probably give is to get rid of screens at least an hour before sleep. This includes TVs, phones, laptops, and tablets.

3.       Coffee – Drink or Avoid?

     I’m a proponent of coffee to naturally improve concentration and increase energy, but in general it’s a good not to make it a daily habit. I love a cup of coffee before a workout, usually with some healthy fat like coconut oil, MCT oil, or grass-fed butter to keep me satiated. But if you drink it every day you may tend to gradually increase intake and become dependent. This may lead to a host of other problems like adrenal fatigue. The way to maximize the benefits of coffee may be to make it an occasional solution.  

Creatine + Coffee: A Great Way to Stay Energized Throughout the Day

I keep my office open late into the evening because it’s the best way I can help patients who work 9 to 5 jobs. Sometimes I need an energy boost following my midday workout that will keep me going strong on those long work days. My favorite energy drink isn’t something like Redbull or 5 Hour Energy. Those drinks have an ingredient list of chemicals a mile long and they taste like battery acid. My preferred choice is coffee and creatine.

Creatine is a muscle building supplement that boosts the natural creatine stores in the body. Many weightlifters take it because it improves and helps recover from high-intensity exercise. Clinical research proves these results as well as showing evidence for improved brain function. People who regularly eat a lot of fish and meat may already have enough creatine in their cells. Supplementation can have extraordinarily noticeable results for vegetarians and those who aren’t big meat eaters. As always, look for quality name brands. Buying creatine in giant 4 pound drums from places like Costco is a bad idea because those knockoff brands are often have useless additives.

Adding some cinnamon to my recipe stabilizes blood sugar and of course makes the drink even tastier. Coconut oil gives provides the body some healthy fats and makes the drink more filling. It's important to also drink enough water throughout the day because creatine and coffee can cause some dehydration. Caffeine tries to flush the water out of the body while creatine tries to retain it. This interaction can leave you feeling dehydrated if you’re not drinking water.

There are several additional health benefits to drinking coffee. To learn more please check out my youtube video on the topic

Magnesium: This Deficiency Can Harm Your Health

Magnesium Deficiency

Nearly 85% of Americans are magnesium deficient. Eating the occasional banana will not solve this problem either. In fact you would have to eat more than nine bananas just to reach the recommended daily intake. Green leafy vegetables are some of the best sources of magnesium, but even those are lacking nowadays due to depleted soil from current farming methods. Magnesium is vital for protein synthesis, nerve function, blood sugar control, and energy production. Deficiencies can result in muscle cramping, difficult fat loss, lactic acid buildup, excessive anxiety, constipation, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and more. The following habits may cause the body to excrete magnesium and cause deficiency: ingesting too much sugar, drinking lots of coffee, and drinking lots of carbonated drinks. Strenuous exercise will also cause the body to excrete magnesium.

I supplement with a 400mg capsule of liquid magnesium each night before bed. It has some “side effects,” but they’re not the type of side effects you’re used to hearing about. Minutes after ingesting the capsule, I begin to feel my muscles relax and I’m ready for sleep. This is because magnesium decreases cortisol, the stress hormone that can cause insomnia. It feels like some sort of very mild sleeping pill without any groggy effects in the morning. The other added benefit is something I notice in the morning. Ingesting the recommended amount of daily magnesium promotes healthy regular bowel movements. It has a laxative effect because it draws water to the stools, which makes them softer and easier to pass.

Improve Your Metabolism with Coffee

What was once thought of as a bad habit can actually have a lot of beneficial health effects. For starters, drinking a simple cup of caffeinated coffee can actually promote fat loss. Clinical research shows that coffee can increase your metabolic rate, improve exercise performance, improve satiety, and decrease food cravings. The reasoning behind this is caffeine promotes catecholamine release, which will help you exercise at a higher level. It also increases rates of lipolysis which will allow you to exercise for a longer period of time before exhaustion. Coffee also contains chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that can slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream. This is excellent for diabetics, pre-diabetics or those with metabolic syndrome

Before I exercise I like to have a cup of black coffee mixed with "Classic Cappuccino with Fiber" (Pictured above: The nutritionally designed product carried in our office).

Before I exercise I like to have a cup of black coffee mixed with "Classic Cappuccino with Fiber" (Pictured above: The nutritionally designed product carried in our office).

Each person has their own level of sensitivity to caffeine, so dosage varies. For effective fat loss and hunger suppression, its best to cycle caffeine on and off to increase the effects of fat loss. The longer you roast the coffee, the more chlorogenic acid you lose. I recommend medium roasts because they retain about fifty percent of the chlorogenic acid while the remaining portion forms quinic acid and caffeic acid, which can also promote fat loss. Clinical research shows that coffee consumption can also decrease  the rates of alcoholic liver disease, liver cancers, fatty livers,  heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer's.