Age does seem to play a trick on our energy levels and health but not in all of us! We normally don’t find a kid running out of energy anytime during the day. Somehow, they seem to replenish their lost energy stores with a glass of milk, some pranks on friends/parents or with a power nap. But look at us! What a pity! We seem to lose our stamina, get fatigued more often, fight off sleepiness even after sleeping through the night and lack energy quite often. Maybe, this is inevitable and we should simply accept the fact that ageing brings this all? Absolutely not! I don’t deny that there is a scientific explanation for the energy shortage but we also need to accept the fact that our lifestyle too has a direct impact on our energy levels.
Mitochondria Might Not Be All that Counts
Mitochondria, powerhouse of the cell, converts oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and ATP exists as the chemical energy ‘currency’ of the cell that powers the cell’s metabolic activities. Ageing causes a drop in the production of mitochondria which in turn causes decreased production of ATP. This is inevitable and acceptable. Sometimes, health conditions too can make us fatigued but apart from these there are certain lifestyle routines that evidently hit our energy brakes and contribute towards fatigue. Correcting these habits can bring back the lost energy into your life making you the charming person once again.
Guess it’s Stress: What is life without spice? We do have our share of stressors and speed breakers but breaking these hurdles and moving forward gives us a complete sense of accomplishment in life. During such times of stress our body releases cortisol hormones that reduce the production of ATP and increase inflammation (which again decreases ATP production). Choosing to overcome stress with techniques such as meditation, yoga, exercises or tai chi lowers cortisol levels. Talk to your friend, go for a comic play or take a stroll to enjoy the fresh air outside-do this just for 10-15 minutes and you would be renewed with a dose of energy.
Staying without Sleep: This again increases cortisol and inflammation levels. Sleep-related problems such as sleep apnea can cause reduced blood oxygen levels which in turn affect ATP production. Electronic gadgets and social media are also equal troublemakers prohibiting us from taking a good night’s sleep daily. Follow certain principles to accommodate a healthy sleep. Keep your bedroom gadget-free, dim the lights when its time for sleep, light scented candles to keep you well, turn off any loud music and keep your room cool to bring in calm and serenity to your mind enabling you to go to sleep peacefully.
Diet Riot: We trouble ourselves and our body greatly to achieve weight-related goals-by starving, depriving our body of the required food portions and not providing it with the nutrients required. Such actions deprive our body of ATP production and increase tiredness. Eating out and partying has increased our risk of inflammation which decreases ATP production and energy replenishment. Elderly people need the same nutrients but with reduced calorie numbers that causes them to skip many foods unknowingly. It is recommended that elderly people meet a reputed dietitian or nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com so that they are given the perfect diet plan to stick with their recommended calorie portions but fulfill nutrient requirements too. In general, it is recommended for all people of any group to eat more of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins and low-fat dairy. Go for small snacks in between your meals that are once again rich in nutrients, something like a fruit bowl, puffed rice or popcorns without butter to provide you with continuous energy and fewer blood spikes.
Save your Beverage: A sugary drink might provide energy but the levels drain down as fast as they had appeared causing fatigue. Stay balanced-avoid too much of caffeine or alcohol and too little of fluids such as water. Ensure that you never drink caffeinated drinks at least within 6 hours of bedtime otherwise it definitely disrupts your sleep routine. Remember, its not only liquids that count as part of your daily fluid requirements. Even fruits such as melons and veggies such as cucumbers that have ample water content in them are part of the overall number game-8 glasses of liquid per day and the number finally varies according to the individual’s body.
Sedentary Behavior: Muscle mass and bone density decrease as we grow old. Lean muscle mass is a contributing factor for a decrease in the number of mitochondria and ATP. Staying sedentary only aggravates the problem by weakening muscles and causing them to lose energy inefficiently. By exercising, you increase muscle strength thereby increasing ATP production and production of energy-producing brain chemicals. The general recommendation is to perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week which comes to 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week. You can split the duration according to your convenience. Maybe 10 minutes in the morning, 10 min in the afternoon and 10 min in the night. Any activity that you perform is better than doing nothing at all. It could even be climbing a flight of stairs or walking while talking during meetings.
Seclusion: We need people around us. Interaction with others fills us with energy and makes us look forward to another day in life. If you choose to stay isolated it can be linked to depression and depression is a risk factor for fatigue. Staying connected with people releases chemicals that make us happy, avoids production of cortisol or stress hormones and keeps us sane. Ensure that you bond with other people over the weekend-it might be your family, friends or neighbors.
When you correct these issues and have a positive outlook to life, living becomes a pleasure rather than a pain.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.