Natural Energy Boosters: Diet And Supplements For More Energy

There are many products on the market that claim to enliven your energy. Learn how you can use natural foods to do the same without worry of additives or enhancements.

"Let the buyer beware," and "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is," are two extremely old but time-tested maxims, especially in the diet-happy society that is today.

The dietary supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar business that is not, as yet, required by law to substantiate either 'natural' or 'all-natural' labeling claims on any of its several hundred products in any form, including capsules, pills, extracts and liquids. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 deems diet supplements part of the food category rather than the drug category, and dating from beyond that law, gives to the Food and Drug Administration the responsibility of proving supplements harmful rather than giving to manufacturers the responsibility of proving a supplement safe, as they must do with prescription drugs.

At this time, diet supplement manufacturers need no prior FDA approval when placing a new product on the consumer market, unless it claims the addition of a brand-new ingredient. Market placement can and does occur long before health concerns may arise, such as the case of the supplement known as Ephedra. In the ten years between the DSHEA and 2004, Ephedra, a Chinese herb marketed as a tool to naturally boost energy, was linked with more than one hundred fifty deaths nationwide. It is now a banned substance, but was widely available for a decade to the public without legal requirements of alerts or warnings by its makers.

Kava kava extract, sold as an all-natural stress reducer and sleeping aid, has been linked to liver failure in studies conducted in Switzerland and Germany, where the substance has been banned. In response to these findings, the FDA is currently requesting U.S. physicians to report any adverse side effects in patients who have used the Kava kava supplement.

With government agencies and physicians showing concerns about dietary supplements previously available to the public, where does this leave the consumer who desires a safe and effective boost of energy? At nature's door, it seems.

ENERGY-ENHANCING FOODS FOUND IN NATURE

There are several foods scientifically proven to boost energy, and they include:

*Potatoes, rich in Vitamin C, copper, magnesium, potassium, fiber, and iron.

*Carrots, which are extremely high in beta-carotene, also high in fiber and minerals.

*Beans, an excellent source of protein, are also high in iron and fiber content.



*Fruits such as cantaloupe and bananas, each with an abundance of vitamins, carbohydrates, and high in fiber. Ripe bananas are almost equally comparable to table sugar in the energy department but do not contribute to "˜sugar-crash,' a term used to define the slow, sluggish aftereffects of eating too many sugary candies,

etc.

*Shredded wheat cereals, which are slow to digest, leaving blood sugar levels stabilized.

*Water, which keeps the body hydrated. Dehydration can zap energy levels quickly.

SOME SURPRISING MYTHS

Coffees, colas, and candy bars all have something in common, a long-believed myth that each will produce loads of extra energy and stamina. It is true that these non-complex carbohydrates do speed us up, but only for a very short time. After the quick pick-me-up these substances provide, a post-sugar-high quickly becomes a lethargic, slow-motion drain on the system. In order to be useful carbohydrates must be of the complex variety, such as meats and grains; consumed this way, the body's blood sugar remains steady rather than spiking at high peaks and falling to extreme lows, which accounts for the often-reported major decrease in energy level.

THE DREADED "˜E' WORD: "EXERCISE"

Some live for it, others would rather the word be stricken from our vocabulary, but consistent exercise does indeed play a role in achieving and sustaining high energy levels. The proof: Lack of energy is the number one health complaint by adult Americans, and little wonder it is, perhaps. This generation was reared on the "˜fast-track' and continues to live there, running to and from work, school, activities, and several other responsibilities that make taking time for exercise seem rather at the bottom of the list. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

Several short sessions of vigorous exercise each week will actually build stamina, both physically and emotionally. Even something as seemingly easy as walking boosts the heart rate and improves muscle tone, two factors in keeping physically fit and energized. The powerful endorphins released in the brain with short, consistent rounds of exercise are extremely helpful in the cause against emotional fatigue; they leave both the mind and body with a feeling of energy and ability for endurance.

HEALTHY, NATURAL TIPS FOR ENERGY

*Get Enough Sleep: Lack of sleep can and does lead to chronic fatigue. The body requires sleep to rebuild strength from each day's wear and tear.

*Get the Right Foods: Eating enough, and enough of the right foods, is critical. Deprivation of foods can lead to both fatigue and depression.

*Steer Clear of caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. All are proven to affect rest.

*Check with your physician about your iron levels. Lack of this important mineral will

most definitely keep you from feeling your best.

*Don't Skip Breakfast: It rewinds the body after a night of rest, regulates blood sugar and helps boost your first and most important level of energy for the day.

If you find yourself interested in dietary supplements or products that promise extra energy, ask your physician or pharmacist for help in deciding upon which they may recommend.

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