We live in a fast-paced, busy society. In a world of saying "yes" to everything, no wonder everyone is so tired. Of course everyone would love to sleep eight hours a night, but to be honest, eight hours of sleep is a dream for most folks. So how do spread-thin, sleep-deprived individuals to get through the day? Drink caffeine, lattes, tea, and sodas?
Though coffee and tea have proven health benefits, they still may not be the best prescription. Soft drinks also can have a negative impact on our health. But the real potential for danger lies with energy drinks.
Energy drinks are technically sold as dietary supplements and have no nutritional labels. No label means there is no way to identify what’s in them. Scary! Even scarier, energy drink manufacturers aren’t even required to disclose how much caffeine is actually in the drink.
Technically, it is safe for most adults to consume 400 mg of caffeine a day. (For reference, one cup of coffee has about 80 mg.) But instead of turning to a mystery energy drink or another high-calorie, high-sugar fancy coffee drink, why not try eating for energy!
Juan Gavalda, MD, family medicine physician on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, recommends three things that will help individuals stay energized all day long:
▪ Complex carbs–The brain and central nervous system’s preferred energy source is glucose. Glucose is found in carbohydrates like fruit, whole-grain pastas, cereal, bread, beans, potatoes, and rice. Dietary guidelines recommend that 45 to 65 percent of your total calorie intake come from complex carbohydrates, which have more nutrition and fiber. Think fruits, vegetables, beans, potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat bread, milk, and yogurt. Simple carbs are things like candy, cake, donuts, white bread, white rice, and baked goods. Be sure to spread your carb intake evenly throughout the day.
▪ Magnesium–Did you know magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body? In fact, magnesium is needed for over 300 chemical and enzymatic processes. This mineral helps you take energy from food and turn it into new proteins. It also helps keep your bones, muscles, and nerves healthy. Deficiency can lead to fatigue, headaches, anxiety, and more. The best sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and whole grains. Aim for three servings of dark greens a week and a serving (1/4 cup) of raw nuts daily.
▪ Water–Want more energy? Be sure you are drinking your water! Not enough fluid can lead to fatigue and headaches. Drinking a cup of water can easily reverse these symptoms. Aim for a half to one cup every hour. An added bonus is that individuals will have to get up and go to the bathroom more often, and that means extra steps!
Here are some other energizing snack suggestions:
▪ ¼ cup of almonds with ¼ cup of dried fruit
▪ ½ a banana with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
▪ Small apple with 1 ounce of low-fat cheese
▪ 5 whole-grain crackers with 1 ounce of low-fat cheese or hummus
▪ ½ a sandwich on whole-grain bread
▪ 3 cups of light microwaved popcorn
▪ ½ cup of berries with ¼ cup of walnuts
Keep your body energized and healthy this summer, and don’t forget an annual physical exam.
To find a Methodist Mansfield physician, visit MethodistHealthSystem.org or call 1-877-637-4297.
Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System.