Upon feelings of fatigue, it has become our natural response to reach for an energy drink, dark chocolate square or comfort food. The result, however wonderful, is short-lived. Energy boosters will stimulate surges of energy, but deeply exhaust the body in the process. Sadly, each time the energy goes up as a result of a double espresso, it will crash into a deeper hole. To pull out of that hole, the brain must find a stronger stimulant.
With a million Americans suffering from fatigue and many more complaining of chronic tiredness, this is not a small problem. (1) To find a source of lasting energy, we must address the underlying cause of tiredness.
Below are ten Ayurvedic secrets to unearthing pure energy and contentment, without the stimulants.
#1: Test your Energy Aid
As a result of stimulating the nervous system to make energy it doesn’t really have, the adrenals and other energy-producing centers of the body become depleted. There are many energy drinks and supplements on the market that promise to supply you with never-ending energy, “without the crash.”
Here is my “acid test” to determine if the energy aid is paying back energy debt or incurring more:
A healthy energy aid should be able to boost energy in the morning, and if taken before bed, it should allow you a restful sleep – because it is deeply rejuvenative and not a stimulant. If you take the energy aid at night and it wires you and disturbs your sleep, it is a stimulant in disguise. These types of products will slowly deplete your reserves, and in time take tolls on your energy, sleep, mood and focus.
Here are my favorite energy aids that can be taken in the AM for energy, as well as before bed for a good night’s sleep:
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnefera)
- Brahmi (Centella asiatica)
- Ojas-Builders (see below)
#2: Pay Back Energy Debt with Rejuvenative Herbs and by Building Ojas
In Ayurveda, the best way to pay back energy debt is to build “ojas.” Ojas is best translated as “vitality,” and is the most refined component of digestion. Ojas builds immunity, energy, virility, radiant complexion and a joyful and loving temperament.
While in the west we think of the digestive process lasting about 4 hours, in Ayurveda it lasts 30 days, and ojas is the final product. To help boost the production of ojas, there are certain herbs, activities and foods that help.
- Bonding with another person or loved one
- True love – giving yourself fully to your partner
- Caring for others
- Giving unconditionally without expectations
While ojas has not been identified by western science as of yet, many believe that ojas is actually the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is the bonding hormone that is secreted by the mother, the baby and even the dad during childbirth. This hormone bonds the family for life. It is produced when you give, love, bond, touch and care for others. But there is a catch – you must do it unconditionally, with no needs or expectations.
- Raw honey
- Organic non-homogenized, vat-pasteurized or raw milk
Make an Ojas Energy and Sleep Drink
Take 1/4 teaspoon each of ghee, dates, almonds, coconut flakes and saffron and bring to a boil in milk. Add raw honey and drink in the morning and before bed.
Note: All of these ingredients have been well-studied to provide healthy sources of sustainable energy.
#3: Get Off the Roller Coaster
In 1980, the government began subsidizing farmers to grow wheat and corn in an attempt to eradicate hunger. Back then no one knew that wheat and corn would be processed in such a way that they would be worse for you than white table sugar. The result is a culture with blood sugar concerns of epidemic levels, the inability to burn fat and an insatiable desire for sweets. The way to break this cycle is to force the body to burn fat as a source of fuel the way the body was designed.
Stop eating processed foods with added sugars and start eating good sources of fat, such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
#4: Reset Fat Burning Ayurveda-style and Get your Energy Back!
As a culture, Americans have lost the ability to burn fat. Inundated with added sugars in almost every product on the shelves, our bodies have adapted to burn sugar as our energy supply, when fat is our bodies preferred energy source! Of course, both work in the body as fuel – but fat is way more efficient and long-lasting compared to sugar. Sugar is quickly depleted in the body, and can leave the body completely exhausted, craving, and carrying around extra weight. Basically, we need to train our bodies to start burning fat instead of sugar. We can do so by changing our eating habits with the goal of avoiding spikes in blood sugar by implementing the fat-burning suggestions below. Learn more and find the references for these strategies in the Blood Sugar category of my article archives.
#5. Eat Three Meals a Day with No Snacks
Eating three meals per day burns fat in between each meal and through the night, which we are designed to do.
- Don’t eat late at night – studies show the later you eat, the harder it is to lose weight.
- Make lunch a bigger meal – studies show we digest better in the middle of the day (and this is traditional around the world).
- Stop snacking – studies show we eat 100% more food than we need. Have nothing but water between meals to force fat burning and achieve stable energy.
- Our bodies are 60-80% water. It is essential to deliver energy to the cells.
- Sip hot water the best you can throughout the day.
- Drink half your body weight in ounces a day.
#7. Boost Digestion
- Drink 8-12oz of water 15-30 min before food to pre-hydrate the stomach and fire up digestion.
- Take cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger, and cardamom (LifeSpa’s Gentle Digest formula) before or with meals to fire up the fat burners and deliver energy to the cells.
- Take a short rest – after the big mid-day meal, take a rest on your left side.
#8. Eat Foods for Energy
- Nut and seed butters
- Ayurvedic Energy spread: sesame seed butter (tahini) is loaded in B vitamins, vitamin E and minerals.
- Vegetables – leafy greens, kale, spinach, chard and watercress
- Root vegetables – beets, yams, carrots, and potatoes
- Fats – coconut oil, olive oil, ghee and fish oils
- Complex carbs – oats, barely, quinoa, millet, amaranth
#9. Eat Balanced Meals
- Aim for 1/2 veggies, 1/4 starch, 1/4 protein on your plate.
- Example of a balanced plate: Chicken 1/4, cooked veggies 1/4, yam 1/4, salad 1/4 – olive oil as dressing.
#10. Fresh Air and Exercise
- Ayurvedic Exercise
- Take a walk breathing through the nose to drive more prana (life force) into the body.
Photos: Morguefile.com, Unsplash.com
Reproduced with permission from Dr. John Douillard, DC © January 22, 2015. Original Document, 10 Ayurvedic Secrets for Pure Energy and Contentment.