Women's Health - Shrink Your Sugar Belly - - CONTENTS -

How’s your en­ergy? If you’re flag­ging a bit, don’t panic. You may be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sugar with­drawal, which can cause some peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence tem­po­rary fa­tigue or men­tal fog­gi­ness. While some peo­ple will breeze through Phase 1, oth­ers might well feel a bit pooped, es­pe­cially in those first few sugar-free days. If this sounds like you, th­ese mind-and-body tips can help perk up both your body and your brain. And hang in there, the fa­tigue will pass. In fact, you should feel more en­er­gised as time goes on.

Re­vive with rose­mary

It isn’t just for lamb: the fresh herb’s pleas­ant, spicy scent is a lit­eral eye-opener, sug­gests a study pub­lished in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Neu­ro­science.

Re­searchers gave 40 vol­un­teers EEGs, which mea­sure the brain’s elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity, and had them smell rose­mary for three min­utes both be­fore and af­ter they com­pleted a sim­ple maths test.

The vol­un­teers’ EEGs showed the re­duc­tion of cer­tain brain waves in the frontal cor­tex, which in­di­cates in­creased alert­ness. Keep a small bot­tle of rose­mary es­sen­tial oil in your bag and when that men­tal fog rolls in, just in­hale.

Stoke your in­ner power plant

Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise is a tried-andtested en­ergy booster, with the ben­e­fits start­ing at a cel­lu­lar level. Your cells con­tain tiny struc­tures called mi­to­chon­dria: they con­vert food mol­e­cules into adeno­sine triphos­phate (ATP), a form of en­ergy that cells use. In­ter­est­ingly, ex­er­cise stim­u­lates the de­vel­op­ment of mi­to­chon­dria: over time, your body pro­duces more ATP, en­er­gis­ing your body and brain. US ex­per­i­ments showed that a brisk 10-minute walk pro­vided more en­ergy than a choco­late bar, with the ef­fects last­ing for up to two hours af­ter­wards.

Take flight

If you’re low on en­ergy, you might want to head straight for the lift. But tak­ing the stairs in­stead will give you in­stant pep – it will get your heart pump­ing, al­low­ing oxy­gen-rich blood to surge through your en­tire body, in­clud­ing your brain.

So if your eye­lids start to droop, get up and over to the stairs; climb a flight as quickly as you can and walk at a nor­mal pace on the way down. Do this one more time and pre­pare to feel re-en­er­gised.

Take a break for tea

Tea’s abil­ity to de­liver a re­laxed state of alert­ness may be due to the amino acid L-thea­nine. Re­search in­di­cates that tea’s com­bi­na­tion of caf­feine and L-thea­nine de­liv­ers the same amount of en­ergy as caf­feine alone – but with­out the jit­ters.

One study ex­am­ined the ef­fects of 50mg of L-thea­nine, the amount found in two cups of tea. Re­searchers gave 16 vol­un­teers EEGs as they re­laxed with their eyes closed. Com­pared with 19 other peo­ple who didn’t re­ceive L-thea­nine, the par­tic­i­pants who con­sumed this amino acid showed in­creased al­phawave ac­tiv­ity, in­di­cat­ing a re­laxed but alert men­tal state. Get brew­ing.

Re­ju­ve­nate with gin­seng

Ex­ploit gin­seng, an­other herb known for its en­er­gis­ing qual­i­ties. In a 12-week study of 501 men and women, a group of par­tic­i­pants given a mul­ti­vi­ta­min sup­ple­ment that in­cluded gin­seng re­ported hav­ing more en­ergy and greater well-be­ing than a group that re­ceived a gin­seng-free sup­ple­ment. Try 200mg of a stan­dard­ised ex­tract taken as 100mg twice daily. And stick with brands that are stan­dard­ised to four per­cent gin­seno­sides.

A brisk 10-minute walk was found to pro­vide more en­ergy than a bar of choco­late

Step out­side the box

The “box” in this case refers to the four walls of your of­fice or house: a se­ries of stud­ies found that spend­ing just 20 min­utes out­side in na­ture can in­vig­o­rate you. Re­searchers con­ducted sep­a­rate ex­per­i­ments of 537 col­lege stu­dents. In one ex­per­i­ment, stu­dents were led on a walk ei­ther in­doors or out­side along a tree­lined river path. In an­other, they looked at pho­tos of build­ings or land­scapes. Other ex­per­i­ments had the stu­dents keep di­aries in which they tracked their moods and en­ergy lev­els through­out the day.

The re­sults? The stu­dents con­sis­tently felt more en­er­getic in nat­u­ral set­tings or by imag­in­ing them­selves in those sur­round­ings.

Breathe in some en­ergy

A sim­ple yoga-breath­ing ex­er­cise can clear your mind and raise your en­ergy in min­utes. It’s called bhas­trika, which trans­lates as “bel­lows breath”. Here’s how to do it...

Sit com­fort­ably. Re­lax your shoul­ders and take deep breaths. Be­gin to in­hale and ex­hale rapidly through your nose, keep­ing your mouth closed but re­laxed. Your breaths in and out should be equal in du­ra­tion, but as short as pos­si­ble. Don’t worry about this be­ing noisy – it’s sup­posed to be!

Try three in-and-out breath cy­cles per se­cond. This will pro­duce a quick move­ment of the di­aphragm, sug­gest­ing a bel­lows breath. Breathe nor­mally af­ter each cy­cle. Do this for 15 sec­onds or less on your first try.

Each time you prac­tise, in­crease your time by five sec­onds or so, un­til you reach a full minute. If you feel light-headed, stop for a minute, then start again with a lit­tle less force be­hind your breath­ing.

One more thing: don’t try bel­lows breath­ing be­fore bed, as it can eas­ily keep you from fall­ing asleep!

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