It seems like every week there is some news article talking about a supplement or plant or berry that is supposed to give us more energy. While this mass of contradictory information can be daunting, it’s important to understand that diet does in fact influence your energy levels.
Part of the problem is the cultural shift away from certain foods that has taken place in the last few hundred years or more. Humans used to eat lots of whole foods, like berries, whole grains, etc. The manufacturing age started producing certain kinds of food in mass, meaning they became cheaper and more ubiquitous. Americans eat too much processed grain, processed oils, breads, and packaged food now, none of which helps our metabolic function.
As a general rule, a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables will help you avoid fatigue and sleep disorders. A healthy diet tends to affect all aspects of the body’s functioning, including mental systems. This is no surprise, as every cell in the body needs fuel of some kind. How we fuel our bodies affects how our body functions.
What to avoid:
This is where the controversy begins. Over the span of the last few decades, every food under the sun has been condemned for making us tired or unhealthy. So what foods actually matter?
Dr. Steven Gundry, renowned heart surgeon and diet researcher, says that many of the foods that harm our energy levels are actually part of the health food craze. Specifically, he says soy products, wheatgrass and goji berries are harmful to our metabolism and energy levels.
He also says to avoid lectins, which are common in wheat, tomatoes, potatoes and other common foods. We simply eat too much wheat and potatoes as a culture.
What to eat:
Dr. Gundry’s research shows that dark berries are a vital source of phytochemicals, which natural compounds vital for healthy metabolism and energy levels. A particularly beneficial phytochemical is polyphenol. His research shows that our prehistoric ancestors had more energy than we do today. He says that is because they ate lots of berries with polyphenols, ate meat sparingly, and relied on roots as well.
Polyphenols may also help vascular health, inhibit tumor growth, and have many other well-researched benefits. They may also affect hormone function, which is key to energy regulation. Besides dark berries like blueberries, these are some other foods rich in polyphenols:
- Raw cacao
- Black olives
While polyphenols are important, most fruits and vegetables have helpful phytochemicals in them, so the main goal should be to eat more fruits and veggies.