If it feels like you are still slogging though times of uncertainty, apprehension and exhaustion, you are most certainly not alone. After 10 months of living through social distancing protocols, working from home, and cold winter months inside, most people are quite simply “over it”. I know I am.
“Lockdown fatigue” is a common term used to describe the sluggish, lack of energy, and low moods that have a grip on many of us during these tedious and uncertain times.
While short periods of lethargy and inactivity are not harmful, long periods will age the body in unfavorable ways. This may show up in the form of symptoms such as unwanted weight gain, brain fog and depression to name a few.
With spring just a few steps ahead, this is the perfect time to reboot your health to support better moods, energy and sleep. Do this easily by making small changes to your day to day life.
1. Hack your Sleep
Its no secret that sleep or lack there of will make or break your day. Poor sleep habits leave you with lower energy levels and fewer positive emotions. Poor sleep patterns are often due to stress levels both internal and external. Considering the confines of COVID, the amount of time spent under blue lights on your computer or screen is an internal stressor that will affect how much of the sleep “hormone” melatonin you produce. Below are some bio hacks that can be used to strengthen your sleep cycle.
Break from your screen for at least an hour before bed.
Short wave blue light is emitted from electronics. Blue light adversely affects mitochondria and disrupts melatonin production. If you can't take an hour break before bed, wear blue blocking glasses and use light filtering devices such as flux on your computer to block the light. (I wear caddy's and use flux on my computer but there are many different tools, just make sure they are proven to block the blue light frequency affectively).
Use blackout curtains.
This simple adjustment in the bedroom will help you attain deeper sleep cycles. Studies have shown that people that are exposed to more light when they sleep deal with more depression than people who sleep in pure darkness.
Turn off WIFI at night.
WIFI emits a non ionizing form of radiation when in use. This radiation is also known as a Electromagnetic field or EMF. EMF's exposure creates free radicals in the body that can be reduced if you switch off WIFI while you sleep and the less inflammation in your body, the better you will sleep.
Melatonin taken half an hour before bed to support deeper and more restful sleep. Our bodies produce the sleep hormone naturally but melatonin can also be used as a supplement to support your sleep cycle.
Magnesium L -threonate
This unique form of magnesium penetrates the blood brain barrier and is especially helpful for calming the nervous system which helps with anxiety, depression and sleep.
A safe and non psychoactive cannabinoid used to both calm the nervous system and help to facilitate sleep. Its important to do your research before you buy CBD so you know what you are getting. Some brands will offer a CBD isolate while others use broad- spectrum CBD containing other cannabinoids and terpenes.
For more information on CBD:
If you benefit from looking at your personal data and your sleep is not where you want it to be, you would likely benefit from using a sleep tracking device such as a fitbit or an aura ring. Sleep tracking devices will monitor your oxygen levels, heart rate, body temperature to name a few and is able to collect data like your sleeping duration, interruptions, snoring and how much light deep and REM sleep you are getting.
For more information on the benefits of sleep : https://www.radiantrealitynutrition.com/2016/09/25/your-sleep-can-make-or-break-your-health-9-ways-to-elevate-your-sleep/
2. Cultivate Radiant Energy
Your body needs abundant amounts of energy to thrive. Your Mitochondria are little power plants within your cells that provide the energy to power your body. If you are dealing with fatigue, obesity, brain fog and poor recovery after exercise, your mitochondrial may be signaling for more support.
If you are exposed to mold, pesticides, EMF’s, air pollution or take medications such as antibiotics, mood stabilizers, statins or acetaminophen, your mitochondria bear the brunt of this.
In order to have proper energy, you need to support your mitochondria properly. Increase your mitochondrial energy by eating healthy fats and antioxidants, taking in specific nutrients and by removing stressors that compromise your energy.
Increase the red light
Mitochondria are similar to plants in that they need different forms of light to thrive. Long wavelength red light enhances mitochondrial function and also reduces the effects of blue light. The mitochondrial electron transport chain is photosensitive to red and near infrared light. Studies show it helps to reduce inflammation, improves blood flow and enhances the performance of mitochondria in the cell. Red light therapy can increase the number of mitochondria and boost their function in the cell.
Decrease the blue light
Short wave blue light is emitted from electronics and has adverse affects on mitochondria. Wearing blue blocking glasses when working on the computer and installing blue blocking technology such as Caddies and Flux helps reduce blue light exposure. This is especially helpful before bed as blue blocking glasses will help to encourage the production of melatonin to help you sleep soundly.
Get out into the sunshine
The sun is a more efficient source of electrons than food. Your mitochondria actually need the flow of electrons to keep your energy strong.
When morning arrives and sunlight filters through the eyes it triggers the suppression of melatonin which is the sleeping hormone. It also increases adrenaline. If we don’t get the suns fulls spectrum light, our internal clock gets confused. We also need the spectrum because it's red light powers our mitochondria.
Eat lots of healthy fats
Healthy fats protect mitochondria by providing anti-inflammatory support. While mitochondria can use either fatty acids or carbohydrates to produce energy, healthy fats are more efficient and creates fewer free radical by-products. Oily fish, avocado, coconut flaxseed and olive are top choices for these fats.
The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carb diet that uses ketones to create ATP rather than glucose for energy. The keto diet has been shown to increase mitochondrial function by triggering the formation of mitochondria in cells through mitohormesis. This diet has been shown to greatly increase mitochondrial function.
Use Nutrients to boost mitochondria
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids help to build up the mitochondria’s protective membranes. The stronger the membrane, the less cell damage and more energy result.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Alpha lipoic acid is a potent fat and water soluble antioxidant that also acts as a anti inflammatory. Clinically a-lipoic acid has been used to improve cognitive and mitochondrial function which is linked to healthy cognition through the aging process.
Studies show this nutrient works best when taken in tandem with ALC as ALC is loaded with protective antioxidants.
Acetyl L Carnitine( ALC)
ALC works to increase cellular ATP while also restoring mitochondrial function and increasing the abundance of other protective antioxidants. ALC has been shown to increase the flow of free fatty acids, the fuel source for mitochondria which results in a boost in energy production. ALC has been extensively studied for its effects on the aging process as ATP decreases with age.
*Research finds that ALC shows most benefits when taken along side ALA. This is because ACL helps to power the mitochondrial engine while ALA acts as an antioxidant oil to keep the engine working smoothly.
COQ10 is necessary cofactor in the electron transfer chain . Coq10 helps cells to produce energy by supporting the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Coq 10 also stimulates the immune system and acts as an antioxidant in mitochondrial membranes. As we age our bodies production declines so it is helpful to use in supplement form as we get older.
*It should be noted that research is now finding that the benefits of CoQ10 can be significantly boosted by PQQ.
PQQ is an enzyme cofactor that possesses anti -oxidative, neuroprotective and cardioprotective properties that encourage mitochondrial biogenesis.
Nearly every person is deficient in the mineral Magnesium. It is also a crucial mineral necessary for mitochondrial health. This cofactor is needed for mitochondrial enzymes to function properly and make new mitochondria. Magnesium has the unique ability to activate ATP before it can be used by cells. Dysregulation of magnesium homeostasis is involved in various cellular malfunctions and diseases.
For more information on supporting mitochondrial health:
3. Support your “feel good” neurotransmitters.
It is normal to cycle through different emotions during the day. We are frequently affected by our environment and the people in it and this can often influence our moods. Cue the moody teenager angry at the world because its his turn to do the dishes. ;) . Jokes aside, if you are struggling with a negative state of mind that is impacting your quality of life , its something to pay attention to, because it will affect your hormones, cardiovascular function, sleep rhythm and immune system. If your moods feels consistently low, it is important to get to the root of the problem and if you need support please reach out to a trusted health care professional for proper guidance.
In general, when moods need support, it can be helpful to look first at the gut health. Believe it or not, your gut bacteria are a huge part of the picture when it comes to your happiness. Gut bacteria both produce and respond to neurochemicals such as GABA, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine and melatonin. These are the same neurochemicals that the brain uses for moods. Feeding your gut bacteria the right foods is the first step to feeling better inside.
Eat foods high in omega3’s like wild salmon, fiber rich veggies, foods high in zinc like egg yolk, oysters and cashews, and probiotic filled yogurt. All these foods will feed your body and support the release of hormones like serotonin and dopamine. Junk food actually will do the opposite due to the inflammatory cascade it causes during the digestion process.
Epsom salt baths replenish magnesium stores and is renown for its calming effect on the body. If the body is tired and achy or stressed, anxious or depressed, an epsom salt bath can be an extremely therapeutic tool to have on hand.
Taking a 20- 50 minute walk each day has been shown in randomized trials to be as good or better than taking an antidepressant for mild to moderate depression. I often recommend taking notes in a journal before and after to chart your progress.
Nutrients for brain health
B vitamins are the backbone of healthy neurotransmitter function. While each person has bio individual needs, B vitamins in general are necessary building blocks for happy moods. I often recommend starting with methylated B vitamins, focusing on B12, B6 and folic acid.Folic acid and vitamin B12 are involved in the synthesis of serotonin and other neurotransmitters and B12 deficiency has been found in many patients who have depression, decreased attention, concentration and memory.
GABA naturally inhibits neural activity which facilitates sleep, reduces mental and physical stress, lowers anxiety and depression and helps to facilitate a calm state. Its use has been studied extensively for its inhibitory effects on the brain.
Magnesium L- threonate
We need Magnesium for virtually all of our cell functions and it's a critical cofactor for healthy neurotransmitters. While there are many forms of magnesium on the marker, magnesium L- threonate has the unique ability to cross the blood brain barrier which helps to calm and settle the brain and body. This is especially helpful before bed.
For more information on the health benefits of magnesium: https://www.radiantrealitynutrition.com/2019/07/01/magnesium-why-our-bodies-need-it-and-how-to-maintain-it/
As we continue to adjust to this new normal, take some time to implement some of these suggestion to support your body mind and spirit. We are all in this together and if we take care of ourselves and each other, the world will be a better place for it.
Wishing you a Radiant Reality