#MS, MS, general

Energy – cross and delight

The vast majority of people  strive to achieve and maintain a high energy level early in the morning and throughout the day. However, this is one of the biggest topics I believe no one can understand and it can’t be fully explained: being tired even if you haven’t done much. This constant fatigue can be utterly overwhelming and frustrating. 

I started to feel different from the early days when I became vegan, eating, for example, nuts, fruits, seeds, pulses, grains, vegetables and mushrooms and avoiding animal products. My body and mind were so energised and rejuvenated, it was a feeling I’ve never experienced before. As the disease has accompanied me for over 21 years and the  change in nutrition has been embraced nearly 11 years ago, I have experienced and can certainly testify the radical difference between the first half of the “journey” with MS and the second half, where the pattern has been completely overturned. 

Having said that, the tiredness associated with chronic conditions can’t be erased completely. Nevertheless, I strongly believe, and have experienced, that life can massively improve by fighting the tiredness back as I have done, keep implementing and never felt better.  

The energising power of a healthy diet is mostly due to the difficulty our digestive system encounters when metabolising food. Indeed, animal products continue to putrefy in our gastrointestinal tract and release substances (such as, endotoxins and amines). These are extremely toxic for our digestive organs, and also weaken our own healthy bacteria or microbiota as explained in the previous blog post.  

Other molecules that are strictly associated with animal food consumption are saturated fatty acids. These harmful substances cause impairment in the blood system, with difficulties for blood vessels to dilate and constrict due to an increase of the “bad” cholesterol in the circulation (which clogs our bloodstream and causes inflammation). Consequently, the body requires more oxygen, but its transportation to vital organs – as heart and brain – has been limited. These events immediately have negative effects on our mental clarity and body energy level.  

Conversely, a plant based diet has an ample spectrum of nutrients that are beneficial for each and every cell in our body for the production of energy. Moreover, the majority of plant based food has a high water level, which helps increase the oxygen level.

Key is also the amount of protein that can be found in seeds like quinoa, or legumes like soya and vitamin-rich food such as, mushrooms and spinach, which also contains iron, essential for oxygen-blood transportation. 

It must be pointed out that a vegan diet is not free from saturated fats. Indeed, eating store-bought, highly processed and/or fried products can easily increase the amount of salt, sugar, and saturated fats in the body with undesired detrimental consequences. 

Honestly, I’m guilty as charged as every now and then I, too, reach for some “quick fixes”. However, it is important to keep these defiance to the minimum and carefully pay attention to the effects that processed foods have on our bodies in order to nourish our system appropriately. 

More recently, I have ditched coffee altogether. This is a weird behaviour change as I’m Italian, and, in the past, I’ve reached a point where I was drinking 8 shots of strong espresso in 6 hours during my first university degree. 

Avoiding caffeine helps with the sleep pattern as the caffeine content is only halved 5 hours after drinking this addictive beverage. Therefore, coffee drinkers still have 25% of caffeine in the body after 10 hours. 

Green tea is a more nutritious alternative to coffee. It contains medicinal  antioxidants as well as minerals and has protective qualities for the heart,  liver, and brain, among other organs. 

Differently from coffee, green tea is highly hydrating and also contains an amino acid (L-theanine) that, combined with less caffeine, boosts brain functions and provides a steady energy level. 

Therefore, green tea is highly recommended when dealing with chronic conditions and in general.

Another surprising and welcome improvement has been the discovery of the benefit of working out. Indeed, I definitely feel more energised  after (most) daily physical activities. 

It might sound counterintuitive as clearly exercising can only lead to exhaustion, right? Not at all! 

In fact, regular movements increase the oxygen circulation in the body. The oxygen is also used by “energy powerhouses” in every cell of the body (namely, mitochondrias), and the more we exercise, the more mitochondrias are produced in the muscle cells. Moreover, physical activities índuce the release of the hormones endorphins just after one hour of aerobic, cardio, or moderate-intensity exercises. These neurotransmitters help with pain reduction, reduce stress level, and feeling more energetic. 

All in all, the more we exercise, the more vitality and energy we experience. 

Moreover, movements throughout the morning and early afternoon facilitate a restorative night sleep that is of paramount importance for a productive and vigorous day ahead. 

An additional note needs to be added for the outstanding uplifting power of chocolate. I’m talking specifically about dark chocolate. 

Although it’s chemically related to coffee, it contains less caffeine and more antioxidants. Some of these help to increase blood flow, consequently, providing more nutrients and oxygen to the muscle mass. Another  antioxidative nutrient (theobromine) is responsible for the rich bitter taste of dark chocolate and it  stimulates the central nervous system by providing mental clarity and acuity. 

It also contains iron, which helps to create oxygen-rich blood cells. 

As mentioned, the healthiest choice would be dark chocolate – the highest the percentage (that is the amount of cacao mass contained in a chocolate bar), the better.

Personally, I prefer and can testify the energy spike and mental alertness after eating the purest forms of this beam-derived goodness such as, cacao nibs or cacao powder that are naturally 100% raw cacao.

Signing off now to a powerful gym session,


Alex ☺

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