Really? There are foods that can help me stay energized, focused and positive all day long? Yes!
Sustain your activity and enjoy calm focus throughout the day by favoring foods that have a low glycemic index (GI). The key to these foods is that they help maintain balanced blood sugar.
Changes in our blood sugar level correlates to changes in our energy level. Low GI foods are those that produce gradual changes in blood sugar levels. High GI foods—those to avoid—cause your glucose levels to spike and your energy to crash. Even worse, these spikes in glucose levels followed by the crash put pressure on the insulin axis and if this happens often, it ultimately damages our stress response, adrenal function, and thyroid function.
Favor these seven foods! The following foods are examples of low GI foods:
- Nuts and seeds
- Oils and fats
- Oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut), oat bran, muesli
- Pasta, converted rice, barley
- 100% stone-ground whole wheat or pumpernickel bread
- Sweet potato, corn, yam, lima/butter beans, peas, legumes and lentils
- Most fruits and non-starchy vegetables
A good resource for more information can be found at www.diabetes.org.
An even more detailed approach is something called the glycemic load (GL). The glycemic load takes into account a food’s whole array of nutrients, which shows a more complete picture. The other components in a food can offset the glycemic index ratio and slow down gut absorption, leading to a more gradual impact on blood sugar levels. The desired scale we want to look for are foods with a GL of less than 10. Take carrots for instance. Pure carrot juice, which represents mostly the fructose component has a high GI of 71 (watch for those big pure carrot juices!) whereas a whole carrot has a relatively load GL of 6. GL is of great importance. For sustained activity and focus during the day, we need to maintain a balanced level of sugar in our blood.
Maintaining a balanced blood sugar level not only helps with our energy. It also helps our mood. Studies have shown a correlation between eating foods with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, proteins and nutrients (a vegetable-focused vegan diet, for example), and the ability to stay more alert and positive, compared to eating high GI or GL foods such as simple carbohydrates.
One study that monitored glucose levels and glycemic variability in women with type 2 diabetes revealed greater glycemic variability to be associated with negative moods and lower quality of life.
The gist is that your ability to stay engaged and alert during the day depends on your ability to maintain balanced energy and balanced blood sugar.
I believe that we need to get familiar and educate ourselves about grains, legumes and seeds. In my Feed the Body + Soul cooking class on February 6, I taught how to wash, soak and cook these important, energy giving foods. When properly planned, a plant-based diet contains all the proteins you need for life!
It is important to consider not only the biochemical breakdown of proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats and carbohydrates of each food, but also the LIFE ENERGY and ESSENCE of each food. Food is alive and so are we, and we want to feed our LIFE FORCE with foods that have energy.
Large corporations and businesses have a vested interest in making us believe that we need to eat animals for protein. It is not true. There are more than 600 million people on planet Earth today who follow a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet, and they are doing just fine. Moreover, it is interesting that fundamentally SPIRITUAL cultures such as in India, are largely vegetarian.
It is important to understand that there is nothing “wrong” with eating animals. It is just a conscious choice that we can exercise or explore.
We suggest that you slowly make changes, and start incorporating more pant-based products (not only vegetables, but also grains, legumes, nuts and seeds) into your diet and minimizing animal products. This in itself can have a positive impact on your energy. But make sure you increase your intake of plant proteins to replace the animal sources that you are reducing or eliminating. You can start by cutting down or eliminating dairy products, because these create inflammation and weaken your intestines.
I am not 100% vegan. I sometimes eat fish, or a piece of cheese. I don’t like to define myself. But most of my diet is plant based.
We are energy. We need foods that contain not only protein and vitamins, but energy, life and essence.
I hope this information helps you to have a broader view of foods and nutrition.