Keeping up with our kids is a draining affair, but does it have to be? This week's Expert Series, we sit down with Senior Pharmacist, Mr Max Chan, on how to boost energy levels!
Many parents will probably agree that keeping up with our little ones can be a draining affair. We will last longer if we’re an energizer bunny but we’re not. Downing mugs of coffee to shock your brain while temporarily effective, is not a healthy option. Then how do we keep up with our young ones?
With the help of Watsons Senior Pharmacist, Mr Max Chan, we bring you ways you can keep up with your little ones that doesn’t include excessive dosage of caffeine intake.
What can parents do to boost their energy? Any natural energy boosters?
For a start, the best way for parents to boost their energy level is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes watching your diet, resting well, exercising, reducing smoking and ruling out other medical reasons for fatigue.
Having a balanced diet and sufficient uninterrupted sleep is the corner stone for good energy levels throughout the day. A balanced diet typically includes the following:
- A quarter plate of whole grains such as brown rice, whole meal bread and oats
- A quarter plate of meat and other foods such as eggs, nuts, beans and low-fat dairy products
- Half a plate of fruits and vegetables
Exercise may seem counterintuitive and cause tiredness after a workout, but it has been shown to promote energy levels in the long term. It is recommended to commit to at least 150 minutes of physical exercise per week. In addition, even though smoking may seem to increase alertness, but it is temporary; cutting down cigarette use will reduce fatigue. Finally, getting a full health check-up can help detect illnesses affecting energy which may be easily cured. Such illnesses include sleep apnea, anemia or thyroid issues.
If the above is inadequate or hard to achieve, natural energy boosters can be added on to anyone’s lifestyle. Vitamin B complex pills, containing a combination of Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12, support bodily energy production and maintain brain function. They can be found commonly as effervescent tablets or oral capsules, useful for a quick energy boost whenever energy may be low during the day. Other supplements that may be effective for fatigue include Panax ginseng and Coenzyme Q10. Panax ginseng supports the body in times of stress, anxiety, and physical exertion while Coenzyme Q10 is naturally occurring in the body for energy production and depletes with age or stress.
More recently at the forefront of supplement research, a form of Vitamin B3 called NAD+ (Nicotinamde adenine dinucleotide) has shown very promising result. This chemical is important for energy production but also depletes naturally from our body due to aging, stresses such as alcohol intake and lack of sleep. By supplementing test subjects with NAD+, studies have shown marked improvement in energy levels throughout the day. This product shows promise but is not as commonly found in stores as other Vitamin B complex products.
What kind of food can lead to food coma easily and parents should be advised to avoid them?
Overeating in general, no matter the kind of food, can lead to food coma. This is the most important factor, and can be managed by reducing food portions or replacing part of the solid meal with soups or low-sugar, low-fat smoothies.
Next, the most potent kinds of foods that cause food coma are refined carbohydrates and processed food that contain a high amount of sugar or fat. It is theorized that these foods spike blood sugar levels, causing insulin surge throughout the body that can worsen food coma.
Besides avoiding these foods, it is more helpful to find healthier replacements that keep hunger at bay while preventing food coma. Sugary treats like milk chocolates should be indulged in minimally. Parents can opt for nuts, low-sugar dried fruits and low-fat yogurt products in place of these treats throughout the day. Refined carbohydrates like white rice and white bread in meals can be cut down and balanced with a larger proportion of other food groups like vegetables, fruits, legumes, low-fat dairy products and lean meat or fish. These foods increase satiety without the potent effects of food coma. Lastly, unrefined carbohydrates like whole-meal bread and brown rice can be used as replacements to provide the same amount of energy as refined carbohydrates without the large spike in blood sugar that causes food coma.
What kind of food can parents consume to boost their energy?
The most common food that can be taken to boost energy would be caffeinated drinks like coffee or tea. The safe upper limit of caffeine to be taken per day is generally about 400mg9, which equals to 4 cups of coffee. This limit may vary from person to person. Excessive side effects to watch out for include migraines, irritability, stomach upset, fast heartbeats and muscle tremors. Caffeine should also be cut back if it affects sleep severely.
Some noteworthy foods to include in meals are dark leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. They are high in vitamins and minerals especially iron, which helps stave off fatigue due to low blood iron levels. The best foods for boosting energy incorporate ingredients like nuts, whole grains and low-fat, low-sugar yogurt. These can come conveniently in the form of a cereal or ‘energy’ bar. They are dense in energy and packed with protein. Ideally, pick products that are lower in sugar content.
Lastly, parents should not neglect a good breakfast in spite of their busy lifestyles. Having a good breakfast has been shown to increase concentration and alertness during the day as compared to those who skip it. Most importantly, it helps to reduce overeating and snacking.
Information provided by the article is solely for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information for diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or disease. Always speak with your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional before taking any medicine or supplement, or adopting any treatment for a health problem. Under no circumstances will Watson’s Personal Care Stores Pte Ltd be liable to any person for damages of any nature arising in any way from the use of such information.
Written by: Chan Wei, Max, Senior Pharmacist (Watsons Bukit Panjang)
Vetted by: Lin Yihong Clara, Pharmacist (Watsons Changi Airport Terminal 3 Transit north)
|Mr Max Chan is the Pharmacist at Watsons Bukit Panjang Plaza. His daily responsibilities include counselling customers with minor ailments, processing prescriptions and providing other clinical services. With close to three years of experience as a retail pharmacist, Max was the recipient for the EXSA Star Award in 2016 and 2017 by the Singapore Retailers’ Association. Voted by the department as the Best Teamplayer (Pharmacist) in 2016, he is also Team Leader for the pharmacy department’s IT and Social Welfare portfolio. In his efforts to reach out to the community, Max has written various articles both online and offline for local publications.|