We are robbed of energy for a myriad of reasons. A poor diet, excessive or chronic stress, an imbalance of certain hormones or even a lack of exercise can contribute to a sluggish feeling. One of the most important things you can do to improve your energy is to ensure that you are getting ample, quality sleep. This recent study on melatonin looks at the hormone’s ability to support more restful sleep. Remember, the body naturally produces this hormone and usually only declines in production when we are older, meaning that if we supplement when we don’t actually need it, then we might trick our body into not producing the hormone since we are providing it with a supplement.
Did you know dark chocolate may be good for stress? Enjoy this information on dark chocolate and stress, along with a recipe for “Chocolate Energy” to give your mind and spirit a boost as you seek increased energy.
Melatonin Improves Sleep
It can be hard to sleep in a hospital intensive care unit (ICU) because overnight noise and light suppress the natural release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. In this study, doctors simulated an ICU room and gave 40 healthy people no treatment, a placebo, 1 mg of oral melatonin at 9:00 p.m. for four nights, or simply access to earplugs and eye masks.
While the earplugs and eye masks were better than no treatment or placebo, those who took melatonin saw the biggest improvement in sleep quality, more complete phases of rapid-eye movement and non-rapid-eye movement sleep, and elevated melatonin levels.
Reference: Critical Care; 2015, Vol. 19, No. 1, 124
De-Stress with Dark Chocolate
Chocolate protects the heart, but doctors don’t fully understand how. In this study, 65 healthy men aged 20 to 50 ate dark chocolate with or without 125 mg of its naturally occurring antioxidant flavonoids, two hours before a stress test. The test was an interview requiring mental arithmetic in front of an audience.
Doctors measured the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine before chocolate, and before and after the test. Stress increased in both groups but the chocolate flavonoid group produced less cortisol and epinephrine, suggesting lower levels of stress. Researchers concluded eating dark chocolate can have a stress-protective effect.
Reference: Journal of the American College of Cardiology; 2014, Vol. 63, No. 21, 2297-9
Chocolate Energy (recipe)
Once you taste these treats, and feel the energy, you’ll want to keep them on hand all the time!
1 c raw cashews
1 c cacao powder
1 c carob powder
1/4 c hemp seeds
1/2 c coconut oil
1/3 c honey
1 c shredded dried coconut
Directions: Place cashews in food processor and grind into a crumbly powder. Add all other ingredients and blend until reaching a doughy consistency. Roll into bite-sized balls and cover with shredded coconut. Keep in refrigerator for a quick energy boost anytime.
Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before taking a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition or take medications. For example, cocoa thins blood.
Article copyright 2016 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.