Lost your spark? Reboot with top tips from health expert Yuri Elkaim
If fatigue is something that’s plagued your life for as long as you can remember, putting your foot down and forcing a change can seem daunting. But what if we were to tell you that you could double your energy in seven days? That’s what Yuri Elkaim, a holistic nutritionist and fitness expert, promises in his new book, The All-Day Energy Diet.
With a newfound spring in your step, you’ll also be able to get into even better shape than before, improve your digestive health and reduce stress, too. So, how has Yuri helped more than 500,000 people across the world to feel like this? It’s all through an understanding of – and holistic approach to – food and health, and he tells all in his new book. Intrigued? We were!
One of the most common health complaints these days is tiredness. We’re constantly feeling exhausted, run down and, quite frankly, frazzled. But why is it that a lack of energy has fast become our biggest downfall? It’s largely to do with the turn our lifestyles have taken and, unfortunately, it’s been a turn for the worse. Since mass food processing began in the 1950s, we’ve traded our health for convenience by relying on fast food and packaged, processed foods devoid of nutritional value,’ Yuri explains. ‘They may taste great, but they’re no good for the human body.’ Since food is what fuels us throughout the day – allowing us to exercise, work and even think – it’s no wonder we’re feeling the strain when the quality of the fuel we’re consuming isn’t good enough to run our complex engines. The result is not only a serious problem with fatigue, but also weight gain and frequent sickness.
Being mindful of what you put into your body is key if you’re looking to get your energy levels back on track. Yuri touts wheat, sugar and caffeine as being the biggest culprits when it comes to energy sapping foods. However, it is these three ‘sneaky’ foods, as Yuri calls them, which make a regular appearance in most modern-day diets. ‘We’re getting ill because of the crap we eat,’ Yuri says. ‘It leads to numerous micronutrient deficiencies, which can cause myriad health problems, from lowered immunity to poor gut health and beyond.’ Ditching these foods will work wonders for your energy levels, according to Yuri. And with the array of alternative foods available in regular supermarkets these days, it really couldn’t be easier. ‘Once you start reducing how much wheat, sugar and caffeine you consume, you won’t be able to argue with how great you begin to feel,’ he adds.
The stress factor
However, poor diet isn’t the only thing we need to fix. So many of us are constantly stressed and anxious too, which only saps energy further. And high-stress situations affect your brain and body in more long-term ways than you might think. Our bodies deal with stress according to the fight or flight response, says Yuri. ‘Your brain perceives a threat. Within milliseconds nerve impulses are fired and your sympathetic nervous system is activated,’ he explains. ‘This results in dilated pupils, increased heart rate and other reactions that prepare your body to fight or flee. Seconds after this initial neural response, hormonal and nerve impulses are sent from your brain to your adrenal glands, signalling for adrenal hormones to be secreted.’ This is all normal in moderation, and actually helps us cope with stress. But an excessive amount of stress is a one-way path to burnout.
A new lease of life
Now for the good news: there is something you can do about it! And, as you may have worked out by now, the main fix is to address both your diet and stress levels.
You may not even realise that your diet needs fixing, though. After all, many of us try to stay up to date with the latest health foods, ensuring we incorporate them in and around meals. But the problem is, if your diet as a whole isn’t up to scratch, then simply scattering superfoods throughout the rest of what you’re eating just isn’t going to cut it. ‘Your body must be in an alkaline state to produce the energy you need,’ Yuri explains. Some foods are alkaline, and some are acidic. To get the right balance, you need to make sure you eat enough alkalising foods like spinach, bananas and sweet potato – generally, it’s vegetables (especially greens!) and the less-sweet fruit options.
But that’s not all. How much of your food is actually considered raw when you eat it? Yuri reckons we should aim for 75 per cent. The reason being that raw – or uncooked – food has a higher nutrient value, plus it contains more water and digestion-boosting enzymes. ‘Grilling, baking and even steaming destroys many of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are found in your food,’ he says. ‘While in some cases it may be more practical to lightly steam your food, the easiest ways I know of to add more raw foods into your diet are juicing, making smoothies and preparing more salads.’
So that’s the food side of things sorted, but what about those soaring stress levels? How do we manage those? Just a few of the stress management techniques Yuri recommends in his book are yoga, aerobic exercise and sleep – and we’re fans of all of them. Not only can yoga help you focus at work and in life, but it’s long been known for its ability to calm the mind and reduce tension, too. ‘I suggest doing it two to three times per week, but if you want to do it daily, that’s even better – especially if you’re suffering from adrenal problems,’ Yuri says. And what about aerobic exercise? How does that help relieve stress? ‘It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress,’ he explains.
Finally, making time to get not only a decent amount of sleep but more high-quality sleep will undoubtedly pay off. There are obvious ways we can achieve this: allowing our brains to unwind before hitting the hay will allow cortisol levels to fall before sleeping giving us more energy the next day, for example. But another tip from Yuri is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. ‘This will help reset your body’s internal clock,’ he says. This might take a while for you to get used to (especially on weekends!), but the routine will do your body good in the long run. On top of this, try taking an Epsom salt bath or drinking magnesium tea before bed. ‘These methods will relax your body and calm your mind,’ Yuri adds.
Overhauling your diet and changing your habits may seem overwhelming and like a lot of effort at first, but once you get into the swing of things and start feeling the benefits, you won’t look back – you’ll be on your way to a happier, more energetic you!