About RTÉ Television
The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Energy Boosting Foods With Aveen Bannon

Monday, 20 October 2008

As the mornings are getting darker and the evenings close in many of our viewers need a bit of a healthy energy boost. Today with nutritionist Aveen Bannon we're looking at energy boosting foods that can easily be incorporated into everyday meals.

Energy Boosting Foods
Do you feel like you are constantly trying to juggle all of life's challenges? Have you always wondered how some people manage to have bundles of energy but you often feel lethargic and find that at the end of the day you are exhausted and just ready to collapse in front of the TV? Eating or drinking certain things puts your body under chemical stress and robs you of valuable energy. Some of the worst offenders we consume on a daily basis e.g. caffeine, sugar, alcohol and nicotine. If you wish to boost your energy stores you need to incorporate regular activity in your routine and rewrite your shopping list!

Now , we all now how hard it is to break old habits so instead on focusing what you need to take to take out of your routine start focusing on making some new habits. With winter just around the corner we will focus on vital energy-boosting foods to aid your immune system over the winter months and avoid becoming run-down with colds and flu. We can start today with aiming to incorporate 5 energy boosting foods into your weekly diet.

The Foods

1. Iron deficiency anaemia and poor B vitamin status are two common nutritional deficiencies in the Irish diet which can lead to tiredness and lethargy. Irons job is to transport oxygen around the body and release energy from cells, so any deficiency will result in less oxygen being carried around and you feeling tired.. Great sources of iron are green leafy vegetables including broccoli, cabbage, green beans, kale, spinach and brussel sprouts. Spinach is considered one of the best and is also packed with immune boosting vitamins A and C. Frozen or fresh this is a very versatile vegetable that can be a tasty addition to any meal and easily hidden in meals for those who are not so keen on its taste;

. Added to a Smoothie (strawberry, banana and spinach)
. Spinach Frittata
. Pasta Alfredo (Spinach and feta cheese)
. Vegetable soups
. Added raw to a salad
. Another great idea is to layer it under pasta in lasagne or under the potato in cottage pie. After being cooked in the oven the spinach reduces in size
. and is barely noticeable in the dish but still provides that all important iron.

(One very important point to remember is to avoid drinking tea at mealtimes as the tannins in tea can inhibit the absorption of these essential nutrients.)

2. B vitamins are required for the processing of dietary fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to convert these nutrients to energy. Basically we need B vitamins to convert food into energy. B vitamins are described as water soluble vitamins and are very sensitive. They are easily destroyed by cooking, processing, sugar and alcohol and as the body cannot make them they are considered essential vitamins which means we need a regular daily supply. Good sources include meat, dairy products, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, grains and legumes. One particularly great source is wheatgrass. Wheatgrass can be taken in juice, powder or tablet form and is packed full of nutrition;

. Add to juices or smoothies - One 30mm shot of wheatgrass is generally considered enough
. In powder form you can add to soups, cereals, casseroles or yogurt
. Or you can just add to water and drink it.

3. Sugary foods can rob us of valuable energy but despite what many people may think this doesn't have to be just sugar, it can mean white bread, refined breakfast cereals and white crackers. Oats however are high in soluble fibre, low in calories, fat, salt and sugar and have a low glycaemic index which means they provide a slow steady release of energy which will keep you feeling full for longer and supply you with enough energy to keep you going until your next mealtime. Porridge is the most obvious way to eat oats but not all people like it so here are some other ways to ensure you can have a daily supply of oats;

. Muesli with added oats
. Oatcakes - great for a snack or as a bread alternative
. Oats make great a topping for a crumble
. You can add a spoonful to a yogurt
. Add oats to buns or homemade bread
. Strawberry oat smoothie (strawberries, banana, oats and milk)

4. A great source of vitamin B6 and potassium bananas also supply magnesium which is thought to help regulate our mood. Vitamin B6 is needed in the manufacture of serotonin the feel good hormone. Producing this hormone will make you feel perkier and more able to tackle your day's chores. Incorporating a low GI snack food with vitamin B6 is a great way to keep your energy levels up. Bananas are frequently avoided by people because of misconception that they are a high calorie food. This is not the case at all. Because of their high fibre they have a slow release of energy and their natural supply of vitamin B6 will help boost your mood and energy levels. They can be
. Eaten on their own
. Are delicious sliced in a bowl and then pour your porridge on top
. Added to muesli or any other high fibre breakfast cereal
. Eaten on toast
. Added to a smoothie
. Baked in the oven and served with a little kaluha and ice cream for a tasty treat.
. Banana bread or muffins

5. Nuts and seeds provide essential vitamins, minerals and the all important Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential components of brain cell membranes, and their role in cell structure is thought to improve the powers of and enhance our mood. Nuts are also considered a low GI snack so will provide you with a slow steady supply of energy. Nuts are often avoided because of the misconception that they are 'fattening' and also surprisingly many people say they dislike them but have yet to try them! Great ways to incorporate them into your diet include;
. Added to muesli or a high fibre cereal
. Seeds or nuts are lovely added to a yogurt
. Added to salads
. Grind them with a coffee grinder and add to a smoothie or juice
. Peanut butter, nut butters and tahini (sesame seed paste); all of these can be tasty added to oatcakes, rice cakes or rye crackers
. Pinenuts added to pasta dishes
. Nuts and seeds can be added to a pesto sauce
. Many Indian dishes incorporate nuts into their dishes so why not try experimenting at home.

6. Don't forget adequate hydration is imperative for adequate energy. The first symptom of dehydration is tiredness not thirst! Make sure you drink plenty of water. The general guidelines are to include 1.5 to 2 Litres a day and it is best to hydrate yourself between mealtimes. Poor hydration can lead to poor concentration, tiredness and headaches. If you find water hard to drink don't despair most fluids are hydrating so here are some ideas;

. Herbal teas
. Normal tea/ coffee (2-3 cups per day and not with meals)
. Juices (about 1 glass per day)
. Water with lemon or lime to add flavour
. Dilute some juice in water to give it a hint of flavour
. Water with a mint leave added

Energy Robbers
. Caffeine; too much caffeine can result in an energy lift followed by an energy lull. Restricting your caffeine intake can benefit your overall energy
. Sweets- they give you an immediate sugar rush that actually leaves you feeling drained of energy later.
. Refined carbohydrates; filling up on white breads and cereals can result in an energy slump a few hours later.
. Sedentary lifestyles. Inactivity drains us, keeping active and getting air is important for keeping up energy levels
. Not enough sleep; may sound obvious but generally when we don't get enough sleep we eat sugary foods to give us a lift or caffeine which will ultimately result in an energy lull.
. Stress; try to minimise stress in our daily routine or work out ways of coping with it that don't result in you becoming tired or comfort eating
. Skipping meals