Making the decision to put your health first isn’t always easy. While you know it’s for the best, you can’t help but feel the weight of your compromise – you just know you’re giving up certain pleasures, right?
And, if you’re really going to make a concerted effort, you’ve got to give up certain types of food and drink that you love too. Making your health a priority usually means saying no to late nights, to ensure you’re getting consistent sleep. It can also mean you have to get out and exercise when you’d rather be watching TV, playing on the computer, or just plain vegging out.
But, let’s say you’ve done all that – you’re eating whole foods, you’re sleeping well, you’re walking everyday, and you’re still feeling fatigued – or worse – putting on weight.
“How can this be?”
Well, it might not actually be your fault. What’s getting in your way might just be a problem with your AMPK.
So, what the heck is AMPK?
For starters, AMPK stands for adenosine monophosphate-activated kinase. If that makes absolutely no sense to you, then just know this …
AMPK is a very important enzyme responsible for regulating how every cell in your body processes energy.1
In other words, AMPK is an energy sensor, and when it’s activated in the proper tissues, it can mean a lot of great things for our health, metabolism, and wellness. AMPK can help:
- Promote weight loss
- Reduce inflammation
- Support muscle performance2
- Balance insulin sensitivity3
- Maintain health as you age
But, what’s so special about this enzyme? Well, AMPK is found in every cell you’ve got. Actually, AMPK is found in every living cell on the planet.
But, more importantly, it’s a major player when it comes to determining the body’s fat composition. And, the older we get, the less of it we produce – that’s one of the main reasons we pack on weight and lose muscle mass as we age.
In addition, AMPK has been at the center of some buzzworthy attention in the health and wellness industries and, therefore, has earned itself a few nicknames.
The Master Switch
Turns out, researchers often call AMPK the “master switch” of the body because it has a hand in monitoring almost everything that happens in your body. Of course, healthy AMPK keeps energy production and use in check, but it also helps block against a good selection of health issues – not the least of which are obesity and certain heart issues.4 So, you can imagine when AMPK levels are off, health conditions can become chronic and tough to manage.
The Exercise Switch
Now, activated AMPK does a lot of good for muscle. You see, it helps your body react to the physiological changes we create for ourselves when we exercise. For instance, activated AMPK helps offset the stress on our cells when we overuse them, or worse, injure them.5
But, when our bodies undergo certain stresses or complications, AMPK production and regulation can become compromised. And when our bodies don’t have enough AMPK, it can cause some serious issues.
But, what makes our bodies produce less AMPK?
Turns out, there are several factors that can limit the production and regulation of AMPK in our bodies:
- Lack of iron
- Insufficient red blood cells
- Inactive lifestyle
- Diets high in sugar
- High protein diets
And those are just a few reasons AMPK production can slow. The results of insufficient AMPK? Well, here are just a few examples of ways in which unbalanced AMPK output can affect your body:
- Fat buildup in liver
- Increased fat in belly
- Weight gain
- Cardiovascular issues
- Insulin resistance
When those situations occur, it could be time for an AMPK activator.
What is an AMPK activator?
An AMPK activator is anything that helps turn the AMPK ‘switch’ back on.
Turns out, when AMPK is activated, the production and use of energy throughout your body is healthier, you metabolize more quickly, and your cells can detoxify more easily.
Activators can include natural products derived from medicinal herbs that help kick your body’s natural AMPK back into gear. Interval training and exercise can activate AMPK. A dietary plan that focuses on mostly plant-based foods, low-fat foods, and only a conservative intake of protein can also help AMPK levels. Even acupuncture has been said to activate AMPK.
Foods that activate AMPK – polyphenols
Polyphenols are the building blocks of natural phytochemicals (compounds found in plants), and they have incredible properties. Have you ever wondered how fruits, berries, and vegetables get their vibrant colors? Do you know what determines their taste and aroma?
The answer is polyphenols.
And, in fact, polyphenols are capable of activating AMPK.6 Below, you’ll find a list of foods that contain the polyphenols said to help boost AMPK.
- EGCG – green tea
- Curcumin – turmeric
- Resveratrol – red grapes
- Quercetin – apples, red wine, blueberries, and cabbage
- Anthocyanins – raspberries, cherries, and blackberries
If you find you’re doing everything to energize your days and make health a priority, but you just aren’t feeling or seeing the benefits of all the changes you’re making … it might be time to research and consider an AMPK activator.
You might just need to flip your body’s master switch to health on.