As our lives only seem to get busier, it’s no surprise that many people use everything from sugar and caffeine to “natural herbal energy” drinks for maintaining or boosting energy levels throughout the day. But the truth is many of the energy drinks, herbal boosters, and even some supplements are often just a combination of sugars and basic electrolytes, with a few herbs thrown in to “green” the product.
When YogaEarth set out to create the first community-built nutritional system, we listened to the people in our community who always seem focused and energized – yoga teachers, athletes and nutrition specialists. One of their biggest criticisms of mainstream sports drinks, beyond the copious amounts of sugar they contain, was the rather ordinary, ineffectual vitamin formulas. The community was looking for many different things, but particularly something without sugar or caffeine that could still provide a powerful energy boost for the body while enhancing recovery after strenuous exercise or yoga practice.
With expert guidance from our Science Board, we formulated our pre and post-practice nutritional system – Balance & Vitality – with both traditional supplements (e.g. B12, Magnesium), a number of ‘superfood’ ingredients (e.g. Amalaki, Acai Berry), and some less well-known supplements (e.g. D-Ribose, L-Alanine), all of which act specifically on cells to enhance everything from muscle recovery and energy storage to rejuvenation and cleansing.
One of the less well-known ingredients we used in Vitality was backed by extensive research indicating it enhances the body’s energy systems on a cellular level. This natural ingredient is D-Ribose.
D-Ribose is a simple, five-carbon sugar found in our bodies. Ribose is not a regular sugar like table sugar (sucrose), corn sugar (glucose) or milk and honey sugars (lactose and fructose), which are used by the body as short-term fuel sources and can be harmful in excess, contributing to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.
The body recognizes Ribose as a special sugar, storing it specifically for the vital work of making ATP (adenosine triphosphate), otherwise known as the “energy currency” of the cell. Our cells need Ribose to make ATP, and its presence in the cell stimulates the metabolic pathways our bodies use to create more of this energy currency. With strong amounts of ATP in our cells, we feel less fatigued and our muscles recover faster.
While D-Ribose itself is not an essential nutrient – other substances in our bodies such as glucose can create it – it is absolutely essential for active lifestyles, since our hearts and muscles alone do not produce enough D-Ribose for strong recovery after exercise, or to maintain balance in the case of chronic stress or illness. So as with many key ingredients, it’s extremely vital to elevate our naturally-occurring levels through what we consume.
This critical link between Ribose, energy, and fatigue has also been repeatedly shown in clinical and scientific tests worldwide, many performed with professional athletes. Apart from higher energy levels and greater muscle recovery, regular doses of Ribose after high-intensity exercise allowed athletes to breathe better, with their bodies able to use oxygen more efficiently, meaning more oxygen was present in their blood and available for tissue repair and performance.
High energy levels and reduced muscle fatigue are the most noticeable effects of having plenty of Ribose in our bodies, but the significant secondary benefits are no less critical to a happy, healthy lifestyle. ‘Supraphysiological levels’ of Ribose (medical speak for ‘more than is naturally produced by the body’) have also been linked to benefits such as
- Reduced anxiety
- Control of stress related eating and drinking
- Non-sedating anti-depressant effects
- Cardio-protective effects, especially for those with ischemic heart disease.
So next time you want to get energized or stay in peak condition – even after a workout or intense yoga session – forget the caffeine and sugar and remember your RIBOSE…
…or just reach for a packette of Vitality!