How To Fight Fatigue?
What Is Fatigue?
Fatigue is a general feeling of tiredness or loss of efficiency. It's a normal reaction to lack of sleep, emotional strain, or poor dietary habits. Constant fatigue can also be a sign of an underlying illness requiring medical attention, such as depression, anemia, or diabetes.
If you're having a personal energy crisis, you have plenty of company: About a quarter of us will suffer occasional to chronic tiredness at one point in life or another. Fatigue is often due to simple lack of sleep, but stress, overwork, medications, lack of exercise, and a variety of medical conditions can all cause fatigue as well. If fatigue lasts for weeks and prevents you from functioning normally, you may have a more serious problem; you should see your doctor. In the meantime, use the power of food to kick-start your energy levels.
Carbohydrates To The Rescue
For optional vitality all day long, it's best to eat a balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates. Eating carbohydrates-rich foods, such as whole-grain breads, pasta, and fruits and vegetables like broccoli, provides the body with instantaneous energy. That's because carbs are chemically more similar to glucose, the body's main fuel, and therefore break down more quickly than proteins or fats.
In addition to carbohydrates, iron plays a vital role in energy levels. This important mineral is also involved in aiding enzymes that release energy in the body and in healthy immune function; if either of these processes is compromised, you're bound to feel the effects in the form of fatigue. Iron is also a critical element in the red blood cells' ability to carry oxygen through the body. The best sources of iron in food are meats-especially organ meats like liver-poultry, and seafood, so include moderate amounts of them in your diet. If you prefer, you can get iron from foods such as beans, spinach, and soy products. The iron in these foods, except for soybean hulls, is not as easy for the body to absorb, however, so you may want to eat vitamin C-rich foods at the same time to boost your iron intake. Cooking in iron pots also adds iron, especially when you cook acidic foods in them.
- Black beans
- Fruits: oranges, bananas, and strawberries
- Lean meats and poultry
- Vegetables: broccoli, spinach, and potatoes
- Whole grains
Many other nutrients are also important to energy levels. Vitamins B6, and B12, found in whole grains, bananas, avocados, chicken, soy products, and seafood, help regulate energy. Antioxidant vitamins C and E can help ward off fatiguing illness. Look for C in citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwi, and peppers; vitamin E is found in nuts and vegetable oils, sunflower seeds, whole grains, and spinach. Spinach, potatoes, and bananas are all rich in energy-boosting magnesium and potassium. Other energizers are:
Liquid Pick-Me-Ups Fatigue is often a sign of dehydration because the body depends on water to distribute and make use of iron and other fatigue-fighting nutrients throughout the body. Even if you're down as little as 1/2 cup, you could be suffering from water-related lack of energy. To keep your tank brimming, drink at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day and eat foods with significant water content, such as oranges, tomatoes, and watermelon, which are also good sources of energizing nutrients, such as vitamin C.
Herbal Energy Enhancers You can help meet your 64-0z. fluid goal with rejuvenating, caffeine-free herbal teas containing gingerroot or ginseng. (Don't count coffee as a hydrating drink, however; caffeine is a diuretic that removes water from the body.) Or, an inhalation of peppermint or basil essential oil will also help fight fatigue; you can put them in diffusers or misters, which you may be able to find in herbal supply shops and some health food stores.
Day-Starters One of the more important sources of iron and other fatigue-fighting vitamins and minerals is fortified breakfasts cereal, yet a quarter of us don't eat it or anything at all in the morning. Breakfast infuses the body with important nutrients to last the entire morning. Without it, the body's blood sugar levels drop and metabolism slows, both of which will make you tired. The vitamin C in a glass of orange juice or 1 cup of strawberries helps boost absorption of iron in cereal. Other beneficial combinations of energizing nutrients include a banana and a glass of orange juice, cereal topped with fruit, and fresh strawberries mixed in yogurt.
Foods To Avoid
Legions of fatigued people reach for a cup of coffee or a sugary snack, but the initial energy jolt of caffeine or sugar wears off and can leave you feeling more tired than ever. Fatty foods worsen fatigue because they take longer to digest. This extra time diverts nutrient-rich blood toward your stomach and away from other energy-hungry parts of your body, like your brain.