There are many ways to fight fatigue with food and these don't involve reaching for the nearest candy bar or caffeine kick to give you the energy you need. Having gone through a period where I found myself feeling very run-down, some simple changes to my lifestyle meant that I am now more conscious of the potential contributing factors to fatigue.
There are many reasons you may be feeling run-down and it seems to be something of a 21st century phenomena, with our high consumption of refined foods which are virtually depleted of vital nutrients and loaded with sugars, colourings, preservatives and chemicals. Your diet therefore, may be a contributing factor and there are some essential things your body needs for it to function at its optimum level. There are many other things that could be causing your fatigue such as stress, illness, lack of sleep and more commonly anaemia. Anaemia can be caused by illness but it can also be as a result of your diet and a lack of essential minerals. So here are some ways to fight fatigue with food.
Iron deficiency is something which may be contributing to your fatigue. Blood loss, poor diet or illness can cause anaemia and therefore result in the body's iron levels being depleted. Ensure that your diet is filled with iron-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, sunflower seeds and lentils. This is one of the ways to fight fatigue.
Folate, also known as folic acid, is needed in the body for so many reasons. It can help prevent anaemia and supports cell production, especially in your skin. It can allow nerves to function properly, help prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures and can also help prevent dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. Folate can be found in liver, red meat, green vegetables and nuts.
Zinc is something we all need for energy metabolism and a lack of zinc is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies which affects the immune system. Adequate levels of zinc will help improve aerobic capacity and bone health. As well as feeling low on energy, some signs of zinc deficiency include decreased appetite, white spots and lines on the finger nails, rashes, acne, hair loss and poor eye sight. Obviously if you're concerned, seek advice from a medical practitioner who will be able to tell you for sure. But some good sources of zinc that you should try and incorporate into your diet to improve zinc levels, include pumpkin seeds, nuts, chicken, oatmeal, seafood and red meat.
4. Complex Carbs
If your diet is high in refined carbohydrates or low in calories, zinc and iron, you may also suffer from fatigue. This is something to bear in mind if you're embarking on an ill-advised crash diet. Starchy carbohydrates such as pasta, wholemeal bread, pulses and oat-based products, will help improve stamina and release energy slowly. Always opt for the wholemeal variety.
Vitamin B12 is vital for a healthy nervous system and the formation of red blood cells. Keep your Vitamin B12 stock high by filling up on fish, eggs, and low fat dairy foods. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you can take advantage of some fortified cereals to get part of your daily fix or take a supplement.
6. Silly Sugar
A little sugar in the diet is fine ladies. I would never condone deprivation and will treat myself to something sweet when the need takes hold. However, too much of the white (or brown) stuff can play havoc with your energy levels. Instead, opt for nuts and seeds, which are filled with the vitamins you need and will be able to keep your energy levels up.
7. Crazy Caffeine
As tempting as it may be to reach for that nice cup of coffee to perk you up, it's a slippery slope and excessive amounts can actually make you feel worse. Instead, try to limit your caffeine intake and opt for herbal teas. If you absolutely love the taste of coffee, go for the decaf variety.
Of course, if your symptoms are extreme and changes to your diet do not make any difference, then it is essential to seek medical advice to ensure there isn't a more serious underlying cause to your fatigue. Has anyone found that some simple changes in their diet have helped them overcome fatigue?