Eating for energy
Everyone feels exhausted and overwhelmed at times. However, when you are starting to feel run-down all the time and it is starting to interfere with your daily activities, you should stop and re-evaluate your lifestyle. Are you eating healthily? Are you getting enough sleep and exercise? Or could it be something more serious?
Chronic fatigue is an underlying symptom for a number of medical conditions such as anaemia (iron-deficiency), food allergies, diabetes, depression, thyroid and heart problems. If you've been feeling fatigued for more than a month, it is recommended that you visit your doctor for a thorough medical examination.
For many people, though, an unhealthy diet is one of the main reasons for their constant tiredness. We so easily forget that what we put (or don't put!) into our bodies can affect our energy levels immensely.
It is important to eat a balanced diet that consists of three daily meals and a healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon. You can also opt to divide your daily food into five mini-meals instead. Eating regularly helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable, which in turn helps to keep your energy and concentration levels stable.
Fruit and vegetables
Energise your body with an abundance of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables and opt for wholegrains (such as brown bread, brown rice, oats, quinoa and rye), low-fat or fat-free dairy and lean proteins (such as lean beef, fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, lentils and tofu). Minimise your intake of fat, sugar and salt.
Say no to refined starches
Avoid refined starches such as white bread, cakes, pastries, pies, doughnuts, fast foods and deep-fried foods as these foods are low in nutrients and high in kilojoules. These foods may give you a quick surge of energy as they are metabolised immediately, but soon after your blood sugar levels will crash, making you feel even more run-down. If you are feeling peckish, rather snack on fruit, veggie sticks, seeds, nuts and unsalted popcorn.
Deficiencies in key nutrients can lead to lethargy & inhibit energy production. The following supplements can help increase energy production and reduce fatigue:
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
- B Vitamins
- Amino Acids
Don’t starve yourself
If you are on a very strict diet to lose weight and starving yourself in the process, you are not only sapping your energy levels but also slowing down your metabolism. If your body is not getting enough food, it starts preparing itself for a famine by slowing down your metabolism and holding onto all the fat you have. So, rather opt for a more balanced diet with moderate portions of healthy food and combine it with regular exercise; and you will slowly see the kilos melt away.
Avoid reaching for caffeine, alcohol and nicotine in times of stress. Though they may give you a temporary boost, they make you feel even more tired in the end as they can dehydrate the body, interfere with sleep, overstimulate the nervous system and play havoc with your blood sugar levels.
Are you drinking enough water? A dehydrated body is a fatigued body. Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking six to eight glasses of fluid a day, preferably water. Your body needs sufficient water to function well - among others, it promotes good blood circulation and energises the brain. If you have a headache and are feeling tired, reach for a glass of water first, you may be dehydrated.
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