Fight fatigue with food

Are you regularly exhausted? Do you feel gloomy and listless? You may be suffering from fatigue. It’s well known that a good night’s sleep can do wonders, but a healthy diet is just as vital, especially if the problem has been going on for a number of days.

Stress and sleep | Healthy Eating

Sonia Chartier

23 April 2018

What you eat has a major impact on your body and health. Did you know that a lack of vitamins, minerals and essential fibre can affect your sleep? It’s true, so here are some tips to help you beat fatigue by eating the right foods.

Wakey, wakey, eggs and...

Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s typically the meal we put the least time and effort into. Of course, this is because we wake up at sunrise (or in the dark during winter) to accomplish the daunting task of getting dressed for work, making the kids’ lunches and getting a family of zombies ready for school and work.

But if you just took the time to have a good breakfast, you (and your zombies) would end up feeling better both physically and mentally. This meal gives you the energy you need to get your day off to a strong start! Even if you aren’t very hungry in the morning, you really should eat something. If you rarely or never eat breakfast, it’s time to make a change: breakfast takes only five minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to eat!

Unfortunately, typical “breakfast foods” like hyper-processed cereals don’t fall into the “energy-boosting breakfast” category.

It’s best to focus on simple ingredients like whole grains, fruits and protein:

  • Plain yogurt (or cottage cheese) sprinkled with oats, seeds, nuts and dried fruits
  • Plain oatmeal topped with berries and almonds
  • A fruit and yogurt smoothie
  • An egg white omelet, blueberries and whole-wheat toast with natural peanut butter (made with nothing but peanuts, with no added salt, oil or sugar)
  • An English muffin, cheese, fruit and a glass of milk

If you can, use the weekend to plan ready-to-go breakfasts for the coming the week:

Drink enough!

The human body is made up mostly of water. It’s important to keep your body properly hydrated, because dehydration can lead to fatigue. Make sure to get at least a litre and a half (six to eight glasses) of water a day. You’ll feel great in no time!

Why is water so important? At the slightest sign of dehydration, your blood thickens, which makes your heart work harder to keep your blood flowing. This in turn will drain your energy reserves faster, causing fatigue.

Eat less, eat more often

By having small meals every three hours, you’ll keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable. Conversely, sudden blood sugar fluctuations practically guarantee mood swings, from excitement to irritability to fatigue. Why isn’t it healthy to eat copious meals? Because they take a lot of energy to digest, leading to lethargy and a feeling of fatigue.

Fabulous fibre

Fibre provides you with long-lasting energy. Insoluble fibre keeps you regular, while soluble fibre makes sure that sugars are released into the blood gradually, thereby helping prevent blood sugar spikes and dips. The current recommendation is to eat 25 to 30 grams of fibre a day. Here are a few foods rich in soluble fibre:

  • Oats, barley and psyllium
  • Kidney beans and lentils
  • Oranges, mangoes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts and carrots

Fatigue-fighting foods

In addition to dietary fibre, a few other foods are crucial for a healthy, energy-packed lifestyle.

  • Omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acids help the brain function properly. They also help you stay alert and avoid listlessness and fatigue. Fatty fishes, flax seeds and walnuts are especially good sources of omega-3.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium relaxes muscles and promotes sleep, while giving your body energy. Here are a few good dietary sources of magnesium: soy, brewer’s yeast, black and white beans, dark green leafy vegetables, almonds and chocolate.
  • Iron: Since your body can’t produce its own iron, you need to get it from your food. Iron plays an important role in red blood cell production and is absolutely necessary for energy production. Women have a greater iron requirement than men—18 mg per day vs 8 mg for men.
    Make sure to get enough! You can find good doses of it in cocoa, dates, oysters, shrimp, beef, liver, blood pudding and spinach. Iron sourced from meat and fish is easier for the body to absorb than plant-source iron, but vegetables and vitamin C in particular help your body absorb it, regardless of the source.
  • Vitamins: The body’s metabolic processes rely on vitamins. To guarantee a sufficient supply, you should ideally have six to eight portions of fruits and vegetables every day. A basic yeast supplement is a good choice to prevent fatigue, as it is rich in B-complex vitamins and nutrients that foster the absorption of minerals, while providing you with energy.

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A sleep diary is a record of an individual's sleeping and waking times with related information, usually over a period of several weeks.
This data alone can help people pin point factors favouring good sleep.

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