Fighting Tiredness through a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Fatigue can have many causes but for a number of people simply changing their diet and eating healthier may be all they need to conquer fatigue.
Over 2.2 million people in the U.S. complain of feeling tired or fatigued and according to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, women are four times more likely to feel overly tired than men. Although fatigue can be an underlying symptom of many diseases and conditions, it can also be the result of a poor diet lacking in nutrition. By making a few diet changes, a person suffering from fatigue can begin to feel more energetic and conquer that run down feeling.
Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Poor diet is the main reason that many people suffer from fatigue. Eating too much sugar can cause blood glucose levels to become unstable and limiting certain foods such as carbohydrates and fats can also make the body feel fatigued. Going back to basics and eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to bolster the body and feel energized again.
Eating a healthy breakfast is very important in order to keep energy up during the day. British researchers at Cardiff University in Wales found that eating a high-fiber breakfast, such as oatmeal or bran cereal, can reduce fatigue by 10% as well as build better cognitive skills and lower the risk of depression. Because fiber slows down the digestion of food, the body is able to maintain energy for a longer period of time. Adding fruit and a low-fat dairy product to the breakfast will also help to maintain energy throughout the morning.
A weakened immune system can be a factor in ongoing fatigue. If the body is working harder than it has to in order to fight off colds and infections, this can wear down the body and make it tired. Try revitalizing the immune system by eating foods rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants stop free radicals in the body from damaging cells and causing such diseases as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and even some cancers. Try adding blueberries, strawberries, apples, walnuts, potatoes, artichokes, pinto beans, and green tea to the diet to build up the immune system and have more energy.
Complex and simple carbohydrates are necessary for keeping the body’s energy levels up and the blood sugar levels evenly maintained. Complex carbohydrates that also contain fiber digest slowly in the body and help blood sugar levels stay more constant so the body doesn’t experience those highs and lows as it does with sugar. Simple carbohydrates will give the body that energy surge without the big letdown. Good complex carbohydrates to eat are oatmeal, bran, brown rice, yams, beans, carrots, squash, and wheat pasta. Skip the white bread, white rice, and pasta that contain no fiber and empty calories. Simple carbohydrates include apples, cranberries, kiwi, pears, and blackberries.
Fat has had a bad reputation for years but the truth is the body needs some good fats to keep energy levels up. Good fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids from foods like salmon, tuna, olive oil, walnuts, almonds, and peanut butter actually encourage the body to store carbohydrates as glycogen instead of as fat. Glycogen is the term for stored glucose, (blood sugar), which is the body’s main form of energy.
Protein is important for keeping the immune system strong, building cells, transporting hormones and vitamins throughout the body and basically keeping the body strong. Without enough protein in the diet, the body will not be able to distribute the nutrients the body needs to feel strong and alert. Make sure to eat some lean beef, fish, eggs, nuts, beans or low-fat dairy products every day. Soy products are also an excellent source of protein.
Vitamins and Minerals for Fatigue
Fatigue can be the result of not enough iron in the diet. Iron is responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood among other functions. If enough oxygen is not in the bloodstream the result can be fatigue. Eat foods that are iron-rich such as lean beef, sardines, bran flakes, almonds, raisins, lentils, kidney beans, and soybeans. Iron supplements should be avoided unless a doctor has prescribed them because too much iron can become toxic in the system.
Stress causes fatigue because it burns up essential vitamins and minerals in the body as well as wears down the immune system. All the B vitamins, as well as vitamin C, calcium and magnesium, are depleted when the body is stressed. Try getting these nutrients from food whenever possible or take a daily multivitamin to replenish these important nutrients.
A healthy, balanced diet is all that may be needed to combat fatigue and feel energetic again. However, if other symptoms accompany the fatigue or it is getting in the way of participating in activities or going to work then it is important to visit the doctor for a proper diagnosis.