Feeling Tired? These Top 10 Foods Can Help Fight Fatigue
A few small, but significant lifestyle and dietary changes can make a huge difference.
Fatigue is a very common side effect that one faces during summers because of high heat and the resultant dehydration. These days, it is very common due to the omnipresent stress and anxiety that affects us as a result of the pandemic. Also, crushing fatigue is very common with those who are suffering from coronavirus or recovering from it. That is why paying attention to the food that can help combat it is important.
Yes, food can help us tide over and lessen the fatigue. A few small, but significant lifestyle and dietary changes can make a huge difference. Follow these simple pointers.
- Don’t scrimp on protein
- Ease up on sugar
- Focus on getting enough magnesium
- Cut back on caffeine
- Focus on B complex
- Keep the fat intake low
- Herbs and spices are good
- Include Vitamin C in your diet
- Focus on iron rich food
- Score enough Vitamin D
Protein in our diet reflects in the quality of protein in the body — our muscles, skin, joints, and brain. In fact, enough protein in our diet can be a game changer for busting fatigue. So, don’t scrimp on protein. Make sure you eat at least one good quality protein source food in all three main meals of the day. Add in one protein rich snack, mid meals too. For example: milk or eggs with breakfast, curd or sprouts in lunch, dal or fish with dinner, and kala channa chaat ( black chickpeas) or sattu in buttermilk mid-morning.
Ease up on sugar. Eating too much sugar weakens the immune system and may inhibit the ability of white blood cells to stay active. Plus, orexin — a brain chemical that keeps us feel awake is inhibited when we consume sugar. This chemical regulates arousal, wakefulness, and appetite, and there are only 10,000–20,000 orexin-producing neurons in the human brain. Lowered orexin levels create a tired feeling. Make a rule to eat sugar-laden desserts just once or twice a week, and ration the sugars in your daily cups of tea, coffee and other beverages.
Focus on getting enough magnesium. Magnesium deficiency affects the process of energy production in the cells — and this may lead to a feeling of constant fatigue. Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are good sources. My top picks are: almonds, pumpkin seeds, spinach, cashews and peanuts. Include at least two from these everyday in your diet.
Cut back on caffeine. Having too many cups of coffee, tea and other strongly caffeinated beverages (energy drinks etc) or even too much of dark chocolate to beat fatigue is a bad idea. They just provide a false sense of alertness that eventually dehydrate the body and actually add on to the fatigue.
Focus on B complex. B complex vitamins are essential for energy production in the body, deficiency of which leads to a feeling of low energy. They also help support the adrenal glands, which keep the stress in check. Chromic stress is a common fatigue causer. Meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, green leafy vegetables, and legumes are good sources.
Keep the fat intake low. Fat-rich foods (fried etc) is a bad idea as these tend to be difficult to digest and stress our system, which lead to a heavy, sluggish feeling. High fat foods for dinner are particularly a bad idea as they load the digestive system and can affect the quality of sleep, thus adding to exhaustion and fatigue
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices are good. Focus on those that support digestion - ginger, pepper, cinnamon, fennel, rosemary and garlic. That’s because when our digestion works smoothly, fatigue gets taken care of too.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that needs to be supplied daily as it is not stored in the body. It usually takes a dip because of our lifestyle and dietary choices (smoking, pollution, cooking and food storage methods) and a common symptom of its deficiency is fatigue. So include citrus fruits, guava, lemons, bell peppers, kiwi and amla in your diet daily.
Iron is necessary for normal blood cell formation and it’s functioning, so its deficiency results directly in anemia, fatigue, and disturbed immune function. Focus on iron rich foods like meats, organ meats, beans, such as red kidney beans, and chickpeas, nuts, seeds, whole grains and tofu.
Score enough vitamin D. This deficiency is an epidemic, and besides multiple other ill effects like weakened immunity, heart troubles etc., its lack often shows up as fatigue and excessive tiredness. As there aren’t too many food sources of vitamin D (except egg yolks, liver, and fortified foods), our best bet is to sit in the sun for at least 30 minutes everyday.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico), Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa) and Fix it with foods.)
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