The moment we feel low on energy or tired, we turn to caffeinated drinks or energy bars to perk up ourselves. A cup of coffee, a can of energy drink, a granola bar or some sugary snack looks so appealing when we are tired. But do these choices help? Doctors and nutritionists believe that they may provide initial energy high but soon the levels plummet, and we end up feeling more tired than before.
Before we check out foods to fight fatigue, let’s understand some of the most common causes of this condition:
Most Common Causes of Fatigue
Everyone is different and each person’s body may react differently to different factors. But over the years scientists have analysed the data to find out some of the most common reasons why we feel fatigued. If you don’t spot anything on this list that matches your life, don’t worry. There may be an easily explainable cause for your fatigue that we have not covered here:
- Allergies, particularly allergic rhinitis may lead to a host of physiological issues like a watery nose coupled with regular sneezing, as well as watery eyes. This condition as well as other allergies may lead to your body expending large amounts of energy during the allergic reaction which can cause chronic fatigue.
- Anaemia is a condition in which your body does not produce enough red blood cells, which can lead to several medical issues including dizziness and fatigue. It can be caused by a variety of reasons from medications, bleeding, as commonly due to dietary deficiencies. Diets low in iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid can lead to anaemia.
- Mental health issues like depression, stress and anxiety may also contribute to feelings of fatigue. These conditions also make it harder to stay motivated and physically active.
- Infections from bacteria and viruses can also lead to fatigue, either during the infection stage when the body is fighting off the invader or during the recovery phase when your body is trying to get back to normal. These processes take up a lot of resources which may lead to chronic fatigue despite getting enough sleep.
- An underactive thyroid results in fewer amounts of T3 and T4 hormones being produced. These hormones are intricately connected with many bodily functions like heart rate, body weight, core body temperature, muscle control and even breathing. Low levels of thyroid hormones can result in a cascading effect on your body’s metabolism which can lead to fatigue, among other symptoms.
- Other conditions like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep disorders and cancer or cancer treatments are also associated with fatigue and general tiredness. In most of these cases, there are ways to treat or manage fatigue, but you will need to follow your doctor’s instructions for the best results.
Now let’s check out a list of 12 foods to fight fatigue that may help our bodies get back to feeling energised again:
Foods to Fight Fatigue
1. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Don’t underestimate the power of a bowl of salad or a serving of fruits. Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of vital nutrients that help to keep the metabolism going and improve energy levels. The fresher the fruit or vegetable, the better it is for your health. Also, the energy provided is at a more consistent rate, and this helps the body to cope better with demanding mental and physical work. They are ideal foods that prevent fatigue and depression.
2. Unprocessed Food
Burgers, pasta, French fries, boxed meals, ready-to-eat snacks, and other such items may seem like enticing options when low on energy, but they are bad for health and provide no nutrition to the body. Instead, they cause sharp spikes and dips in sugar levels leading you to feel a burst of energy and then feeling thoroughly washed out. Choose unprocessed food options like whole grains, brown bread sandwiches or a glass of milk, which are better food options that prevent fatigue.
3. Hydrate with Non-Caffeinated Drinks
A cup or two of coffee daily is alright, but when coffee becomes the go-to drink to get by every hour, then it is harmful to health. You could instead choose fresh fruit juices, milkshakes, green tea or smoothies to help tide over low energy levels. They make nutritious options for foods that prevent fatigue.
4. Whole Grains and Complex Carbohydrates
Most of us skip breakfast for a little bit of extra sleep or choose unhealthy options like bagels, doughnuts, or high-calorie snacks for sustenance. To have stable energy levels throughout the day, decide to eat an oatmeal breakfast or have whole grain options like whole-wheat pancakes, multigrain sandwiches or quinoa. These have a high amount of good quality carbohydrates that provide fuel to our brains and muscles, so they work efficiently and make great foods to fight fatigue.
If you are feeling tired between meals, the best snacking options are nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, Chia seeds, flax seeds, and pistachios. You could also go for sunflower seeds, Brazilian nuts, hazelnuts, pecans or pumpkin seeds as well. All of these make for healthy foods that fight fatigue. They provide essential nutrients, fibre and a boost of energy to the tired body. Chia seeds have earned the reputation of being a ‘runner’s food’ as they help in improving endurance and enhance physical performance. Most nuts are rich in magnesium, potassium and other vital nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that are potent antioxidants. These are the perfect fatigue-fighting foods.
Nothing fights fatigue like proteins. Beans, tofu, cottage cheese, and sprouts are foods that fight fatigue. Most of these are rich in magnesium that helps to restore energy levels.
Mushrooms are an unassuming source of energy. They are rich in proteins and fibre and replenish essential nutrients like folate and B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, etc. They prevent damage to mitochondria which are the powerhouses of the cells. They also combat fatigue by providing support to the adrenal glands. They can be eaten as part of salads, in sandwiches or as a snack in themselves.
Whenever we are tired, we almost always forget to account for dehydration. Water helps the body to work optimally without adding any calories. It makes for a perfect drink whenever you are feeling down and out. Guzzle down two litres of water a day to keep your energy levels up.
Bananas are one of the best foods to fight fatigue. Rich in potassium, vitamins, and minerals, bananas are one of the cheapest and most readily available energy sources around the world. Have in a smoothie, as is or incorporate in a milkshake to get benefitted twice over.
Packed with fibre, carbohydrates, and protein (a good trio), beans are right on top of foods that fight fatigue. They are rich in fibre that helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent sudden spikes or dips in sugar levels. There is a range of options available like kidney beans, cluster beans, regular French beans, and garbanzo beans. Eat them as a snack or as part of a curry.
11. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a healthier option to potatoes when looking for good carbohydrates to sustain bodily functions. They are high in fibre and rich in potassium. Potassium keeps the electrolyte balance maintained and helps the body by lowering blood pressure. When the body is relaxed, it responds better to stress and fatigue. Also, know about the stress foods to avoid.
12. Green or Black Tea
Tea has much less caffeine than coffee. Also, it has an amino acid- theanine which helps to enhance concentration and makes one alert. Be warned, though. If you have some tea close to your bedtime, it might hamper your ability to hit the sack on time.
A good night’s sleep, eating meals on time and making healthy choices when it comes to foods that do not cause fatigue will go a long way in keeping you feeling energetic and active. Nothing can replace a good lifestyle to fight off exhaustion in this fast-paced world. Replace junk and processed food with nuts and whole grains with the right foods to fight fatigue. If you still feel tired or experience low levels of energy, talk to your doctor.You are what you eat