May 20, 2010
In today's fast paced life fatigue is a common problem. A better diet can keep us energised throughout the day. Learn about the foods that help keep you feeling at your peak. Fatigue is simply mental or physical exhaustion. A process that slows the body down at the end of the day and prepares us for sleep, or protects overworked muscles from possible injury. Some simple dietary changes can help us keep fatigue from getting us down.
Mild dehydration is a common and often overlooked cause of fatigue. Dehydration can reduce blood flow to organs, slowing down your brain. Drink about eight glasses of water a day, and don't wait until youfeel thirsty.
The brain is fuel-hungry, using up to 30 per cent of calories. A good breakfast refills our energy stores, keeping lethargy at bay during the morning hours. This is especially true for children, who have a higher metabolism and smaller energy reserves. Include carbohydrates at breakfast, a whole grain muffin with peanut butter, a piece of fruit and a glass of skim milk.
Eat protein and carbs in combination especially at lunch. It's not your imagination: that drowsy, dopey feeling you get around 4 pm is part of your brain's natural daily rhythms. Protein contains the amino acid tryptophan, precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes a calm, relaxed feeling, which helps to fight emotional fatigue. Eaten with protein, carbohydrates may boost the brain's intake of tryptophan. Protein-rich foods also contain tyrosine, a precursor to neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, promoters of alertness, attention, and motivation.
Caffeinated beverages fight fatigue. Caffeine not only makes you feel more energised, it also increases alertness, reaction speed and ability to think clearly for up to three hours. But five or six cups of coffee a day can make you irritable and jittery, actually decreasing performance on some tasks; caffeine late in the day can cause insomnia. If caffeine's your thing, try one cup in the morning and a Diet Coke with lunch.
Get enough calories, but avoid big meals. While overeating is a serious problem for many folks (and can itself lead to fatigue), if you're an intensely active person or you're on a stringent diet, you may not be getting enough calories. Needs vary: take care to consume enough calories for your gender, body type and activity level. High-intensity exercisers need to get enough protein.
Don't, however, take all your calories in one or two daily feasts. Instead, eat five or six smaller meals. A full stomach draws blood to the belly and away from the brain, leaving you listless and dull. Smaller meals also help keep insulin levels constant, avoiding fluctuations of energy and mood.
Iron enables blood to carry oxygen to the organs of the body. Deprived of adequate oxygen, the brain cannot function optimally, leading to lack of mental acuity and feelings of fatigue. Iron intake is not in general a problem for men, but many women have mild iron deficiency. If you suspect you're not getting enough iron, boost your intake with foods like lean red meat, liver, spinach, and apricots.