The Relationship Between Diet and Fatigue
The old adage "you are what you eat" is well known, but have you ever really thought about what it means? We all know a heavy pasta meal might make us tired in a few hours. Sugar gives some a rush, and caffeine may provide a temporary energy boost. But the cliché delves much deeper than that. "You are what you eat..." is one of the best pieces of advice you may find for maintaining good health. As healthy eating continues to push to the forefront of newsworthy topics, more Americans of all ages are learning the value of consuming proper, well-balanced diets.
Healthy eating cultivates good overall health; it potentially helps ward off some medical conditions; and it positively affects other conditions. For instance, those with diabetes are able to maintain better health when they follow the correct diet for that disease. People with high-cholesterol can help improve that condition when following nutritional guidelines that aid in decreasing cholesterol levels.
Healthy eating is beneficial in other ways, both medical and non-medical, including battling fatigue. Knowing this may be of particular interest to the senior population who are prone to experience a lack of energy and increased fatigue due to medical conditions, medications, and the aging process, in general. To make it easy to understand, this analogy may help: your body needs the proper amount of nutrients in order to function best, very much like a car needs gasoline. Without a continual supply of nutrients and sufficient calories needed to perform both physical and mental activities, your body can become sluggish and tired on a daily basis. The subsequent lethargy can leave you feeling much like you have run out of gas.
The good news is - provided your lack of energy is not caused by a medical condition or medication - fatigue can easily be addressed by learning to eat well-balanced meals and snacks that contain enough calories and nutrients to keep your body in optimum health. Even if fatigue is caused by an underlying condition, medication or stress, eating well can help boost energy levels and counteract excessive tiredness.
Simply eating to stave off hunger during the day is not sufficient. Also, keep in mind that if your body out-performs its caloric intake, this can cause increased tiredness. The foods that you choose to eat are essential. However, overeating can also cause fatigue, as it causes the digestive process to work overtime and can contribute to feelings of lethargy. The key to healthy eating is choosing key foods that contain adequate nutrients and consuming these meals or snacks in appropriate portions.
Foods that are nutrient-rich that can help fight fatigue are not hard to find. Opt for plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Vegetables should not be overcooked, as doing so causes a loss of nutrients. Red meat and spinach provide needed iron, while fish such as tuna or salmon contain omega-3 fats - all of which are helpful in fighting fatigue. Proteins can also be obtained by consuming fish, lean meat and beans. Nuts offer a protein boost and are a good snack choice. Choose whole grain pasta, rice, bread and cereal to complete a well-balanced, fatigue-fighting diet.
If you suspect your fatigue is due to poor eating habits, changing your diet may be all you need to feel energized daily. However, there are medical conditions that can cause fatigue. It is important to discuss this with your care provider to determine if your fatigue may be due to an underlying health issue. In the meantime, feel free to pursue healthy eating habits because the end result will be a healthier you!
Andrews, Jill. Livestrong.org (2011). Food to fight fatigue. Retrieved on March 22, 2012 from livestrong.com/article/375604-food-to-fight-fatigue/.
Tree.com. Healthy eating: diet and fatigue. Retrieved on March 22, 2012 from tree.com/health/chronic-fatigue-treatment-diet.aspx.
Psychologytoday.com (2003 / 2011). Fighting fatigue with diet. Retrieved on March 22, 2012 from psychologytoday.com/articles/200310/fighting-fatigue-diet.