Fatigue is a killer. It makes us feel lethargic and unmotivated and worsens health conditions like heart disease, obesity and depression. Tiredness is also responsible for a high number of fatal accidents each year. If you’ve exhausted all your ideas to overcome feeling weary, then it may be time to adjust your diet.
Cortisol is a hormone that controls your sleep cycle. High glycaemic index foods such as sugar and refined white bread cause cortisol levels to rise rapidly. Even having a sugary, low-fibre breakfast will result in a cortisol overshoot making you feel lethargic during the day and restless at night.
The good news is that if you eat regular low glycaemic meals then you’ll lower your cortisol levels. Good choices are eggs, meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. Eating high quality carbohydrate close to bedtime will result in a shorter time to falling asleep. Adequate protein will ensure you have energy throughout the day and a quality nights rest
Avoid meals that are too large or too high in fat and eat something every two to four hours. Food supplies the body with glucose and when you go long periods without eating your cells can’t make energy. This creates that cranky afternoon feeling where you feel tired and find it hard to focus. Eat plenty of complex carbohydrate such as wholegrain foods and fruits and veggies.
Dehydration will also make you feel sluggish. Drink fluids regularly through the day and taper off in the evening. A water bottle at your desk and in the car is a handy reminder. Mix a bit of juice with your water or try sparkling if you’re not a water drinker. Try not to prop yourself up on too many lattes in the afternoon as this will only lead to further fatigue.
Check your iron intake. This vital mineral transports oxygen around the body. If you’re not getting enough, you’ll feel weak and weary. Eat plenty of red meat, poultry, legumes and nuts. Avoid caffeine with these foods as it inhibits your absorption of iron. Enhance your uptake of iron by munching on foods that are high in Vitamin C such as strawberries, oranges or red capsicum.
An intolerance or food allergy can be a cause of tiredness. This is because these foods alter digestion and your body has to work extra hard to deal with symptoms such as headaches, skin rashes and stomach upsets. Excessive tiredness after eating could also be a sign that you have abnormally high blood glucose levels which you should get checked by your GP.
You need a quality evening sleep to feel energised the next day. Limit caffeine containing foods and beverages to at least six hours outside of your shut eye time. Even foods like chocolate can have an impact. Avoid, eating spicy and acidic food such as citrus fruit, tomatoes, onion, garlic and black pepper which may cause indigestion and wakeful hours.
Diet can make a big difference to your night time rest and energy levels during the day. Eating regular, small healthy meals that have complex carbohydrate and adequate protein is great for your health and daytime endurance. If you’ve changed your food and you’re still feeling weary, then there’s also a nap for that.