Tiredness is such a common complaint that it seems to effect most people on at least a few days a week. Someone has probably complained to you about being tired today already…
A recent study from the National Sleep Foundation found that 40% of adults commonly complained about being tired. Furthermore 10% of all visits to the doctor are due to tiredness and lethargy.
So what is the solution? It may surprise you to know that getting more sleep, (although this is an obvious solution), is not the only fix to this problem. Our diet is a huge contributing factor to daily tiredness and lethargy.
Energy From Foods
Carbohydrates from foods contribute greatly to our energy levels throughout the day, and quality of carbohydrates ensures that energy levels are adequate and maintained. Carbohydrates are a macronutrient and are the most easily converted to energy used to power out brain and bodies throughout the day.
Carbohydrates are found mainly in fruits, breads, pastas, grains and vegetables. It is important that we choose wholegrain and the least processed sources of carbohydrates, as these are generally lower GI (glycemic index). This ensures your blood sugar levels rise slowly and prevent sudden spikes and troughs in energy that cause us to become very tired afterwards. Opt for low GI fruit such as acai over highly sugary fruit such as dates and melons, and vegetables such as sweet potato over potato.
Eating a diet high in foods that contain the right vitamins and minerals is also important in preventing tiredness. Iron is a key mineral for energy and is utilised by the body to carry oxygen around our blood to the muscles. Red meat is a fantastic source of iron, white meats are also a good source, and plenty of dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, silver beet, kale and bok choy!
B Vitamins are another important nutrient for energy and are used in the Krebs Cycle, which takes place in the body and is the method in which the body breaks down and extracts energy from food through the gut wall to be used to rebuild cells and make organs function! B Vitamins are so important that this cycle couldn’t take place without them present in our diet. Because B vitamins are easily flushed out of our body when we go to the toilet, it is important to keep a good source coming into the body. There are many different B vitamins and they are all important. Some good sources are from whole grains (with the bran included), meat, dairy, legumes, some vegetables and fruits such as acai, which contains B1, B2 and B3!
Another way to boost energy levels and prevent tiredness throughout the day is to consume foods high in the Coenzyme Q10, which is a vitamin like nutrient. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is present in each cell in the body and improves the efficacy of energy production in the mitochondria (energy factory of each cell). CoQ10 can be found in foods such as meat, poultry and fish and because it is fat soluble it, is also found in foods high in naturally occurring healthy oils such as omega 3, 6 & 9. For this reason it is also found in some fruits and vegetables that contain these oils such as avocado, acai and nuts.
Lastly, we know water is important for so many reasons, but what you may not know is that adequate water intake is important for our energy levels too. Although water actually contains no energy its self, an sufficient intake of about 2 litres a day is important for maintaining our blood volume! If we dehydrate and our blood volume decreases, out heart is forced to work harder to pump blood through our body, this leaves us feeling exhausted. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to sip water regularly throughout the day rather in large amounts at a time.