You lack energy, you’re tired, you’re drained. No matter how you phrase it, you need a pick me up, and you already know those artificial energy drinks are not good for your health. This is precisely why Health Fitness Revolution put together a list of the best foods to fight chronic fatigue and give your day a natural pick-me-up!
Instead of reaching for a sugary snack to help you stay awake during your morning meeting or power through an afternoon slump, try snacking on these perfectly portable, fatigue-fighting foods:
- Water: Most Americans walk through life chronically dehydrated and fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration. Even a small drop in your body’s water levels can hurt you. A recent study from Tufts University found that mild dehydration — a loss of just 1 to 2% of body weight as water — was enough to impair thinking.
- Pumpkin Seeds: These are great energy boosters because of their levels of magnesium. When researchers at the U.S. Agricultural Research Service restricted intake of the mineral among 13 women ages 47 to 75 for 4 months, they found that those with magnesium deficiencies required more oxygen uptake during physical activity, used more energy, and therefore tired more easily.
- Greek Yogurt: because it is full of probiotics, and research suggests that an imbalance in microorganisms in the digestive tract is partially to blame for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Swedish researchers tested the effects of eating yogurt rich in probiotics—“good bacteria” that aids digestive health—on 15 CFS patients. After eating 2 deciliters (about 6.8 ounces) of yogurt twice daily for 4 weeks, 14 of 15 study subjects reported improvements in fatigue symptoms, physical health, or mental health.
- Wheat Bran: High in fiber, not only can it help you fight fat, it turns out the nutrient can also help you feel more awake. Researchers at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people who ate high-fiber wheat bran cereal suffered less emotional distress, experienced fewer cognitive difficulties, and were less fatigued than their counterparts who did not eat as much fiber. Participants had 10% more energy.
- Whole Grains: are complex carbohydrates, which were wrote about here. The body digests and releases complex carbs slowly, keeping your blood sugar (and your mood) stable.
- Nuts: because they are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which researchers found particularly low levels in Chronically Fatigued patients. Omega-3s also help relieve depression symptoms, which commonly contribute to CFS.
- Dark Chocolate: Science suggests that the polyphenols in dark chocolate increase levels of the happiness-boosting brain chemical serotonin and thus reduce feelings of fatigue. Researchers at Hull York Medical School in the United Kingdom provided 10 CFS patients with 45 g of chocolate each day for 2 months. Study subjects received either dark chocolate or white chocolate that had been dyed brown. Those eating the dark chocolate reported significantly less fatigue. Read our article about eating more dark chocolate here.
- Tea: is better than coffee at fighting fatigue because it contains an important fatigue-fighting ingredient: l-theanine. When paired with caffeine, the amino acid found naturally in tea improves cognition more effectively than caffeine alone, according to a study published in Biological Psychology.
- Citrus Fruits and Peppers: are high in Vitamin C, which is more than a cold fighter—the antioxidant also helps reduce oxidative stress, the result of too many free radicals in the body, another contributor to CFS. In a small study of 44 adults published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, those who received 6 g of vitamin C every day for 2 weeks felt less fatigued. Study participants also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Avoid the following foods:
- Processed Foods: Fast food, canned foods high in sodium, candy, most packaged foods, boxed meals, and pre-cooked meats—typically full of unwanted chemicals, preservatives, sodium, and other compounds that can slow you down.
- Coffee: Yes, the first sips give you a jolt, but you know the crash is coming. Cutting back on caffeine can stabilize your energy levels so you can feel better. If you must have your fix, drink black coffee. Sodas and energy drinks are chock full of sugar and other substances that your body doesn’t want.
- Refined Carbohydrates like sugars and white flour are void of nutrition, yet they’re in so many foods we consume. Switch instead to whole wheat flowers as mentioned in our article here.