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9 Ways to Fight Fatigue with Food

Amanda Page Jun 27th, 2013 (updated Nov 6th, 2014)
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Fatigue can wreak havoc on emotional and physical health and weaken the immune system. But good nutritional habits can work wonders by boosting your energy and alertness. Here are some ways to naturally increase your energy with food.

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Ditch the caffeine
Ditch the caffeine

Sure, coffee and tea come with host of health benefits.  But if you’re feeling fatigued, these wonder drinks provide a false ‘high.’ Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause energy to peak, but then dissipate quickly, leaving you feeling even more tired than before.  Caffeine is also a diuretic, which means it causes dehydration, which can make you feel even more run down. 

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Add nuts
Add nuts

Having low levels of magnesium can quickly sap your energy. Magnesium is an essential mineral responsible for converting sugar into energy.  Snack on some magnesium-rich nuts such as  hazelnuts, almonds, or cashews to replenish your stores.  Other sources of magnesium include whole grains, bran cereals, and halibut fish.   

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Include iron
Include iron

Iron deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency, effecting almost 10 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 49.  Because iron is needed to distribute oxygen to cells, symptoms of deficiency include fatigue and impaired physical/mental performance.  Great plant sources of iron include spinach, beans, sesame seeds, and lentils.  

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Be complex
Be complex

Complex carbs are vital for boosting energy levels, as they are your body’s preferred source of fuel.  And, as an added benefit, they raise levels of serotonin – the feel-good chemical.   Carbohydrates from whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and cereals, are absorbed more slowly, keeping your blood sugar and energy levels stable. In contrast, simple carbs are packed with sugar, causing blood sugar to spike and crash.   

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Don't reject frozen veggies
Don't reject frozen veggies

Many people shun frozen vegetables thinking that veggies need to be fresh in order to be healthy.  While fresh vegetables are indeed healthy, frozen vegetables are often left to peak longer than freshly picked vegetables, making them potentially more nutritious. Keep in mind that as soon as a vegetable is harvested, its nutrients begin to deteriorate.

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Balance the goods
Balance the goods

Sure, proteins or complex carbs are energy boosters on their own, but when combined, they’re unstoppable!  An optimal formula for boosting energy combines a fruit or vegetable with a whole grain, a lean protein, a vegetable-based fat, and an herb or spice.  Balancing these energy-inducing nutrients is a good way to ensure that your body is getting everything it needs---and not too little or too much of a specific vitamin or mineral. 

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Get real
Get real

The more natural your food is, the better you will feel after eating it.  Think whole grains instead of processed crackers, or a piece of fruit rather than a juice or a prepackaged snack.  Not only will the “real” ingredients cut calories and help you lose weight, but you will feel energized because you are cutting fatigue-inducing sugars and additives.  

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Think seasonally
Think seasonally

A good trick to eating the most nutritious foods is to consume what is in season.  Finding produce at the local farmer’s market will help ensure that you are eating freshly harvested food at its nutritional peak, because it was picked later and didn’t travel far to end up in your home.  Farmer’s market shopping will also ensure that you are frequently switching up your nutrient sources. 

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Healthy fats
Healthy fats

Cutting fats will also cut your energy.  Fat is a key element for absorbing energy-boosting antioxidants, and opting for fat-free or low-fat dressing can prevent that energy boost.  Vegetable oils such as avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil are excellent healthy sources of fat and are a great addition to a salad.