Fatigue breaks us down physically and emotionally and wreaks havoc on the immune system, making us more susceptible to illness, depression, and even chronic conditions like heart disease. But we have the power to change our habits, boost our energy, and feel terrific.
We all know that regular exercise, stress management, and getting at least eight hours of sleep are critical for combating fatigue. It also turns out that our eating habits directly affect our energy levels, and there are ways we can use nutrition to feel more energy throughout the day.
1. Eat predominantly nutrient-dense foods
Optimal energy metabolism (the process that converts food to energy) requires an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Every cell in our body can unlock its energy potential with the proper fuel from food. If we don’t get enough nutrients from foods, we suffer from sub-optimal cellular energy metabolism, making us feel tired and sluggish.
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The best way to combat this is to choose foods that have a lot of nutrition per calorie. These include vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains, and lean animal proteins. Refined breads, fried and fatty foods, sweets and desserts, and processed snack foods give us lots of calories with little nutrition, which is why you’ll feel so much better if you base your diet on minimally processed, whole foods.
2. Seek out foods high in antioxidants
Antioxidants are the body’s scavengers of those damaging chemicals that tax our system and cause fatigue and lead to illness. Being that there are thousands of natural, protective antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods, a pill or processed food will never come close to what you’ll get from the whole food.
Furthermore, too much of certain nutrients can be risky – this risk is alleviated when the nutrients come packaged in a whole food, which is naturally balanced with complementary nutrients and thousands of health-supporting compounds. Seek out colorful, juicy fruits like berries and melons, and dark green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, collard greens, and spinach.