Everyone experiences exhaustion at some point. Sometimes the reason is obvious—you’re a parent to a newborn who wakes up every hour during the night; you pulled an all-nighter getting the last bit of your thesis done; you worked a 14-hour shift at the hospital. These are all valid reasons to feel tired.
But what about feeling tired day in and day out with no obvious explanation? Fatigue can hit you at 2 p.m. during work when you find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open at your desk. It can strike the moment you walk through the door when all you want to do is melt into the couch and binge-watch your favorite TV show until it’s time to drag yourself to bed. Or your fatigue can be never-ending.
Fatigue is a serious issue that plagues many people in the Western world—and there’s a reason for it. It all comes back to how we treat our bodies and feed our cells.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome—also called myalgic encephalomyelitis—is coming to light as a syndrome similar to that of autoimmune diseases. Just like an autoimmune disease, it may be due to internal chronic inflammation, and as such, it may be improved with an anti-inflammatory diet.
Another condition, called adrenal fatigue, also deserves a mention, as it is a condition that most people struggle with at some point in their lives. When a person experiences chronic stress, it causes the adrenal glands to be overstimulated and to stop producing hormones properly. Adrenal fatigue may result in chronic fatigue, body aches, weight gain, weight loss, brain fog, hair loss, hormone imbalance, insulin resistance, light-headedness, decreased libido, moodiness, depression, muscle loss, and more.
Whether it’s the result of a rough day, a bad night’s sleep, chronic fatigue syndrome, or adrenal fatigue, you can get an energy boost with the following natural methods for fighting fatigue.
1. Eliminate Caffeine
In moderation it’s okay—but if you find that you simply can’t get through the day without your cup (or two or three) of coffee, then it’s time to break the addiction.
Sure, you’ll get nice—and very temporary—little boost from that cup o’ joe, but shortly after drinking it, your energy will take a dive, and you’ll be craving that next cup.
Also, if you drink a caffeinated beverage in the afternoon, your sleep quality may be severely affected. If you do choose to drink a cup of caffeinated coffee or tea, follow this schedule
2. Choose Whole Grains Over White Flour and Sugar
Refined carbohydrates—like white bread, white crackers, white rice, regular pasta, and baked goods—are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to feeling tired in the midmorning and midafternoon.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates cause a blood sugar spike. Since what goes up must come down, when your blood sugar spikes, you can expect it to crash shortly thereafter. An hour or two after a meal with sugar and refined carbohydrates, your body feels really low because of the blood sugar crash. Your options are to power through the tiredness with some cold water and stretching, or to reach for another helping of sugar and white flour for a quick pick-me-up.
Instead of experiencing these blood sugar crashes, you can have a steady release of energy throughout the day by eating whole grains. Choose brown rice and whole grain breads, pastas, and crackers instead.
Another benefit of cutting out sugar and refined carbohydrates is a decrease in inflammation. Processed foods cause an excess of free radicals in the body, which leads to oxidative stress, causing inflammation. Since chronic inflammation causes symptoms like fatigue, you may benefit from cutting inflammatory foods out of your diet.
3. Incorporate Adaptogenic Herbs into Your Diet
Adaptogens are healing plants, and they’re called adaptogens because they help the body adapt to stress. They combat stress and fatigue by regulating hormones, boosting the immune system, providing mental focus and physical endurance, and balancing out the mood.
Adaptogenic herbs can be consumed in the form of a capsule, powder, tea, or even in their fresh form. Some of the most popular adaptogenic herbs include Asian ginseng, holy basil, ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), Rhodiola, licorice root, and cordyceps mushrooms.
4. Drink Vegetable Juice
Juicing vegetables is a great way to increase the bioavailability of all those great phytonutrients they contain. Colorful vegetables are full of antioxidants that help the body to fight off free radical damage and to reduce inflammation that may be causing your fatigue.
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A regular cup of vegetable juice each morning will give you long-lasting energy that beats any boost you’ll get from a cup of coffee. Use your own juicer to make fresh vegetable juice from organic veggies, and you may find that your mental exhaustion is lifted after only a few days of juicing.
5. Eat Energy-Boosting Foods
Certain foods make you slow and sluggish, while other foods provide a long-lasting energy boost that will carry you through the day on a high note. Foods rich in healthy fats (like omega-3 fatty acids), protein, and complex carbohydrates are your best bet to beat fatigue. Add the following energy-boosting foods to your diet:
- Almonds. These nuts are rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, and the vitamin B complex.
- Bananas. Bananas are packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate (vitamin B9), and potassium.
- Chia Seeds. Notorious for their energy-boosting powers, chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, and essential minerals.
- Greek Yogurt. This yogurt delivers 17 g of protein per 6-oz serving and is a great source of calcium.
- Hummus. This creamy spread or dip is made from chickpeas, which are incredibly rich in both fiber and protein, and are an excellent source of the vitamin B complex and many essential minerals.
- Oatmeal. Steel-cut oats and whole oats contain protein, fiber, and iron for long-lasting energy throughout the morning.
- Salmon. Fatty fish, like salmon, is considered a “brain food” because they’re high in omega-3s, which have been shown to improve cognition, boost mood, reduce inflammation, and treat depression.
One of the first signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is fatigue. Vitamin B12 is necessary for maintaining healthy nerve cells and in the production of DNA and RNA. Vitamin B12 and vitamin B9—also known as folate, or folic acid— both work together to make red blood cells and to facilitate the work of iron in the body.
Vitamin B12 can be found in animal foods such as liver, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Vegans and vegetarians may need to take supplements in order to get enough vitamin B12.
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7. Improve Your Quality of Sleep
First of all, you should be getting 7–8 hours of sleep every night. If you aren’t, then it’s time to implement a routine to make sure you do.
If you find that you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or that you’re restless during the night, there may be things you can do to improve your sleep quality.
Don’t underestimate the power of a pre-bedtime routine. Once your body becomes accustomed to the routine, it will relax quickly, and you’ll be able to fall asleep more easily. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Put away screens at least half an hour before you go to sleep. If you find that you’re waking up during the night to empty your bladder, stop drinking liquids—except for a few sips of water here and there—two hours before you go to bed.
8. Exercise Regularly
Daily physical activity helps to keep you energized during the day and snoozing during the night. When your body is accustomed to working out, your metabolism will increase, and so will your energy levels.
Because you’ll be expending all that energy during the day, your body will take advantage of your sleep time and use it for muscle recovery. That means that you will fall asleep more easily each night and your sleep quality will be improved once you start working out daily.
9. Check Your Iron Levels
If your body is weak and your brain is fogged, it may be time to check your iron levels. Iron deficiency anemia is one cause of fatigue that can usually be fixed easily.
Iron is needed for blood production. The majority of the iron in your body is found in the red blood cells, called hemoglobin, which transfers oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, brain fog, dizziness, leg cramps, and insomnia.
If there’s a chance your fatigue is due to iron deficiency, you should go get that blood test ASAP.
10. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is another common cause of fatigue that may fly under the radar. If you’re chugging coffee to keep awake, you’ve got it wrong. Coffee is a diuretic, which means that it causes you to pass urine or “lose water.” It’s possible that if you drink coffee in the morning and skip the water, you’re always a little dehydrated.
During the winter when you have the heat blasting, there’s also a good chance you’re dehydrated. Heating dries out the air big time, so just sitting in your office or at home with the heat on can zap you of energy.
There are many other scenarios that can cause you to become dehydrated. The point is that you should be drinking at least 8–9 glasses of water each day to stay hydrated and fight exhaustion.
11. Daily Meditation or Yoga
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in a never-ending cycle from work grind to home life to outside commitments, leaving you with no chance to breathe, slow down, or focus on yourself.
Implementing a daily routine of meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can help you to rebalance and regain energy when you need it most. Meditation has a lot of great benefits. It’s been proven to help manage depression, reduce stress, improve cardiovascular health, and enhance cognitive functions.
When you’re feeling zapped of energy, your cells are sending you a message that it’s time for a change. Implement these methods into your daily life for real, natural, and long-lasting energy.