NU­TRI­TION

Foods to fight fa­tigue.

Simply Her (Singapore) - - SimplyHer - BY CH­ERYL LEONG

What Causes Lethargy

Hor­monal im­bal­ances dur­ing our pe­ri­ods, or emo­tional and life­style fac­tors like lack of sleep, stress and de­pres­sion can cause fa­tigue-like symp­toms. Almost 80 per cent of women feel weak, tired and lethar­gic from time to time, says Jane Free­man, a regis­tered di­eti­tian and sports nu­tri­tion­ist from Food Equa­tion. Women with med­i­cal con­di­tions like thy­roid prob­lems, anaemia or ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome may re­port feel­ing drained, too.

A poorly man­aged diet can also ex­ac­er­bate symp­toms of fa­tigue, adds Rd­dhi Naidu, a clin­i­cal di­eti­tian from Park­way East Hos­pi­tal. For ex­am­ple, if you skip meals, es­pe­cially break­fast, you’re more likely to load up on high-sugar snacks or a heavy lunch. This causes your blood sugar level to spike – and when it drops shortly after, you’ll have an en­ergy slump.

To give your body an all-day en­ergy power-up, try in­tro­duc­ing th­ese foods into your diet.

Eat Th­ese

1 NUTS They have an es­tab­lished rep­u­ta­tion as a pick-me-up, and are ex­cel­lent sources of pro­tein and fi­bre – which work to­gether for sus­tain­able en­ergy re­lease, says Rd­dhi. Al­monds, wal­nuts and pis­ta­chios also con­tain mag­ne­sium, an im­por­tant nu­tri­ent that helps reg­u­late blood cells for en­ergy pro­duc­tion.

For a quick en­ergy boost after a work­out, have a hand­ful of nuts to re­plen­ish the elec­trolytes you’ve lost and pre­vent fa­tigue from set­ting in.

2 BEANS “Beans, like kid­ney beans and chick­peas, are low in fat, high in pro­tein and chock-full of fi­bre. They give you en­ergy while keep­ing your blood sugar lev­els sta­ble,” says Rd­dhi.

3 COF­FEE AND TEA “There’s no denying the en­ergy kick caf­feine gives, but go for a latte or cap­puc­cino in­stead of black cof­fee. The added dairy makes it a high-pro­tein op­tion, and you’ll get dou­ble the ben­e­fits,” says Jane.

If you pre­fer to go easy on the java, have a cup of green tea in­stead. This al­ter­na­tive source of caf­feine is rich in L-thea­nine, an amino acid that im­proves men­tal alert­ness and com­bats weari­ness.

4 MELONS Ac­cord­ing to Jane, you only need to be 2 per cent de­hy­drated to feel fa­tigued. Be­sides drink­ing the op­ti­mal eight glasses of wa­ter a day, you can con­sume foods with lots of H2O, too.

“For ex­am­ple, melons have a wa­ter con­tent of 80-90 per cent, and can be a re­fresh­ing mid-morn­ing snack or tasty thirst-quencher,” says Rd­dhi. You can have two serv­ings a day. Opt for whole fruit wher­ever pos­si­ble – the fi­bre may be re­duced when it is juiced.

5 DAIRY PROD­UCTS LIKE SKIMMED MILK, COT­TAGE CHEESE AND YO­GURT Th­ese foods are rich in amino acids – the build­ing blocks of pro­tein – that build and re­pair our mus­cles, says Jane. They are also low-gly­caemic in­dex (GI) car­bo­hy­drates, which means the sug­ars break down slowly to give you a sus­tained re­lease of en­ergy through­out the day.

Flavoured milk or yo­gurt has a higher sugar con­tent, so if you pre­fer it, go for low­fat ver­sions, ad­vises Rd­dhi.

6 EGGS A pro­tein-rich food that’s full of B vi­ta­mins, eggs are a great source of en­ergy. But more im­por­tantly, they load you up on iron – a min­eral es­sen­tial in the for­ma­tion of haemoglobin to carry oxy­gen around the body.

“A de­fi­ciency in haemoglobin can re­sult in anaemia, where in­suf­fi­cient oxy­gen is trans­ported to your or­gans, lead­ing to fa­tigue,” ex­plains Rd­dhi.

7 SWEET POTA­TOES AND YAMS “A good source of com­plex car­bo­hy­drates, th­ese are good for sta­bil­is­ing your en­ergy lev­els be­cause they break down slowly in the di­ges­tive sys­tem,” says Jane. They are also high in fi­bre – they keep you full for a longer du­ra­tion, so you won’t reach for sug­ary snacks that will trig­ger the blood sugar “roller coaster”.

You can roast or cook them in a risotto, por­ridge or soup. If you are not used to the taste, you can mix them with reg­u­lar pota­toes to make them more palat­able.

8 MUSH­ROOMS “They are full of B vi­ta­mins like ri­boflavin and pan­tothenic acid, that aid in con­vert­ing car­bo­hy­drates and pro­teins into en­ergy,” says Jane.

Ri­boflavin pro­motes en­ergy pro­duc­tion, while pan­tothenic acid sup­ports the adrenal glands which reg­u­late our stress hor­mones to pre­vent adrenal fa­tigue.

9 AV­O­CA­DOS This fruit is a rare ex­am­ple of a high-fat, low-GI food. It is full of mo­noun­sat­u­rated fat that helps lower blood choles­terol lev­els and is ben­e­fi­cial for the heart. “This fat is sim­i­lar to omega-3 fatty acids, which have been pos­i­tively as­so­ci­ated with brain health and are linked to im­proved moods – and en­ergy lev­els, too,” says Jane.

10 OAT­MEAL Opt for whole­grain or “pin­head” oats. Whole­grain oats have a lower GI, which helps bal­ance blood sugar lev­els; fine, rolled oats, on the other hand, are cut thin­ner and pro­cessed, so the en­ergy turnover rate is faster, ex­plains Jane.

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