10 Fatigue Fighting Foods

Do you feel drained? Have you lost all motivation and creativity?

Do you find it hard to focus on and learn new things?

If your answer was “yes” to all of these questions, then the chances are that you are struggling with fatigue.

But what exactly is fatigue? Is it true that fatigue and tiredness are the same things? Or perhaps they are very different? And most importantly – are there any foods that can fight against fatigue? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is fatigue?

We all feel tired, especially after a long day at work/school. But fatigue is much different than feeling tired. It is more complex than that. And so, you will hear doctors using this term to describe a condition of lack of energy and overall tiredness.

It is a condition that makes getting up in the morning unbearable and prevents the individual from completing even the simplest tasks that fulfill our everyday life. 

Over the years, researchers have identified two types of fatigue – physical and mental.

  • Physical fatigue makes it hard to do your usual chores and activities during the day. Even something as simple as climbing the stairs can be extremely hard due to physical fatigue.

  • Mental fatigue, on the other hand, makes it hard for you to concentrate and stay focus. It can make reading a book or even watching your favorite TV show impossible. 

There are different causes and symptoms of physical and mental fatigue. However, it is worth mentioning that in the majority of cases, we see the manifestation of both physical and mental fatigue. Usually, physical fatigue is the first one to develop. Repeated physical fatigue will then trigger mental fatigue to take place, as well. 

Many people struggle with what is known as chronic fatigue syndrome. This is considered to be a long-term disease that affects multiple body systems at the same time.

As a result, the individual experiences many different symptoms. This condition tends to present itself differently in each patient. As much as 17-24 million people worldwide are struggling with chronic fatigue on a day-to-day basis. 

Speaking of causes, much like the symptoms, there is a long line of potential causes as well. The number one cause of fatigue seems to be a lack of sleep and poor sleep quality.

Being physically inactive and having a poor diet that is nutrient-poor increases the chances of struggling with fatigue. Some medications, such as antidepressants, steroids, statins, sedatives, and high blood pressure medications, among others, can also cause fatigue. 

Then some conditions cause fatigue as a common symptom. Such examples would be depression, anxiety, Cushing syndrome, diabetes, eating disorders, and others. Feeling emotionally exhausted can also contribute to the occurrence of fatigue. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are a common cause of fatigue as well. 

What are the symptoms of fatigue?

As we mentioned, physical and mental fatigue cause a variety of symptoms. The symptoms can be physical, mental, and even emotional. However, in the majority of cases, we see a combination of the three symptom groups. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones. 

  • Sore/aching muscles

  • Lack of motivation

  • Drowsiness

  • Headaches

  • Irritability

  • Lack of focus/concentration

  • Vision issues

  • Bloating

  • Constipation/diarrhea

  • Slower response time

  • A decline in energy level, etc.

Since the symptoms and the causes are not always specific, diagnosing the issue may take some time. It may also take some time to find the right treatment as well. Speaking of treatment, the goal is to eliminate the root of the problem. 

If it is a vitamin deficiency that has been causing the symptoms, then the symptoms are expected to disappear after taking proper dietary supplements and relying on healthy food. This is usually a much easier case to solve. But if it is a certain health issue such as chronic pain, diabetes, high blood pressure, or rheumatoid arthritis, you may require a more complex treatment. 

10 foods to fight fatigue

One thing that not many people are familiar with is the natural treatment of fatigue. Learning from past cases, fatigue can be treated with the use of healthy food.

Some foods fight fatigue, and then there are those that cause it. In the following, we will focus on healthy eating and how it can help you reverse fatigue symptoms. 

1) Unprocessed foods

A lot of the time, we rely on highly processed foods to satisfy our hunger. The effect, however, is usually not a long-lasting one. Most of the time, we tend to feel hungry only an hour after eating that bag of potato chips.

Warming up a microwave dinner may save you some time and money, but it is not the smartest choice when it comes to your health. It might also be the food that is causing your fatigue being the highly processed food it is.

Processed foods are rich in artificial colors and sweeteners, refined sugar, additives, sodium, and very little to no protein, healthy carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Our advice would be to clean off your fridge and pantries. Throw away any canned food, candy, boxed meals, and precooked meals.

Instead, write a shopping list consisting of healthy food only. Start that list by adding unprocessed foods on the top of it. When we say unprocessed foods, we mean lean protein sources such as lean meat, fatty fish, eggs, and low-fat dairy products.

Fresh fruits and veggies are always a great choice as well. Replace simple, refined carbs with complex ones. Red meat, although rich in protein, is rich in unhealthy fats as well. That being said, it should be only consumed on rare occasions.

These small changes will help you transform your diet into healthy eating. In return, healthy eating will not only shield you from fatigue, but it will also prevent issues such as heart disease, high blood sugar level, high blood pressure, and even stroke. Remind yourself to make smart choices and include more energy-boosting foods in your diet.

2) Fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies

Speaking of fresh fruit and veggies, let’s take a look at some specific examples. Please keep in mind that all fruits and veggies are equally delicious and nutritious; therefore, they are healthy. However, there are some foods like fruits and veggies that are better to fight fatigue than others.

Watermelon, kale, spinach, sweet potato, apples, and berries are all excellent examples. Unlike processed foods, these fresh fruits and veggies are rich in many important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Vitamin B, magnesium, potassium, and healthy fat are all found in these seasonal foods.

One tip that you would like to hang on to is always choosing seasonal fruits and vegetables over frozen ones. That way, you will be sure of their quality and nutrition. This is especially important when it comes to spinach. 

Many of us use frozen spinach for our morning smoothies. While frozen spinach is still healthy and tasty, we prefer the fresh, seasonal one instead. Next time, instead of reaching out for a sugary snack, choose a piece of fresh fruit instead. This will deliver sustained energy levels and a good mood all during the day.

3) Whole grains and complex carbs

Through whole grains and complex carbs, you will be able to improve the nutrition and satiety level of your meal. Whole grains are a great source of fiber and several minerals, including magnesium. That being said, even when used in small amounts, whole grains will still efficiently satisfy your hunger. Try incorporating more quinoa, oats, rye bread, and brown rice in your diet. 

4) Nuts and seeds

Peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds along with walnuts, almonds, and pistachios are a great addition to anyone’s diet. Who does not like peanut butter or a tasty trail mix to use as a snack? Added to soups, smoothies, oatmeal, and even salads, nuts and seeds are easy to use. They add multiple nutrients to our meals, such as protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, and many vitamins. If you find your salad boring or not nutritious enough to satisfy your hunger, add a bit of nuts and seeds to taste the difference.

5) Oats

Oatmeal has to be our favorite complex carbohydrate. Unlike refined carbs, oats are filled with fiber with that being both soluble and insoluble fiber. The most important type of fiber, known as beta-glucan, is found in oats as well. Mix it with some berries and Greek yogurt, and you got yourself a perfectly-balanced breakfast that will keep your energy levels high all during the day.

6) Chia seeds

Chia seeds deserve a special place in our hearts. It is because of their long list of health benefits and nutrients that chia seeds are so popular. They are rich in fiber, protein, and Omega-3s, while also being rich in several minerals. Potassium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorous are some of the most significant ones.

7) Bananas

Another great mid-day snack idea is having a banana! Bananas are great potassium, magnesium, and fiber-rich fruit and, therefore, a great replacement to the usual complex carb-rich snacks.

Potassium is an important mineral for our diet, and we should use every single source to introduce enough of it daily. Pair up a banana with some dark chocolate, and you have a great snack for anyone with a sweet tooth. The amount of amino acid from this combination is incredible. 

Plus, research has shown that bananas are a much better option than having a carbohydrate sports drink. Results showed that cyclists who had a banana before a long ride had higher energy levels than those who had a carbohydrate sports drink.

8) Water

Due to high marketing, many believe that caffeine is the answer to our prayers whenever we feel down. You do not know that consuming a lot of caffeine may be the reason for your bad mood and low energy levels. Using caffeine to wake up in the morning may have some actual health benefits. But drink too much caffeine, and you will end up feeling shaky, irritable, and unable to fall asleep.

Instead of drinking endless cups of caffeine-infused drinks, try drinking more water. Aim for drinking at least 7-8 glasses of water a day. This will keep you well hydrated and refreshed during the day. And if you still find yourself craving caffeine, then try a different source.

Green tea, for example, other than caffeine, also contains a high level of antioxidants. Antioxidants are incredibly important for our health and preventing diseases. Just make sure that you do not add too much sugar to your coffee/tea and end up with lots of empty calories and carbs instead.

9) Eggs

If you prefer a salty breakfast, then we would recommend preparing some eggs. Eggs are one of the most affordable and nutrient-dense foods. They can be prepared in many ways and have great taste. Eggs are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, protein, etc. They are, in fact, the cheapest protein source out there. So, do not make the mistake of missing out on eggs.

10) Avocado

If you are looking for something with more potassium than bananas, then avocado is the perfect food for you. Many make the mistake of believing that avocado is a vegetable when, in fact, it represents one of the most nutritious fruits out there. It is incredibly easy to incorporate more avocado into your diet using fresh on a toast, baked, or as guacamole.

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Conclusion

If fatigue is a part of your daily life, changing your diet and incorporating certain foods that fight fatigue might help. We are talking about specific diet choices that are designed to provide a more stable blood sugar levels, and with that, secure, stable energy levels all throughout the day. Foods such as chia seeds, bananas, spinach, nuts, and peanut butter all make a great addition to our diet to help fight fatigue. Pair up these healthy food choices with any treatment method that your doctor may recommend and enjoy life without fatigue. 

Sources

  1. Harrington, M. E. (2012). Neurobiological studies of fatigue. Progress in Neurobiology, 99(2), 93-105. doi:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2012.07.004
    Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3479364/
  2. Nieman, D. C., Gillitt, N. D., Henson, D. A., Sha, W., Shanely, R. A., Knab, A. M., . . . Jin, F. (2012). Bananas as an Energy Source during Exercise: A Metabolomics Approach. PLoS ONE, 7(5). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037479
    Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22616015/
  3. Hrnčič, M. K., Ivanovski, M., Cör, D., & Knez, Ž. (2019). Chia Seeds (Salvia Hispanica L.): An Overview—Phytochemical Profile, Isolation Methods, and Application. Molecules, 25(1), 11. doi:10.3390/molecules25010011
    Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6994964/
  4. Guyenet, S. J. (2019). Impact of Whole, Fresh Fruit Consumption on Energy Intake and Adiposity: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in Nutrition, 6. doi:10.3389/fnut.2019.00066
    Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6518666/
Alternative Text

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Founder of ZayedMD, Dr. Ahmed believes in making the knowledge as accessible as possible to patients. He had his work featured in reputable publications such as The Huffington Post. Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Ahmed spends​ his time outside the hospital at the gym or with a good book.

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