Causes of Tiredness
Any of the following can contribute towards our tiredness.
- Anaemia (low iron levels)
- Having an underactive thyroid gland
- Being overweight or underweight
- Side-effects of medicines
- Poor sleep (see my previous post on insomnia.)
- Too much caffeine
- Too much sugar
- Too little or too much exercise
- Skipping meals
Looking at the above list, I can’t help noticing that most of it focuses on our dietary intake. So, this article will be mainly, concentrating on food and drink aspects.
Note. See your doctor if you’re constantly tired, for longer than 4 weeks.
Assuming you don’t have a medical reason for your tiredness and you’re not stressed (!) you might not be getting enough of the following nutrients in your diet:- vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, magnesium and potassium.
B12 is needed to make red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout your body. If you’re not getting enough, you are unable to efficiently transport oxygen to your body’s cells, making you feel tired and weak.
D is vital for making your muscles work efficiently and it boosts energy levels. Low levels of D can include muscle weakness, pain, fatigue and depression.
Your body needs iron to make a protein called ‘haemoglobin,’ which is found in red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen around your body.
This mineral is involved in many of your body’s processes. If you have low levels of it, you could develop fatigue, muscle cramps, mental problems, irregular heartbeat and osteoporosis.
Potassium helps regulate muscle contractions. If you have low levels of it, then your muscles could feel weak and you could become fatigued.
Foods to eat to Boost Your Energy Levels
- Brown rice
- Beans and pulses
- Iron-enriched cereals
- Whole grain bread and pasta
- Breakfast cereals, (especially the ones with vitamins etc. added to them)
- Soya foods
- Dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach
- Peanut butter
Dos and Don’ts
- Eat breakfast
- Exercise regularly. It’s recommended that you exercise for 150 minutes a week. A study, by the University of Georgia in Athens, found that the fatigue of sedentary individuals improved, when they completed an exercise programme, as compared with the individuals who didn’t.
- Cut down on sugar. Too much can make you even more tired.
- Skip meals. Long gaps between your meals can cause your blood sugar to drop, lowering your energy levels.
- Restrict your fluid intake. Dehydration is one of the main causes of tiredness. If you’re not well-hydrated, your body will focus its resources on maintaining water balance. Aim to drink 2 litres a day and yes, this includes your tea and coffee.
As a rule, my energy levels are pretty good.
In the past, I use to be a sugar junkie and worse still, I barely exercised. I thought I was ok but, I did tire easily and my body ached, particularly, if I had a lazy day slumped in front of the telly. I couldn’t even walk upstairs without being out of breath. I was even worse after a night of drinking.
About a few years ago, I decided to go to the gym for the first time. I noticed that gradually, my energy levels did improve. Also, I started running again.
Then, I looked at my diet and decided to cut down on my sugary food. I stopped buying foods high in sugar when I went to the supermarket, to remove the temptation.
I now notice that when I do eat cake, for example, after about half of hour, I find myself falling asleep! (Hopefully, you’re not doing this, when reading this article!)
I always feel energized after my runs.
I never skip meals. (I love my food too much to do that!)
So, if you regularly struggle with tiredness and assuming you haven’t got a medical condition causing it, then make sure that most days, you eat the above foods, cut down on sugar and alcohol, eat regular meals, keep yourself hydrated and finally, get moving.
Sources: nhs.uk, medicalnewstoday.com, healthline.com, onhealth.com, nutritionist-resource.org.uk, eatright.org, web.com