Date PostedMay 3, 2013

The Role of a Good Diet in Fatigue Management

Many experts swear by the potential of a good diet to help people maintain their energy levels and fight fatigue.

While the entire body’s health and normal functioning is benefited by a healthy, well-balanced diet in this post we look at the benefits of certain foods and how they can help fight fatigue.

Drink plenty of water. Nutritionists and health experts are constantly nagging us to drink as more water so we have become complacent about the issue but water is vital for the bodily functions to operate at their optimum, in other words for us to remain alert. Mild dehydration is a common and often overlooked cause of fatigue. Dehydration can reduce blood flow to organs, slowing down your brain and inducing fatigue. Drink around eight glasses of water a day and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to do so.

Eat breakfast. The normal, every-day functioning of the brain burns a lot of calories so eating breakfast will allow your brain to be adequately fuelled for the day’s tasks.

Eat iron-rich foods to oxygenate the body. Iron enables blood to carry oxygen to the organs of the body. Deprived of adequate oxygen, the brain cannot function optimally, leading to lack of mental acuity and subsequently feelings of fatigue. Many people, particularly women suffer from iron deficiencies. Iron levels can be boosted by taking in foods rich in iron such as liver, spinach, lean red meat and apricots.

Eat protein and carbs in combination, especially at lunch to avoid that mid-afternoon drowsiness. Carbohydrates and protein in tandem at lunchtime fight the mid-afternoon fatigue because proteins have tryptophan, precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes a calm, relaxed feeling, which helps to fight emotional fatigue. Eaten with protein, carbohydrates may boost the brain’s intake of tryptophan. Protein-rich foods also contain tyrosine, a precursor to neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, promoters of alertness, attention, and motivation.

Don’t overdose on caffeine. Although some studies recently have shown that truck drivers who use caffeine to stay alert were less likely to crash than others who didn’t use caffeine, it should be used sparingly especially towards later in the day because it can result in insomnia which will disrupt your sleeping patterns and cause fatigue the next day.

As important as the diet is to overall health and wellbeing (and subsequently avoiding fatigue), moderate exercise and sufficient restful sleep are also important in maintaining good health and avoiding fatigue. If you are having any trouble sleeping, then aim to have a better sleep routine such as going to bed and getting up at the same time. You could also improve your sleeping environment by making sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and comfortable.

Avoiding drinking too much alcohol, getting enough fresh, clean air and avoiding stressful situations as much as possible may also help in reducing fatigue and should form part of your fatigue management programme.

Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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