Eating unprocessed foods can provide vitamins and give you sustained energy levels. This can positively affect your focus and health and whether you always feel tired. But can the opposite also be true?
“Highly processed foods provide a brief burst of energy or a flood of happy hormones that energise us only for a short period of time, before causing an energy slump,” says registered dietician Elysia Moodley.
To avoid the slump, it is recommended that you adopt healthier food habits, which include a well-balanced diet, says Moodley.
So, why am I always so tired?
Fatigue can be caused by a variety of factors, including the wrong nutrition. When it comes to diet, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, especially in iron, vitamin B12 and folate, may be the cause of your constant tiredness. If this is accompanied by nausea, pale complexion, pale nails and brittle nails, see a doctor, advises Moodley.
Our eating habits may be a cause for concern
While there are no specific foods that directly cause fatigue, our eating habits can have a significant impact on our low energy levels. This is likely to happen if you consume an unbalanced diet on a regular basis, with a heavy emphasis on convenience foods like energy bars, energy drinks and fast foods. Because these foods are usually heavily processed, they contain a lot of sugar and other additives, says Moodley.
“Processed foods are high in sodium and trans fats, which in the long run may lead to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension.”
Did you know that One of the first symptoms of dehydration, or a lack of fluid in the body, is fatigue? This fatigue can be physical and mental. Regular water intake is therefore essential to help maintain optimal energy levels.
What are the most common foods we consume without realising they are bad for our health?
Moodley says she has witnessed patients who have switched to coconut oil as their cooking oil because they believe it is healthier. However, studies have revealed that coconut oil is high in saturated fats, which are lipids that can lead to cardiovascular disease if consumed in large amounts on a regular basis.
This can be easily replaced with canola oil, which is inexpensive and contains omega 3 and omega 6.
“Fats such as omega 3 and 6 help lower bad cholesterol, which in turn reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Moodley.
What can you do to avoid energy slumps?
Divide your day’s meals into five small ones. Ensure that these meals contain fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates (wholegrains and high-fibre starches) and lean proteins, among other things.
Eat healthy and fresh snacks in between meals to keep your energy levels high. Fresh fruit and dairy products can be included in this category. If possible, stay away from energy bars and refined carbs (pies, pastries, high GI foods).
The Glycaemic index (GI) is a system for rating foods containing carbohydrates. It displays how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) levels on its own. Avoid foods such as white bread and soft drinks, which release energy quickly but not sustainably.
Finally, stay hydrated, advises Moodley.
“[These eating habits] will prevent the body from getting a quick burst of energy [followed by a slump] and instead provide it with a slow and steady supply of fuel. That should be enough to stave off your fatigue,” concludes Moodley.