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How to fight fatigue naturally

16-03-2016

Fight Fatigue… Naturally!

Fatigue is a very common complaint in the UK, with around 20 percent of us affected at one time or another. Feeling unusually tired can be frustrating – especially if you’ve been taking measures to sleep well, such as going to bed at a reasonable time – and many of us are reaching for caffeine-filled energy drinks to perk us up. According to the European Food Safety Authority, there has been a huge rise in the consumption of energy drinks across Europe [1] in the last few years, sparking serious health concerns.

Caffeine has been linked with issues affecting the heart and the central nervous system [2], and the problem is that, despite research, we still don’t know what a ‘safe’ level of caffeine is. Energy drinks usually contain between 80 mg and 160 mg of caffeine, and experts are unable to say with any certainty whether these quantities could be harmful or not. What we do know, however, is that we are putting ourselves at increased risk of disease by consuming high caffeine energy drinks when we’re tired. Instead, the NHS recommends self help techniques [3], including dietary changes, food supplements, and exercise, to help combat feelings of tiredness and ensure we’re always ready to get on with our day.

Diet

It’s widely believed that vitamin deficiencies could play a significant role in feelings of fatigue. Research has found a link between vitamin C deficiency and tiredness [4], and those suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome regularly have B vitamin deficiencies, particularly riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), and thiamine (B1) [5]. Small dietary changes to include more citrus fruits – a great source of Vitamin C – and more pork, poultry, fish, and eggs, which are all good sources of B vitamins, could make a big difference.

Food Supplements

The NHS report that around 3 million people in the UK are malnourished [6], which means they’re not getting the vitamins and minerals they need to help keep the body working optimally. Vegetarians and vegans, and people with conditions that make it difficult to absorb nutrients from food, like those with coeliac disease, are particularly at risk. In these cases, supplements can be used to boost vitamin levels. Supplements are also recommended for the general population to ensure nutritional goals are met.

Exercise

If you’re tired, exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but physical activity is actually recommended by the Royal College of Psychiatrists as a great way to combat fatigue [7]. Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins, which make you feel happier, more relaxed, and more positive and energetic. The trick is to find the right balance; enough exercise to be beneficial, but not enough to wear you out. Start with a short walk, and build up the amount of exercise you do gradually over time.

References:

[1] http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/scientific_output/files/main_documents/394e.pdf

[2] http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/consultation/150115.pdf

[3] http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/tiredness-and-fatigue/Pages/tiredness-and-fatigue.aspx

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25010554

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1297139/

[6] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/malnutrition/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[7] http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/tiredness.aspx