5 Foods & Snacks to Fight Fatigue
Many women dealing with the hormonal fluxes of peri/menopause are also dealing with fatigue —an ever-present feeling of disabling weariness and exhaustion. Peri/menopausal fatigue can be due to the energy expended while dealing with related symptoms, or even exist as a standalone symptom all its own. In fact, one cross-sectional survey of 300 women found that 46.5% of women in perimenopause and 85.3% of women in menopause reported feelings of fatigue.
Combatting fatigue generally requires a multi-pronged, holistic approach, one that involves lifestyle changes addressing problems like high stress, sleep disturbances, and medical issues. But as with so many health concerns, what we eat can have a huge impact on our fatigue, either positively or negatively. A diet full of wholesome and minimally processed foods is a source for long-lasting and crash-proof energy levels, while eating an excess of simple sugars, unhealthy fats, alcohol, and caffeine can leave you feeling sluggish and irritable. Fortunately, eating to support energy levels can be both easy and enjoyable. Try incorporating these five foods to fuel your body and mind, while limiting those that leave you feeling sluggish.
The humble egg is a nutritional powerhouse with an impressive lineup of vitamins and minerals including vitamin D, folate, B vitamins, iron, and selenium — and not getting enough of these vitamins and minerals is known to cause fatigue. Eggs are also rich in protein and essential amino acids like leucine which the body needs to convert energy for use. Additionally, eggs are a great source of healthy fats. The body needs these fats to support cell growth, absorb nutrients, and maintain high energy level.
However, eggs aren’t a great meal staple for everyone; people with egg intolerance may actually feel fatigue after eating eggs, as it’s a symptom of the disorder. So if you find yourself feeling run down after eating eggs, consider an elimination diet in order to figure out if they are the culprit.
They may be small, but almonds pack a big nutritional punch. They are rich in nutrients known to help stabilize blood sugar and energy levels, including fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Almonds are also a great source of magnesium, an essential mineral for energy production. And one study found that regular consumption of almonds had a positive impact energy regulation and recovery in the body.
A hearty bowl of oatmeal in the morning provides slow-burning steady energy throughout the day. Oats are a high-fiber source of complex carbohydrates that are more slowly digested, providing a steady increase in blood sugar levels rather than the large spike and dip that occurs when the body digests simple carbs. The prebiotic fiber in oats is also great for gut health. An imbalanced gut has a direct effect on the nervous system and negatively impacts energy levels. Oats are also a natural source of the essential amino acid tryptophan. You may recognize tryptophan as the thing that makes you sleepy after eating Thanksgiving turkey, so it seems counterintuitive to eat it for energy. But tryptophan is also necessary for boosting serotonin levels, which helps combat chronic fatigue.
4. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are nutrient-dense, as well as easy to digest for the body’s use of nutrients, so you get a higher net energy gain. In other words, when you eat greens your body gets an abundance of energy-providing nutrients without having to work very hard to get them. And dark leafy greens are also rich in vitamin C which helps iron absorption to prevent anemia-related fatigue. To get the most out of this, cook your greens in a cast iron skillet, which can increase the iron content by as much as 16%.
Salmon is particularly good for fatigue because of its rich polyunsaturated fat contents. In one study evaluating people with chronic fatigue syndrome, it was found that two of the omega 3s found in salmon improved bodily processes necessary for immune function and energy levels in those with the disorder. Another study found that increased consumption of fish like salmon improves cognitive function and sleep in children— key for folks struggling with peri/menopause fatigue, as cognitive function and sleep quality significantly impact fatigue levels. Finally, salmon is rich in the entire B vitamins group which work to turn consumed food into energy.
The hormonal changes and symptoms that come with perimenopause and menopause can leave you feeling listless. But a healthy, well-rounded diet with plenty of whole foods supports your body’s ability to perform at its highest. While incorporating healthy foods like the ones in this list will create a solid nutritional foundation for energy production, it’s also important to avoid foods that will leave you feeling lethargic such as simple sugars and highly processed foods. You’ll really feel the difference as you transition to a consistent diet filled with whole, low-processed foods and plenty of hydration.