Many adults live in a state of constant fatigue, yawning throughout the day and pleading for bedtime. Not only is living with fatigue unenjoyable, it can also be downright dangerous. According to the Transport Accident Commission (TAO), approximately 20% of fatal automobile accidents involve fatigue, proving that sleep-deprivation can put lives at risk.1
Even more disturbingly, a survey by the American Sleep Foundation found that 60% of adult drivers admitted to driving when fatigued, while 37% admitted to falling asleep while driving!2 With 29% of adults getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night during the work week (much less than the recommended 7-8 hours), these statistics are frightening, but hardly surprising.2
Fatigue is also a major risk factor for workplace accidents, particularly for those who operate heavy machinery or perform complex tasks, such as medical and dental procedures. While a good night’s sleep is the best remedy for fatigue, certain foods and drinks can also assist in keeping the mind and body alert.
Dehydration is a primary culprit behind fatigue. The body needs constant hydration to run properly. A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that even mild dehydration can cause fatigue and a decline in cognitive function.3 So, how much water is enough? According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, adult women should consume approximately 2.8 liters of fluid daily, while men should consume 3.4 liters daily.4 However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s fluid needs are different. For example, regular exercisers will typically need to drink more water than sedentary individuals, as fluids need to be replenished after sweating. If continual fatigue is a problem, try drinking more water.
Dark chocolate is a decadent treat that doubles as an energy booster. Not only is this delicious delight rich in antioxidants, dark chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, stimulants associated with improved cognitive function.5 It’s important to note that not all chocolate is created equal. For maximum health benefits, look for organic dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao.
A healthy trail mix containing nuts and dried fruit can provide a great afternoon pick-me-up. Nuts are a rich source of slowly-digested protein and healthy fat, which encourages long-lasting energy and satiety. While nuts work to provide long-term energy, dried fruit provides ample carbohydrates to raise blood sugar levels quickly and dispense a dose of instant energy, making trail mix a healthy and stimulating snack.
Green tea is an amazing remedy for fatigue. This ancient drink contains a low-dose of caffeine in combination with L-theanine, an amino acid recognised for its anti-anxiety properties.6 Those sensitive to caffeine’s effects may find green tea more tolerable than coffee, as the combination of L-theanine and caffeine is less likely to cause a “buzzed” feeling.
Beans are a “triple-threat” when it comes to energy production. Not only are beans loaded with complex carbohydrates that provide long-lasting energy and keep blood sugar levels stable, they also contain vitamin B1 (thiamin), which helps the body convert food into energy.8 Additionally, beans contain iron, a primary component of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Without proper iron stores, the body cannot produce enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, resulting in iron-deficiency anemia, a common cause of fatigue.9
No list of energy-producing foods and beverages would be complete without coffee. This popular drink not only contains a good dose of caffeine, but is also a great source of antioxidants, magnesium, niacin, manganese, potassium, and vitamins B1 and B5.10 Studies show that coffee consumption can improve memory, mood, energy levels, and overall cognitive function.10 For optimal health and energy-producing benefits, skip the fancy coffeehouse concoctions and drink organic, black coffee whenever possible. If you’re looking for a change, try cold-brewed coffee, which is less-acidic and may be easier on sensitive stomachs.
While many foods and beverages can provide a good jolt on a sleepy afternoon, it’s important to remember that sleep is paramount to a healthy mind and body. Many individuals wrongly believe that sleep is optional, putting it at the bottom of their never-ending “to-do” lists. This places the body at risk, as sleep deficiency is linked to cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and of course,