Written by Jolie Root, LPN, LNC
Jolie is the Senior Nutritionist and Educator for Carlson. She travels throughout North America attending medical conferences, lecturing, and educating about the role of nutrition in integrative medicine.
Table of Contents
Here come the holidays. During this season, I hear a flood of complaints about occasional fatigue from almost everyone I see. I approach fatigue as a battle between the forces that rob us of energy and the tools we need to boost it.
Common Causes of Holiday Fatigue
Let’s start with the villains. Here are the main culprits health-wise that rob us of energy resulting in fatigue. Stress, poor diet (with too much sugar and alcohol), lack of sleep, and being sedentary. The energy heroes that offset these are mindfulness, a wholesome diet, adequate sleep, and daily exercise.
I put stress at the top of the list, since we are talking about the holidays. This is not a happy season for everyone. Some of us are dealing with loss and grief, or loneliness. Many of us are dealing with too many things on our to-do lists and not enough time. Most of us just don’t take the steps necessary to cope with everyday stressors. Dealing with stress means being aware of it and giving ourselves time and space to relieve it. We have to remember to be kind to ourselves. Rest, relaxation, mindfulness, a nourishing diet, and exercise are the best natural stress relievers.
Next up of the energy villains is a poor diet. I define a poor diet as one that is loaded with processed foods and too much added sugar. Alcohol is a sugar, so it fits into this category. Don’t choose unhealthy foods. Don’t overdo sugar, and don’t drink to excess. Instead, eat a mainly plant-based diet that features lots of fruits and veggies, healthy proteins like lean meats and fish, beans and legumes, nuts and whole grains, and healthy cooking oils like olive oil.
Inadequate sleep is another energy robber. We need 7-8 hours of restful sleep. Take care to practice good sleep hygiene, especially during the holidays. Some habits that can improve our sleep health: Be consistent. Our bedroom should be quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom. Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime. And get some exercise.
Lack of exercise is another major cause of fatigue. Some feel that because they're fatigued, they don't have the energy to exercise, but the opposite is true. If we're experiencing fatigue, we should exercise our way out of it 30 minutes a day, five days a week. A brisk walk is perfect but even a relaxed slow walk is better than sitting for most of the wakeful hours. Get up and get moving to build more energy.
Nutrients That Provide an Energy Boost
Finally, there are some nutrients that I see as energy superheroes. These are true blue occasional fatigue fighters, and we want them in our nutritional arsenal. Ribose is available in 5 g packets, perfect for stirring into a glass of water two or three times daily. Ribose is a sugar that helps the cells create ATP, our energy fuel. Ribose is perfect for exercise recovery. MCTs are medium chain triglycerides and are used for quick energy. They are absorbed differently than other fats and offer an alternate fuel for the brain when it feels foggy. Coenzyme Q10 is another ingredient the body uses to form ATP, and its levels decline with age and due to the use of some medications that deplete it. Magnesium belongs on the energy superhero team. It's a spark plug that helps the body activate hundreds of processes including better use of glucose as fuel for the muscles and better production of ATP and brain chemicals that help fuel us and help us feel more alert.
There are a good many natural approaches for relieving occasional fatigue and building energy naturally. In this season and throughout the year, better energy levels are possible if you take advantage of these tips.