Superfoods, or whole foods, can help give you back the energy you’ve been missing. Chances are, you’re one of the many victims of the afternoon slump. If you find yourself struggling to make it through the day, your diet might be to blame. While sugar and caffeine often give you a quick energy boost, they also cause you to crash just a few hours later. If you’re relying on coffee and energy drinks to perk you up, you’re actually doing more harm than good. There are two ways in which you can help remedy this issue. The first is to stay properly hydrated with plenty of water. The other is to incorporate the right kinds of foods into your diet.
Believe it or not, sometimes all you need is a glass of water to perk you up. If you don’t have access to fresh spring water, then use the best bottled water you can find, and add a pinch of sea salt. The minerals in the sea salt help your body absorb the water. Drinking water throughout the day — between meals, not with them — may keep dehydration from causing fatigue in the afternoon.
Hint: add the minerals yourself. Often, enhanced waters from the store have more than just added vitamins or minerals — they have added sugar, which may keep you on that blood sugar roller coaster ride.
Then to help your body fight stress and fatigue the right way, add a few whole, plant-based foods to your diet. Whole foods provide your body with a steady stream of natural energy, eliminating that afternoon slump once and for all.
Here are 8 power-packed whole foods that can help you fight fatigue:
Spirulina contains an astounding array of nutrients, including chlorophyll, protein, and antioxidants. In fact, spirulina is higher in protein and amino acids than any other plant source, containing all 8 essential amino acids. While it matches red meat as a source of iron, spirulina also contains B vitamins and magnesium, all of which are so important to maintaining your body’s energy levels. Spirulina is high in antioxidants which helps the body fight stress, too. Start with 3-5 grams per day Make sure you’re buying quality spirulina from a trusted brand.
2. Reishi Mushroom
The list of healthy plant-based whole foods continues with the reishi mushroom. If you can’t make any other changes in your life, at least add Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) to your day. Revered in Asia for at least 2,000 years, current research supports its value as an adaptogen, a tonic herb that improves immune function. Where is your fatigue coming from? Stress? Poor sleep? A compromised immune system can be behind all of it. If your body is busy fighting viruses and bacteria and toxins, you just don’t have the energy you need to function. Reishi is celebrated for boosting immunity and calming stress. And you have so many ways to enjoy it! Find reishi in all its wonderful forms: reishi mushroom powder or capsules, mycelium powder, tinctures, or simply as a delicious tea.
3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are small but mighty. They’re packed with iron, magnesium, and amino acids to help give you energy. They also contain B vitamins and calcium, which help to fight stress that can cause fatigue. Add them to your oatmeal, yogurt or smoothie, or make coconut chia seed pudding for an energizing breakfast!
Coconut is rich healthy fats known as medium chain triglycerides, which help boost your physical and mental energy levels. Furthermore, coconut contains B vitamins, amino acids, magnesium, and potassium to keep you energized. That’s all found in the coconut meat. But we can also drink the coconut water. What do energy drinks always claim? That they have electrolytes. Well, coconut water is the number one electrolyte there is! Add coconut meat, coconut butter, or coconut oil to your smoothie, oatmeal, or any other dish, and drink coconut water with your juices and smoothies.
Cacao is packed with iron, vitamins, protein, fiber, and zinc. It’s also one of the highest sources of magnesium in the world. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals to help support your body’s energy levels. It activates your metabolism, fights stress, and even helps reduce sugar cravings and mood swings. But that zing you feel isn’t caffeine. Raw cacao has a compound called theobromine that can dilate blood vessels while relaxing bronchi muscles in the lungs (a bonus for asthma sufferers). Purchase raw cacao at your local health food store or online. Add a raw cacao smoothie, energy bar, or pudding to your daily diet.
6. Pumpkin Seeds
Also on the list of powerful whole foods is pumpkins seeds. Eating a handful of pumpkin seeds for a snack can help you fight afternoon fatigue. Pumpkin seeds are full of zinc and iron, along with the amino acid tryptophan, which helps the body fight stress. As a bonus, they have anti-inflammatory properties! Carry some around for a snack or add them to your meals for a boost.
Maca is a golden-yellow powder, depending on the variety, that is believed to be one of the best foods to support energy levels. It’s a root vegetable native to Peru that helps improve your hormonal functions, allowing your body to better deal with different forms of stress. Add a tablespoon of maca to your smoothies or oatmeal or make maca energy bars at home.
Spinach contains magnesium, iron, B vitamins, and protein. It also provides your body with a large dose of Vitamin C to help with iron absorption. The high levels of chlorophyll in spinach help fight off inflammation that can lead to fatigue. Chlorophyll is Nature’s great detoxifier. Some fatigue may be caused by a buildup of toxins. Eating spinach frequently can help reduce the toxic burden on your cells, giving you more natural energy. Use spinach in salads, sandwiches, smoothies soups, sauces, or wraps!
David Wolfe. Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future (2009).
David Wolfe. Longevity Now: A Comprehensive Approach to Healthy Hormones, Detoxification, Super Immunity, Reversing Calcification, and Total Rejuvenation (2013).
One Green Planet
The World’s Healthiest Foods