Fatigue is a common experience, especially among older adults. Today we'll have a look at why that is, and why beating fatigue can help support healthy bones.
You'll learn about eight bone-building foods that increase energy so that you can remain active and feel your best. These foods are also bone-healthy ingredients to include in your meals, and many of them make excellent energy-boosting snacks.
Fatigue In Older Adults
Fatigue is a feeling of extreme tiredness, often paired with a sense of physical weakness. It can manifest as sleepiness or a loss of motivation. Common signs of fatigue in older adults include:1
- Sleeping an excessive amount
- Frequent napping
- Muscle weakness
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Weight loss
Fatigue isn't unique to older people, and it isn't inevitable. However, many conditions that grow more common with age can cause or contribute to fatigue. Common causes of fatigue include:
- Chronic pain
- Hormonal changes
- Sleeping problems
- Medical treatments (prescription drugs, chemotherapy, etc.)
- Stress and grief
- Loss of agency or independence
You may notice that some of these causes are physical, such as chronic pain, and others are mental or emotional. This is an excellent example of how our mental and emotional health can physically affect us.
Fatigue is common among older adults and manifests in a number of ways, including excessive sleep, anxiety, memory problems, and weight loss. Common causes include chronic pain, sleeping problems, stress, grief, and certain medical treatments.
Ways To Reduce Fatigue
Fortunately, there are many strategies you can use to reduce fatigue. Try keeping a log of your energy level over the course of the day, and make note of which of these strategies you're using. That way, you can pinpoint when you're feeling tired and what works best for you.
And of course, because all of these interventions are drug-free, you can try them at the same time in any combination.
- Regular sleep/wake schedule – Develop a bedtime ritual that gets you to sleep at the same time every night. Set your alarm clock for the same time each morning and stick with it. Improving your quality of sleep also benefits your bones, since sleep facilitates healthy bone remodeling.
- Avoid excessive use of caffeine – Caffeine can disrupt your sleep patterns. Especially avoid it in the latter half of the day, when it's most likely to affect your sleep.
- Exercise – Physically activity can actually help you feel less tired. Make physical activity part of your schedule every day. Regular weight-bearing exercise is also an essential habit for building stronger bones.
- Avoid long naps – Taking long naps can result in poor sleep when bedtime rolls around. If you need a nap, set an alarm and keep it short. That way you will still be ready to sleep at night.
- Avoid Overwhelm – If your schedule is packed so tightly that even thinking about it leaves you exhausted, then you might need to lighten your load. Ask for help, and consider what obligations or activities you could give up.
- Diet – Our energy comes from food. What we eat plays an important role in how we feel and how much energy we have each day. Avoid processed foods, and choose a wide variety of healthy whole ingredients to comprise your meals. The Osteoporosis Reversal Program‘s 80/20 pH-balanced diet is a great way to ensure your diet is providing adequate energy.
You can reduce fatigue by setting a regular bedtime and wake-up time, avoiding caffeine, exercising, avoiding long naps, avoiding overwhelm, and eating a healthy diet.
8 Foods To Increase Energy
Don't be fooled by processed food products claiming to boost your energy. Candy bars and energy drinks give quick-fix bursts of energy that will only exacerbate your fatigue.
Instead, choose healthy, bone-building foods that provide natural and lasting energy. The following foods are each excellent sources you can include in your meals or as a go-to pick-me-up snack.
- Bananas* (alkalizing) – Bananas are a classic snack among athletes. Studies have found they provide as much energy as processed sports drinks, but unlike those sugary products, bananas provide fiber, potassium, antioxidants, and energizing Vitamin B6.2
- Sweet potatoes* (alkalizing) – These tasty tubers provide complex carbohydrates and fiber that slow digestion to make energy last longer. Plus they're a robust source of energy-boosting B vitamins.
- Leafy greens* (alkalizing) – Kale, arugula, spinach, and other leafy greens contain B vitamins, iron, and magnesium alongside other bone-building micronutrients like Vitamin K.
- Oats* (acidifying) – Oats stabilize blood sugar levels while providing slow-digesting fiber and complex carbohydrates. They also offer B vitamins, iron, and manganese– all of which the body uses to generate energy.
- Fatty fish* (acidifying) – From salmon to sardines, fatty fish provide an energy-boosting combo of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Eggs* (acidifying) – Eggs offer a high-powered combination of healthy fats and protein. There's a reason they're such a classic breakfast food– they're an excellent source of energy.
- Nuts* (acidifying except for almonds) – From walnuts, to pecans, to cashews— nuts make for a healthy and ready-to-eat snack to boost your energy levels between meals. They provide healthy fats, protein, fiber, and B vitamins.
- Dark chocolate* (acidifying) – Studies show that eating about 1.5 oz of dark chocolate each day reduced participants' fatigue. Dark chocolate contains compounds that boost both your energy and your bone health, including calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and antioxidant flavonoids.
You'll notice that all of these are Foundation Foods and that some of them are acidifying. Remember to balance the foods you eat using the 80/20 alkalizing to acidifying ratio to ensure you're maintaining a bone-healthy pH balance.
Try incorporating these eight energy-boosting foods into your diet: sweet potatoes, leafy greens, oats, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, and dark chocolate. Not only are they great foods for fighting fatigue, but they're also effective components of a bone-building diet.
What This Means To You
Fatigue can undermine your ability to build stronger bones by discouraging regular exercise, preventing quality sleep, and harming your mental and emotional health. Take measures to fight fatigue, including regular exercise and the energy-boosting foods we reviewed.
You can ensure your meals are full of energy-providing whole ingredients by using the Save Institute's cookbook and meal planner, Bone Appétit. Bone Appétit contains more than 300 recipes designed to make cooking easy, fun, and delicious– all while improving your bone health.
Every great journey happens one step at a time. Decide on the step you'll take today to increase your energy levels. Tomorrow, you'll be able to use that energy to improve the quality of your life.