The Health Advocate

by Hannah Whittenly, The Health Advocate

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It's just after lunch and you're nodding off at your desk again, but you're not alone. Daytime sleepiness is a problem that many people face. Although it's often treated as just part of life, fatigue during the day is anything but normal. What's more, your diet could be the culprit. Read on to learn about four dietary changes that can help fight your urge to nap.

Ditch the Dairy

You probably remember drinking a glass of milk before bed as a child to help lull you to sleep. Given milk's sleep-inducing qualities, it's no wonder that having a glass of the white stuff or a bowl of ice cream with lunch can leave you snoozing your afternoon away. Cutting down on dairy can actually go a long way in combatting excessive daytime sleepiness. While cheese and yogurt can be part of healthy snacks, keep the dairy to a minimum during the day, especially while combatting the urge to nap.

Trade Your Turkey Sandwich
You may already know that Thanksgiving turkey leaves you yawning due to its abundance of an amino acid called tryptophan. However, did you know that the same principle applies to the turkey in your lunchtime sandwich or even the turkey bacon you had for breakfast? Fighting afternoon fatigue may be as simple as trading your turkey sub for less tryptophan-heavy meats, or better yet, a healthy helping of fruits and vegetables.

Veg Out

Daytime sleepiness is often caused by micronutrient deficiency, and the richest sources of these micronutrients are fruits, vegetables and legumes. Incorporating more of these nutritious foods into your diet can increase your levels of fatigue-fighting nutrients like B vitamins, magnesium and folate. The proteins in vegetables also go a long way towards cleaning out your arteries, and the natural fiber acts as food for the healthy bacteria in your gut. All of these are important for helping keep your energy high. Not sure how to get your five a day? Try some of these easy and healthy recipes from DESI~LICIOUS RD INC, which are packed with vegetables and legumes.

Get a Load of Leafy Greens

One specific nutrient deficiency that causes extreme fatigue along with weakness, pale skin and headaches is iron deficiency anemia. Lack of iron depletes the ability of your body's red blood cells to carry oxygen. One excellent source of iron is leafy green vegetables. If you're experiencing the symptoms of anemia, consider adding more leafy greens like kale, spinach and collards to your diet. Iron is also better absorbed when accompanied by vitamin c, so a fruity spinach salad could go a long way to helping you get better iron absorption. Of course, if you’re severely deficient, you’ll also want to speak with a doctor about incorporating supplements into your diet on a short-term basis to bring your iron levels back up.
Although diet is a common cause of daytime sleepiness, it's important to see your doctor if making changes to your eating pattern doesn't resolve your fatigue. There are other possible causes like thyroid disorders and diabetes that shouldn't be ignored. If your daytime fatigue persists, gets worse or is accompanied by other symptoms, make an appointment and get checked out.

@ 2:59pm ET on December 22, 2019
Thanks, I'll be sure to eat more vegs as I can't be dozing off after lunch in my line of work. I work in the carpet cleaning industry.
Dave @ carpet cleaning battle creek mi

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