Busy routine has brought you down? Try a few things to get your energy back
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Many women from their mid-40s and older experience chronic low energy and fatigue.
Aside from the aging process, the responsibilities at work and home seem to peak around the 40s and 50s. School-aged children and teens need lots of time, as do elderly parents.
Women are also in the most demanding part of their career as they’ve risen through the ranks but maybe not to the level where they have a personal assistant. At home, many women still perform the majority of household care and managing the family’s social life.
“It does get harder with age to have lots of energy,” said Deanna DeSimone, nutritionist with UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Cheektowaga. “You get a cumulative effect with everything that’s going on.”
While usually not immediately life threatening, fatigue can be related to stress, anxiety and depression. DeSimone said that it’s important to speak with a health care provider. That conversation should include discussing medication which can cause fatigue.
Fatigue could signal a medical condition such as anemia, thyroid or autoimmune diseases.
Better self care can help women reclaim their energy levels to better face everyday challenges and feel healthier.
Of course, eating a variety of colorful produce, mostly whole grains, modest portions of healthful fat and sufficient protein is the first step in improving nutrition; however, DeSimone wants more women to stop skipping meals and relying on sugary coffee drinks for a morning boost.
“Nutrition is good for energy levels,” she said. “All you put in your body is what you’ll have to run on. It sustains you.”
Blasting through the mid-afternoon slump with an energy shot, fancy caffeinated drink or candy bar may work short-term, but it’s not healthful.
“Limit the sugar and creamer you put in black tea or coffee,” she said. “Don’t do above two cups per day. Limit the size. If you go to Starbucks and get a latte, that might be not as great of a choice.”
It’s important to remember that a serving of coffee or tea is eight ounces, not the giant cups offered by many restaurants.
Instead, complex carbohydrates like oatmeal with fruit or eating protein and a vegetable, like carrots and hummus, provide a nourishing boost.
In addition, most people need seven to nine hours’ sleep per night, a goal DeSimone said that most women don’t get.
While exercising seems counterintuitive to people who have little energy, its effects include renewed energy. DeSimone said that exercise releases naturally occurring chemicals in the body that help women stay more relaxed and better able to sleep and sleep more deeply.
“Generally, I tell clients to reduce stresses in their life,” DeSimone said. “That can play a role in maintaining weight or losing weight and feeling stressed can be exhausting. If you’re always worrying or on edge, that can reduce energy.”
DeSimone is also a big believer in good sleep hygiene, including eschewing electronics before bedtime. Activities like watching stimulating shows or surfing the internet right before bed can keep the mind busy so the body doesn’t sleep well.
Low thyroid or adrenal issues can cause low energy. Raffaella Marcantonio, naturopathic doctor and co-owner of Natural Health Choices in Kenmore, said that eating seaweed can help improve thyroid function. Taking a B-complex supplement can also help improve energy, focus and concentration.
Over-the-counter supplements ashwaganda and rhodiola can reduce inflammation.
“Both of those have a calming effect. These women can start being irritable,” Marcantonio said. “Other adrenal herbs require a physician who knows what he’s doing, as there may be interactions.”
By calming the body, women can get better sleep and feel more energized.