5 ways women can boost their energy levels,
as they approach mid-life...
“I’m just so tired” is probably the most common sentence women in their 40s and beyond say to me on a regular basis. They’ve often had their tiredness dismissed as just ‘the way life is’ or put down to working, motherhood or just age.
Ongoing fatigue and tiredness is not in fact just a symptom of getting older or working too hard. Fatigue and tiredness are clear signals from your body that it needs some help - this could be hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiencies like low vitamin B, gut issues or as a result of chronic stress.
SUPPORTING YOUR GUT
Good gut health is the foundation of good health. When our digestive system is sluggish we will feel sluggish too. The way we eat plays a huge role in our ability to get the nutrients we need from our food. Getting back to basics by chewing your food and eating mindfully - appreciating texture, flavour and eating slowly - can help you to get the benefit of nutrient rich meals while also supporting good digestion.
Many women have been on restrictive diets, watching or counting calories for over 20 years by the time they reach middle age. However, there is a huge difference between watching calories and eating for increased energy. Most people don’t eat enough protein, protein is essential for staving off fatigue, especially early in the day when your stress hormone levels are high. Starting the day with a protein rich breakfast can help you to get the energy you need.
GET THE NUTRIENTS YOU NEED
Certain nutrients including B Vitamins, and iron are crucial to energy production. B vitamins help create energy in cells and convert food into fuel. SAs our body cannot store B vitamins it is important that we consume them each day. Spinach, beans, legumes, whole grain bread, eggs, milk, green vegetables are all good sources of B vitamins.
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency. This is due to less oxygen reaching body tissues, depriving them of energy. While we may know of the need for increasing our iron in pregnancy, few talk about the need for adequate iron in perimenopause and thyroid function.
Perimenopause is accompanied by changes in our menstrual cycle, this can result in more frequent or heavier periods. As many perimenopausal and menopausal women choose a lower calorie dense diet with less red meat to combat l weight gain, they are typically not getting sufficient iron in their diets and may benefit from an iron supplement to improve their energy levels.
PREPARE FOR HORMONAL CHANGES
As early as our mid 30s our hormones begin to change, preparing for perimenopause and menopause. With these hormonal changes comes a dip in energy, libido and sleep quality.
PMS, a very overlooked sign of hormonal imbalance, also robs your body of energy. To reduce the tiredness and fatigue that comes with PMS, increase your fruit and veg intake, eat more fibre and complex carbs, reduce or avoid salt and caffeine, and move more. Yoga, pilates and resistance band workouts are great ways to increase energy and muscle mass and increase bone mass.
Acute and chronic fatigue is also associated with thyroid hormone issues. Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid is the most common and can cause nightmares, anxiety, mood swings, weight gain, impaired concentration and severe fatigue. This can be tested in a routine GP blood test with more detailed tests hormonal and antibody tests available through specialist labs.
STRESS & SLEEP MANAGEMENT
Chronic stress and poor quality sleep mean that your body just isn’t recharging the way it would like to and is a common cause of tiredness and fatigue in middle age. Over 50% of Women over 40 reported getting less than 7 hours sleep. Creating a bedtime routine with less blue light exposure and more relaxation time is proven to increase sleep and sleep quality. Similarly putting in place a tool kit and setting aside time to help you de-stress is crucial to your health and energy levels.