Self-help tips to fight fatigue

Self-help tips to fight fatiguee
Self-help tips to fight fatigue
Many cases of unexplained tiredness are due to stress, not enough sleep, poor diet and other lifestyle factors. Use these self-help tips to restore your energy levels.

Eat often to beat tiredness

A good way to keep up your energy through the day is to eat regular meals and healthy snacks every three to four hours, rather than a large meal less often.

Read more about healthy eating.

Perk up with exercise

You might feel too tired to exercise, but regular exercise will make you feel less tired in the long run, and you’ll have more energy. Even a single 15-minute walk can give you an energy boost, and the benefits increase with more frequent physical activity.

Start with a small amount of exercise. Build up your physical activity gradually over weeks and months until you reach the recommended goal of two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.

Read more about starting exercise.

Find out the physical activity guidelines for adults.

Lose weight to gain energy

If your body is carrying excess weight, it can be exhausting. It also puts extra strain on your heart, which can make you tired. Lose weight and you’ll feel much more energetic. Apart from eating healthily, the best way to lose weight is to be more active and do more exercise.

Read more about how to lose weight.

Sleep well

It sounds obvious, but two-thirds of us suffer from sleep problems, and many people don’t get the sleep they need to stay alert through the day. The Royal College of Psychiatrists advises going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time every day; avoid naps through the day, and have a hot bath before bed (as hot as you can bear without scalding you) for at least 20 minutes.

Read more about how to get a good night’s sleep.

Try these NHS-approved sleep apps to help you sleep well.

Reduce stress to boost energy

Stress uses up a lot of energy. Try to introduce relaxing activities into your day. This could be working out at the gym, or a gentler option, such as listening to music, reading or spending time with friends. Whatever relaxes you will improve your energy.

Read more about how to relieve stress.

Talking therapy beats fatigue

There’s some evidence that talking therapies such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) might help to fight fatigue. See your GP for a referral for talking treatment on the NHS or for advice on seeing a private therapist.

Read more about counselling.

Cut out caffeine

The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends that anyone feeling tired should cut out caffeine. It says the best way to do this is to gradually stop having all caffeine drinks (this includes coffee, tea and cola drinks) over a three-week period. Try to stay off caffeine completely for a month to see if you feel less tired without it.

You may find that not consuming caffeine gives you headaches. If this happens, cut down more slowly on the amount of caffeine that you drink.

Drink less alcohol

Although a few glasses of wine in the evening helps you fall asleep, you sleep less deeply after drinking alcohol. The next day you’ll be tired, even if you sleep a full eight hours.

Cut down on alcohol before bedtime. You’ll get a better night’s rest and have more energy. The NHS recommends that men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units a week, which is equivalent to six pints of average strength beer or 10 small glasses of low strength wine.

Read more about how to cut down on alcohol.

Drink more water for better energy

Sometimes you feel tired simply because you’re mildly dehydrated. A glass of water will do the trick, especially after exercise.

Read about healthy drinks.

How coffee might improve sports performance. Find out more here!

Sports Performance and Coffee
Sports Performance and Coffee
From enhancing endurance to aiding quick recovery, caffeine can play a role in improving sports performance, as explained by experts in the field of sports science and nutrition during a roundtable on coffee, caffeine and sports performance held by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee.

Professor Greg Whyte OBE, a former Olympian and Professor in Applied Sport & Exercise Science at Liverpool John Moores University, UK, Dr Javier Gonzalez, a lecturer in Human and Applied Physiology at the University of Bath, UK, and Dr Sophie Killer, a performance nutritionist at British Athletics came together to present a wide variety of research which covered all aspects of coffee, caffeine and sports performance from fluid balance and intake levels, to what is currently understood about caffeine’s mechanisms.

Key highlights from the roundtable include:

• Caffeine is most effective during endurance sports (e.g. running, cycling, rowing) lasting more than five minutes
• Caffeine can improve short term high-intensity performance
• Caffeine has been shown to reduce muscle pain during endurance exercise, reduce muscle soreness after strength exercises, and assist in the recovery process
• Coffee can contribute to fluid balance and the suggestion that caffeinated beverages should be avoid prior to and during exercise is unfounded

Professor Greg Whyte commented: “Caffeine has the potential to improve sports performance across the board from marathon runners to Saturday sports teams. Both elite and recreational athletes are physiologically similar meaning relatively low doses can have an effect, including improved endurance and high-intensity performance, and muscle pain relief.”

It is widely accepted that any effect of coffee consumption on sports performance is linked to the caffeine in coffee. Although caffeine has been suggested to cause dehydration, research has concluded that moderate consumption of 3-5 cups of caffeinated coffee per day contributes to overall fluid balance and does not cause dehydration.

Research into caffeine’s mechanisms has shown that endurance performance is improved through its role as an adenosine antagonist, leading to an increased production of adrenaline, which stimulates blood flow and increases a feeling of being energised. Caffeine may also reduce the perception of pain, through a role in the central nervous system, further enhancing endurance during sporting activities.

Anxiety and Coffee – is there a relationship?

Coffee and Anxiety
Coffee and Anxiety
A very old friend of mine from university had to give up coffee when he was in his mid twenties. Much to his disgust, I might add, as he loved the stuff.

The reason he explained to me over a cup of green tea that a couple of cups of coffee would first make him anxious , then bad tempered and finally what he called a “brown study”. Nothing to worry about (he did mention it to his doctor at his next wish and was told that he was indeed correct).

The conversation came back to me this afternoon as I read a very interesting report from the The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee on the relationship between coffee and anxiety. They define anxiety as “a feeling of nervousness, dread, apprehension, and worry. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating and considered a disorder”.

They say “… the body of scientific evidence to date suggests that caffeine may be associated with an increase in anxiety at moderate levels of intake (150mg caffeine – approximately two cups of coffee) in individuals who are predisposed to this effect, and that symptoms of anxiety are less likely to be seen at lower levels of caffeine intake. It is thought that the adenosine receptor system, which mediates the psychoactive effects of caffeine, is involved in the regulation of anxiety, although the precise mechanism is unknown at present”

In the report they point out that “caffeine seems to have no effect on anxiety in some individuals whilst in others, particularly at moderate (150mg caffeine) levels of intake, caffeine may increase anxiety” and “in high and low anxiety sensitive individuals, similar alertness and symptom reports were shown following caffeine ingestion. Respiratory symptoms were more marked when caffeine was expected and administered in the low anxiety sensitive group and when caffeine was unexpectedly administered in the high anxiety sensitive group”

They conclude “research suggests that there may be a genetic component to this sensitivity, explaining why only some individuals appear to experience an effect, however further research is required to confirm these effects.3 It is worth noting that with frequent consumption, substantial tolerance develops to the anxiety-inducing effect of caffeine, even in genetically susceptible individuals, and therefore the association does not tend to affect levels of coffee consumption”.

Which all seems pretty reasonable to me. What do you think? What impact does coffee have upon you? Please share in the comments section below.

Thanks in advance.

World Diabetes Day – Coffee may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes say scientists #wdd

Coffee and diabetes
Coffee and diabetes
Okay may I put my hand up and confess I love coffee so I’m always happy to repeat what I see as good news.

Indeed I covered various health benefits of coffee and caffeine in the past.

Given that today is World Diabetes Day I should not have been too surprised that I would get press releases telling me useful things about diabetes that I really did not want to know.

However I am delighted to share an exception with you my readers.

The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee informs me that moderate consumption of coffee may decrease an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Indeed drinking three to four cups will reduce the risk by 25%.

They have just published a report which suggest that decaffeinated coffee provided better protection than its colleague with caffeine. Filtered is better for diabetes than boiled. So it is something else in the coffee which helps rather than caffeine.

Which leads me to the conclusion that I should drop round and visit the espresso machine in the kitchen!

Body of research supports the role of coffee consumption in mental performance

Is coffee good for you?
Is coffee good for you?
New Research supports the positive effect of caffeinated coffee on mental performance. This suggests that a relationship has been established between a 75mg serving of caffeine (the amount in approximately one regular cup of coffee) and both increased attention and alertness, mainly in situations of lethargy 1.

Recent studies have also shown that drinking caffeinated coffee can help improve alertness. For example , drinking coffee can improve alertness and concentration during long distance driving 2.

Furthermore, brain mapping technology indicates that caffeine is not linked to dependence. This is supported by the fact that individuals do not develop a tolerance to the stimulant effects of caffeine 4. In fact, American Psychological Association also does not recognize caffeine as being an addictive substance 5.

Most people will consume a level of caffeine they are comfortable with, however, for some people a high level of caffeine may lead to hyperactivity or anxiety. These effects are usually short lived once the individual returns to his/her regular pattern of consumption.

Researcher Dr. Sophie Killer commented: “We found that consumption of a moderate intake of coffee – four cups per day, in regular coffee drinking males, caused no significant differences across a wide range of hydration indicators compared to the consumption of equal amounts of water. We conclude that advice provided in the public health domain, regarding coffee and dehydration, should be updated to reflect these findings.”

Current scientific evidence indicates that moderate coffee consumption (typically 3-5 cups per day) fits well with a healthy balanced diet and active lifestyle and may possibly be linked to a range of beneficial effects on health.

1. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). (2011) Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to caffeine and increased fat oxidation leading to a reduction in body fat mass (ID 735, 1484), increased energy expenditure leading to a reduction in body weight (ID 1487), increased alertness (ID 736, 1101, 1187, 1485, 1491, 2063, 2013) and increased attention (ID 736, 1485, 1491, 2375) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/20061. EFSA Journal,9(4):2054.
2. Sharwood L.N. et al. (2013) Use of caffeinated substances and risk of crashes in long distance drivers of commercial vehicles: case control study. BMJ, 346:f1140.
3. Smith A.P. (2005) Caffeine at work. Hum Psychopharmacol, 20:441-5.
4. Nehlig A. et al. (2010) SPECT assessment of brain activation induced by caffeine: no effect on areas involved in dependence. Dialogues Clin Neurosci, 12:255-6363.
5. American Psychiatric Association (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM V) ISBN 978-0-89042-554-1DSMV.