4 foods to keep you alert during the day

14 April, 2023 / words by IALH Editorial Team

Written by Tai Ibitoye

Image via Pinterest

1) Low GI carbohydrate breakfast options

Porridge, muesli or higher breakfast cereals like Bran Flakes or Weetabix

Starchy foods are a great source of energy and provide a range of nutrients. It is important to opt for low glycaemic (GI) varieties like porridge, Bran Flakes, Weetabix, wholemeal or grainy bread, wholemeal rice and/or pasta and lentils. Low GI carbohydrates are slowly digested and will make your blood glucose (sugar) rise more slowly. They slowly release energy helping to keep your energy levels stable
and alert. High GI foods like sugary breakfast cereals or white bread cause cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. Most people may experience a quick burst of energy when eating higher GI carbohydrates, however, this energy is usually short-lived and some people may notice that a slump happens afterwards and their hunger returns too.

2) Iron-rich foods

Not getting enough iron in the diet can lead to low levels of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood, which can lead to iron deficiency anaemia (IDA). Some individuals may feel weak, tired, lethargic and lack concentration as a result. Therefore, finding ways to increase iron intake is important. There are two types of iron:

1) haem-iron, which is animal-based source of iron like red meat, fish, eggs and chicken. Haem-iron is the well-absorbed form of iron. However, UK public health guidance recommends that we reduce our intake of red meat and should not exceed about 70g daily.

2) non-haem iron plant-based sources of iron (e.g. pulses, legumes, dark green vegetables like spinach and nuts, seeds). Eating plant-based non-haem iron with animal protein foods and foods containing vitamin C (e.g. oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers) can help your body absorb the iron.

3) B vitamin foods

There are different types of B vitamins and they all have different functions within the body. B vitamins like thiamine B, Niacin B3 and Cobalamin B12 helps break down energy from food. People are deficiency may experience tiredness or feel that they are not as alert.

Consuming foods that contain B vitamins may help to improve alertness. Some food sources include dairy products or fortified plant-based alternatives like soya yoghurt, fortified breakfast cereals, fish, eggs, yeast extracts.

4) Take vitamin D supplements and eat foods containing vitamin D

Sunshine, not food, is where most of our vitamin D comes from. Even, with a well-balanced diet, that provides all other vitamins and goodness you need. It is unlikely to provide enough vitamin D (especially if you live in the UK…where the sun seems to be MIA!). Low vitamin D levels has been associated with brain fog, fatigue and poor concentration levels (as well as bone pain and weakness). There are only a limited amount of foods that contain vitamin D such as oily fish (e.g mackerel, salmon, pilchards, sardines and herring), egg yolk, fortified breakfast cereals, liver and cod liver oil (liver and cod liver oil should not be taken if you’re pregnant).

The government recommends that we should be taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter. However, for those with dark skin – for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background and those who usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors, should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D all year round.


IALH Editorial Team


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