Figs are loaded with iron, which helps stave off anemia and fatigue. And, according to one report, a single serving of this chewy fruit contains more polyphenols (recently linked to longevity) than tea or red wine.
Some research shows that people stay more alert until lunch-time when they eat a high-fiber breakfast cereal (like All-Bran) than when they consume a low-fiber cereal like cornflakes. The likely reason: Fiber slows digestion, which helps you maintain a more consistent energy level.
Don’t disregard the heavy bleeding that often accompanies perimenopause; A heavy flow can substantially lower your iron stores and cause anemia, a serious energy drain. "Have your doctor check your hematocrit [red blood cell count], and if it’s low, your ferritin level to see if you need an iron supplement," says JoAnn Pinkerton, MD, president of the North American Menopause Society. Your physician may suggest trying birth control pills or progesterone therapy to lessen bleeding.
Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D blood level, especially if you aren’t getting daily sun exposure, Pinkerton says. Lack of vitamin D can make you more susceptible to energy-sapping depression; you’re more likely to experience a shortfall as you grow older, when the skin’s ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D slows down. If you’re low, she may recommend taking a vitamin D3 supplement.
Caffeine can give you a buzz, but using it can also bring you down because caffeine withdrawal, and one of its primary symptoms, fatigue, may make this boost backfire. Withdrawal can occur with a caffeine intake as low as 100 milligrams a day (the equivalent of one cup of brewed coffee) and can set in as early as 12 hours after your last cup of joe. "Symptoms increase with the amount of coffee you drink," says Chad Reissig, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Consider progressively easing back on caffeine, slowly switching to decaf or substituting peppermint tea.
Night sweats, midnight awakenings and other sleep disturbances are common in midlife. Keeping a diary (go to and type "sleep diary" into the search box) can help you pinpoint the problems that are keeping you awake.
To get a good night’s rest, consider swapping that cheeseburger for a turkey burger. A study from the Federal University of São Paulo, in Brazil, found that increased fat intake-at any point in the day, but especially at dinner-resulted in less REM (deep) sleep, more sleep apnea and more tossing and turning. And it’s a double whammy: Fat steals sleep, while fatigue makes the body crave it. To break out of the cycle, trim the PM fat from your diet.
It’s easy to want to turn to sweetened foods and drinks, such as soda, for an instant energy surge. The only problem with that is, you’re likely to crash just as fast. Michael F. Jacobson, executive director at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, suggests eliminating all table sugar and packaged foods with sugars from your diet for two weeks. That will help your body process sugar more efficiently when you do start eating it again, and it also may diminish your cravings. After that, aim to eat no more than eight teaspoons of the white stuff a day. You can figure out how many teaspoons are in a serving of a food by looking for the grams of sugar listed under “total carbohydrates” on the nutrition label, then dividing that number by four. The easiest way to cut back is to eliminate sweetened bottled iced tea, juice and, especially, sweetened soda: A single 12-ounce can of cola contains 10 teaspoons. Jacobson recommends switching to plain H2O or, if you like the sparkle, flavored seltzer water.
Iron deficiency can be a surefire energy zapper, but if you’re postmenopausal the opposite issue may be your problem. According to the Nurses' Health Study, almost 10 percent of postmenopausal women have too much iron in their blood, which can also cause fatigue. How do you remedy that? Get rid of the blood. It turns out that the most efficient way to reduce iron is to give blood—often. As the body replenishes iron-containing red blood cells, it borrows iron stored in the tissues. Repeating the process gradually reduces the iron level in the body.
By the time you feel parched, you’ve already lost 1 to 2 percent of your body weight in fluids—enough to increase fatigue and confusion, and spoil your mood, according to recent research. Other signs of dehydration include muscle weakness, headache, dizziness, and lack of perspiration. The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. That may seem like a lot, but food and beverages composed mostly of water—such as milk, juice, coffee, watermelon and tomatoes—also count towards the quota. If you rarely feel thirsty and excrete colorless or pale yellow urine, you’re probably getting enough fluids.