The signs may be subtle: You feel exhausted during normal tasks, or you nap more throughout the day. If fatigue becomes extreme, you should see a physician. But unfortunately, fatigue is a normal part of growing older – caused by lower muscle mass, changes in your circadian rhythm and other factors.

Although you can’t prevent fatigue completely, you can combat it with a few techniques. One weapon in the battle is quality nutrition. A few carefully chosen foods can increase your energy level throughout the day. Here are a few of our top picks:

8) Protein

Adding high-protein foods to your diet each day can improve overall health in the long run. Although you may not feel a quick spurt of energy after consuming a protein-rich meal, you experience many long-lasting benefits, including

  • optimal blood sugar levels
  • increased concentration
  • stronger muscles and bones

Instead of consuming protein through red meat, which can be high in cholesterol, we recommend trying chicken or turkey, tuna and hard-boiled eggs.

7) Low-fat dairy

Milk provides more than just strong bones and teeth. Consuming dairy products can supply a quick boost of energy when you need it. Plus, the options are delicious:

  • A tall glass of milk
  • String cheese
  • Cottage cheese

As an added benefit, low-fat dairy products come with plenty of calcium and vitamin D to help improve overall health.

6) Whole grains

There’s an easy way to improve nutrition and boost energy: Swap white bread for whole grains. These healthy foods are chock full of complex carbs (the good kind) that boost metabolism. Simple whole grain options to include in your diet are

  • whole wheat bread
  • whole oats
  • brown rice
5) Cold-water fish

Chances are you know about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, an effective energy booster that also improves memory. Among the best sources of the nutrient are cold-water fish such as

  • salmon
  • trout
  • sardines
  • tuna

Omega-3 supplements can be helpful, if OK’d by your doctor. But keep in mind that your body better processes nutrients from food than tablets.

4) Fruits/vegetables

Any list related to good nutrition has to include fruits and veggies – the backbone of a healthy diet. Providing an energy boost is just one of their benefits, along with containing a host of nutrients and fiber.

Fruits and veggies provide a type of natural sugar that jump-starts your energy and stabilizes blood sugar levels throughout the day. You can’t go wrong with any fruit or vegetable you choose, as long as you regularly include them in meals.

3) Nuts

If you’re looking for a high-energy snack option, your best bet may not be a granola bar. Instead, try consuming nuts – complete with protein, fiber, omega-3, vitamin B and vitamin E. Even better for increasing energy, nuts also contain potassium.

There are a ton of varieties to choose from, but our top picks consist of

  • almonds
  • cashews
  • pistachios
  • peanuts
2) Dark chocolate

Can dessert really be good for you? In the case of dark chocolate, it is. This food contains caffeine that provides a spurt of energy when you need it, without the sugar and negative effects of sodas or energy drinks.

In addition to energy, eating dark chocolate improves your mood. Just keep in mind that chocolate needs to be more than 70 percent cocoa solids to provide significant health benefits.

1) Water

Feeling tired is often the result of dehydration. To maintain ideal energy levels, make sure you are consuming enough water. Taking in plenty of fluid is especially important as you age, reducing the risk of blood clots and heart disease.

If drinking plain water from a glass does not appeal to you, try drinking tea or 100 percent fruit juice and consuming extra fruits and vegetables, which contain high levels of water.

If you are having trouble consuming enough water or preparing healthy meals, it may be time to start a conversation about assisted living. At The Villas of Jackson, we provide all the tools you need to stay energetic. From three daily meals to flavored water available 24 hours a day, we help residents fight fatigue so they can maintain their social calendar. Visit us to see everything we offer.