Ask The Experts: Why do I feel tired and irritable throughout the day?

Pandemic fatigue is real. Here’s how some dietary and lifestyle changes – including adding one key ingredient – can help boost your energy

More Singaporeans are experiencing burnout. Increased stress levels can have a dire impact on one’s health, causing insomnia, lethargy and lack of concentration. PHOTO: PEXELS

Besides lockdowns, social distancing and mask wearing, the ongoing Covid-19 has given rise to yet another phenomenon: pandemic fatigue.

Singaporeans are no strangers to this feeling of exhaustion, according to the Work Trend Index report by Microsoft last year - citing Singapore as the top country in Asia with the highest number of workers facing increased burnout.

Increased stress levels can have a dire impact on one's physical and mental well-being, such as insomnia, lethargy and lack of concentration. Dr Daisuke Takemoto (PhD), product researcher from Suntory Wellness, explains the intrinsic link between stress and energy levels, and shares some helpful dietary and lifestyle tips that can help promote overall wellness.

Q. How does stress affect my energy?

Stress and energy level are like two sides of the same coin: increased stress is strongly associated with fatigue. Stress can also disrupt sleep. When you don't sleep well at night, you would feel more lethargic and even irritable during the day.

Q. What are some lifestyle habits I can adopt for more energy?

Manage your stress: Stress saps your energy. To help relieve stress, do relaxing activities like yoga, consult a mental health professional or join a support group.

Exercise: Apart from promoting sound sleep, regular exercise can stimulate the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. These include endorphins, which help to relieve pain and stress, and serotonin, which helps to boost your mood and overall sense of well-being.

Avoid smoking: Smoking can cause insomnia as nicotine in tobacco is a stimulant. It stimulates brain-wave activity associated with wakefulness, making it harder to fall asleep.

Eat small, frequent meals: Instead of three large meals a day, having small meals and snacks every few hours can reduce your perception of fatigue. Also, avoid eating too much during lunch. Research shows that those who do so usually experience a more pronounced afternoon slump in their circadian rhythms.

Have a balanced diet: For energy throughout the day, consume a mix of energy-giving foods rich in complex carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals, with small amounts of healthy fats.

Q. How can my diet help me achieve more energy?

If you are a coffee drinker, drink wisely. Caffeine perks you up but can cause insomnia when consumed in large amounts or too late in the day. Alcohol should also be drunk prudently; its sedative effect is especially strong at midday and can draw you into an energy slump. Finally, drink water. One of the first symptoms of dehydration is fatigue. Water is important for carrying nutrients to your body's cells, removing waste products and helping you maintain energy.

Q. What foods or supplements should I take?

Low glycemic index foods: These foods are slowly digested and absorbed, thereby resulting in a slower and smaller rise in blood sugar level. They include whole grain and multigrain bread, basmati or brown rice, cruciferous vegetables such as carrots and broccoli, starchy vegetables such as corn and yam, soba and vermicelli noodles, grains such as quinoa and barley, and dairy products.

Sesamin: Found in sesame seeds, sesamin is found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help maintain the body's balance of free radicals. It is readily absorbed by the small intestines to reach the liver, where its antioxidant effects are activated. You can consume sesamin in Suntory Sesamin EX health supplement.

Feeling lethargic during the day? Sesamin EX supports improved sleep quality so you'll wake up every morning feeling more refreshed. PHOTO: BRAND'S SUNTORY ASIA

Q. How is Sesamin EX beneficial to my energy and other aspects of my well-being?

Produced by Suntory Wellness in Japan, Sesamin EX is a supplement that contains an antioxidant formula of sesamin, vitamin E and super vitamin tocotrienol.

Eating sesame seeds alone is not enough. Sesamin makes up less than one per cent of each seed. Sesame seeds are also not easily absorbed by the body. That's why Suntory spent 30 years perfecting a proprietary technology to extract the goodness of sesamin from sesame seeds. In fact, the company received an Achievement in Technological Research award from the Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology and Agrochemistry (JSBBA) for sesamin's practical application as a health food.

Not only does Sesamin EX support improved sleep quality, it also reduces fatigue after eight weeks of regular consumption. In a study by Suntory involving 299 participants aged 40 and above who felt exhausted on a daily basis, consumption of Sesamin EX for eight weeks helped them to fall asleep more easily, sleep more soundly, feel more rested when waking up, and feel less fatigued.

Suntory's research also includes the youthful effects of Sesamin EX. A survey involving 7,310 participants in their 50s to 70s found that 71 per cent who had consumed Sesamin EX for more than one year felt that they looked at least five years younger than their age. 82 per cent felt at least five years younger than their age.

Another aspect is liver health. Research shows that sesamin helps to support liver function and the decomposition of alcohol, thereby helping to ease unpleasant aftereffects of drinking, and maintain blood cholesterol levels.

BRAND'S is an official distributor of Sesamin EX in Singapore. You can purchase Suntory Sesamin EX at BRAND'S official online store,

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