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Amazing Benefits Of Spinach (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Amazing Benefits Of Spinach (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Spinach had a long way to go before it got into Pop-Eye’s can… It was cultivated as far back as ancient Persia and by the 12th century, mothers all over Europe were telling their children to “eat your spinach”!  Spinach is in the goosefoot family, making it a relative of other healthy edibles like beets, chard and quinoa. And it’s not only delicious, it is incredibly good for you.  Read on to find out more about the benefits of spinach.

Spinach Treats Anemia

Spinach is an incredibly iron-rich food, one serving clocking in at 21% of the recommended daily allowance.  It is actually one of the best plant-based source of this mineral that you can eat. This makes it a great choice for those who suffer from iron-deficiency anemia.

Without enough iron in the body, it is impossible to make enough red blood cells which take oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body. People who have this condition can suffer from severe fatigue even when they are getting adequate rest.  An diet which includes spinach can help to bring back iron up to healthy levels.

Spinach Makes Your Bones Stronger

Calcium, like iron, is an important mineral. The body needs it to keep bones and teeth healthy and strong. If you are a woman, you have probably been told that eating/drinking a lot of dairy products is important for you so that you get enough calcium to keep your bones from becoming weak and brittle, a condition called osteoporosis.

However, dairy is not the only way to do this! Spinach gives you of 99 mg of calcium in the single serving (which is 10% of the recommended daily allowance), but with less fat and fewer calories than dairy products!

Spinach Has Anti-Cancer Properties

One of the best benefits of spinach is its anti-cancer properties.  It is rich in a group of plant compounds called carotenoids which in many studies have found to have a positive effect on cancer cells, even with aggressive forms of prostate cancer.  It is also a rich source of chlorophyll, another compound which studies have shown to lower cancer risk.

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Spinach Promotes Eye Health, Too

The antioxidants in spinach don’t just help to reduce your chances of getting cancer. They can also help you see better!  Spinach contains generous amount of another antioxidant compound called lutein.  Lutein has been shown to help promote good vision and to slow or prevent macular degeneration, a serious eye disease that can lead to blindness.

Spinach Helps Stop Bleeding

Vitamin K does many things in the body, but perhaps the most important is that it helps the blood to clot. Since blood clotting is one of the main ways that the body stops itself from bleeding uncontrollably if you get a cut.

However, if you are taking a blood thinner like Coumadin, you should talk to your doctor to find out how much spinach you should be eating: too much can reverse the affects of this medication. A single serving of spinach will give you 483 micrograms of vitamin K — 460% of the recommended daily allowance.

Spinach Helps with Cholesterol and Weight Loss

Spinach is not only rich in vitamins and minerals but is a great source of fiber, too.  Fiber is incredibly important for human health and affects many systems. To begin with, clinical studies have found that a diet rich in fiber can help lower cholesterol levels (to reduce the risk of a heart attack).

It has a great effect on the digestive system, too: it is linked with a decreased risk of constipation and is also helpful for those trying to lose weight as it can help to suppress the appetite and reduce hunger pains while dieting. Each serving of spinach will give you 2.2 grams of fiber.

Spinach Helps to Ward off Asthma

Spinach is also incredibly rich in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant also found in carrots.  Studies have shown that those who have high levels of beta-carotene in their system are least likely to develop asthma, a chronic breathing disorder which can lead to emergency room visits and seriously impact your quality of life.  Eat lots of spinach, though, and you will literally breathe easy.

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Spinach is an Extremely Versatile Food

Apart from the health benefits listed above, spinach is attractive for another reason: it is very versatile to cook with, as you will see in the five delicious, easy-to-make recipes below:

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

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      This is not only a delicious dish with sweet strawberries and crunchy almonds, but the vitamin C in the strawberries makes it easier for your body to absorb the iron in the spinach! It makes a great first course for an elegant meal.

      Curried Spinach Soup

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        Come in from the cold and warm up with a bowl of this delicious soup, which brings together spinach with a ton of healthy spices like turmeric! You can serve this up with warm bread rolls for dipping!

        Spinach Quiche

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            For brunch, lunch or even a light dinner, this quiche is packed with protein and pairs well with a fresh fruit salad.

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            Best Spinach Dip Ever

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              Whether it’s a Super Bowl party or just friends over for dinner, this chunky, tangy dip is sure to be a hit.  It goes great with crackers or tortilla chips.

              Chicken and Spinach Ravioli

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                  This elegant dish takes a bit more time to make, but it is great for a special dinner or for when company is coming over and is great served with garlic bread and a fresh green salad.

                  Featured photo credit: vkuslandia via shutterstock.com

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                  Brian Wu

                  Health Writer, Author

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                  Published on November 14, 2018

                  Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                  Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                  With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                  For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                  In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                  Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                  Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                  It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                  For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                  Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                  Symptoms of Fatigue

                  Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                  • mental blocks
                  • lack of motivation
                  • headache
                  • dizziness
                  • muscle weakness
                  • slowed reflexes and responses
                  • impaired decision-making and judgement
                  • moodiness, such as irritability
                  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                  • reduced immune system function
                  • blurry vision
                  • short-term memory problems
                  • poor concentration
                  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                  Causes of Fatigue

                  The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                  Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                  Medical Causes of Fatigue

                  If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                  Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                  Anemia

                  Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                  Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                  There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                  This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                  Diabetes

                  Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                  Sleep Apnea

                  Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                  Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                  Thyroid disease

                  An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                  Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                  • Lack of sleep
                  • Too much sleep 
                  • Alcohol and drugs 
                  • Sleep disturbances 
                  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                  • Poor diet 

                  Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                  Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                  Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                  How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                  Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                  1. Tell The Truth

                  Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                  To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                  Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                  The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                  One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                  • How you feel
                  • What time of day it is
                  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                  • How your mind and body reacts

                  This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                  2. Reduce Your Commitments

                  When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                  If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                  When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                  Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                  3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                  If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                  Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                  If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                  Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                  Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                  4. Express More Gratitude

                  Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                  It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                  Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                  5. Focus On Yourself

                  Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                  There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                  But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                  We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                  6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                  Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                  Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                  The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                  Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                  7. Take a Power Nap

                  When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                  Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                  This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                  8. Take More Exercise

                  The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                  Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                  The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                  You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                  9. Get More Quality Sleep

                  To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                  Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                  My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                  10. Improve Your Diet

                  Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                  Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                  On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                  To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                  Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                  Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                  11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                  Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                  When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                  Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                  My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                  12. Get Hydrated

                  Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                  Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                  If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                  The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                  The Bottom Line

                  These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                  If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                  Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                  [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                  [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                  [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                  [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                  [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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