POST 50
06/30/2014 07:50 am ET

3 Harmful Dietary Habits That Can Drain The Energy Right Out Of You

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Tired of being tired? Studies show that it often takes older adults 30 minutes longer to fall asleep than younger adults. And, when they do finally fall asleep, they sleep lightly and wake up a lot. It's no wonder, then, that many of us feel sluggish during the day.

Don't compound the problem by maintaining a diet that drains the energy right out of you. For example, sugary foods may seem like a good idea, as they may give you a quick burst of energy, but they're actually not as your blood sugar will wind up lower than before you ate the sugar. Ultimately this "crash" will sap you of energy.

Need other ideas for an energy boost? Check out the three dietary tweaks below designed to give you an instant jolt to get you through the day. Have any other ideas? Let us know in comments.

1. Eat foods with iron.

You will definitely crash and burn by mid-afternoon if you only eat foods low in iron. These foods include milk, cheese and potatoes. Instead, seek out great sources of iron such as beef, fish, beans, lentils, poultry and leafy greens. Why's iron so important? Iron is an essential mineral that helps to carry oxygen from the lungs around the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Without enough of it, you may feel cold, weak and tired.

2. Stay away from processed foods.

Processed foods usually contain less fiber and more sugar than other foods, which make them terrible for insulin health and blood sugar control. Sugar consumption is strongly linked with health issues such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. And it can have an adverse impact on metabolism when consumed in excess. Need more proof that processed foods are bad for you? A recent study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that rats became lethargic when fed a diet low in fat but high in simple sugars and refined flour. Yet another study, from 2012, found that processed foods can slow the brain, hampering memory and learning.

3. Ditch the fried foods and caffeine.

Fried foods will make you sleepy because your digestive system has to work harder than usual to process the fats in them. And fried food won't do your skin any favors either. Loaded with oil and trans fats, fried foods can clog arteries and stiffen blood cells, which makes skin appear wrinkled and worn out. Caffeine, too, should be avoided. Although it's a stimulant, you'll no doubt feel even more tired after it peaks. So skip that morning cup of java and go for a cup of tea instead. White tea can help you look younger and black tea can help reduce stress. What could be better?

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