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Stressful work hours and shrinking leisure time leave most of us in a state of perpetual fatigue. This affects not just our quality of life but also our efficiency at work. Try this three step approach to beat off that feeling of listlessness:

Check your vitamin levels

Vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficiency is often at the root of that unexplained feeling of lethargy and aches and pains. Ever wondered why sunlight makes you feel better? That’s vitamin D in action. So try to get some sun every now and then during office hours (maybe there’s a balcony where you can go and sit and sip some tea or make a call. Sunlight signals your biological clock to stop the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy, and boosts your energy. B12 is found mostly in non-vegetarian sources; so, if you are vegetarian and your levels are low, opt for a supplement.

Include a probiotic food at work

Include one probiotic food in your lunch meal, ideally everyday, to help good bacteria thrive in the intestines. This is essential for better digestion of food and assimilation of nutrients, which ensures enough energy. Another big benefit is that they are loaded with B vitamins, which help release energy from food. Eating fermented foods is a great way of getting good bacteria. Sprouts, dhokla, yogurt, buttermilk, probiotic milk, etc., are all good options.

What to avoid

Go easy on refined carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine. All these are exhaustion feeders. Caffeine is a diuretic—it increases the amount of water and salt expelled from the body as urine. So, consume a small cup at a time. And say no to energy drinks. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are rapidly absorbed by the blood stream, causing a spike in blood sugar. The blood sugar crash that happens thereafter can also leave you low on energy and foggy.

Experts: Vibha Bajpaiee, senior nutritionist, Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, Faridabad and Dr Manoj Sharma, internal medicine, VPS Rockland Hospital, Delhi

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