Do you feel a little bit slower in the afternoon?  The afternoon slump is well known and experienced by millions of people every day.  Whether you stay at home or work all day this slump is bound to strike.  Most people feel this fatigue between the hours of 2pm and 4pm, which is generally in between lunch and dinner.  This unproductive time period can be brought on by many factors including lack of sleep, poor eating habits and stress.  Exerting lots of energy in the morning can have you feeling burnt-out.  Cramming for a deadline can fry your brain and skipping meals or over eating can make the afternoon slump more prevalent. 

Taking care of your body begins at night.  Be sure to get a full nights rest with a goal of the recommended eight hours.  Eat a good breakfast that will start up your metabolism and get you ready for the day.  Go easy on the caffeine; more than four caffeinated drinks may cause irritability and anxiety.  Over eating at lunch can make you drowsy even before the afternoon slump. 

When you begin to feel fatigued or unproductive try different things before pouring a cup of coffee.  Take a five minute nap if possible and if you are stuck at a desk, stretch for a few minutes.  Stretching will increase blood flow and can help with alertness.  If you are feeling hungry don’t jump to eat a fatty, sugary treat; it may give you a quick rush however it will not sustain your fullness or energy.  Try a snack that has a good balance of carbohydrates and protein.  The carbohydrates will help you with a more immediate result while the protein will keep you feeling energized later.  Some examples of a good afternoon snack include vegetables and humus, blueberries and granola, or apples slices with peanut butter.  Remember that are a lot of factors that play into your afternoon slump.  The best way to eliminate it or lessen it is by taking the many approaches listed above.  Just think, by 4pm tomorrow you could have accomplished much more than you expected just by doing a few simple things.

As you crunch on that carrot, did you ever wonder where it got its color?  Beta carotene is a pigment that is an orange color and gives color to orange, yellow and red fruits and vegetables.  Everyone has heard of vitamin A, but did you know that it comes from beta-carotene?  Vitamin A is well known for helping your eyes and keeping your skin healthy. With the help of its precursor beta carotene, vitamin A can help keep you in tip top shape.  Keep in mind that too much of a good thing can be bad.  Vitamin A does have a toxicity point so it is important to be mindful of any supplements you are taking while eating vitamin A rich foods.  One good thing is that your body only converts beta carotene into the vitamin when needed, so don’t be too worried about eating a couple extra carrots. 

On another note, beta carotene is an antioxidant.  It protects the body from free radicals that damage your cells.  Having a diet rich in antioxidant foods can boost your immune system and may lower the risk of getting some chronic diseases.  Beta carotene has shown to be beneficial treating certain sun sensitivity and metabolic syndrome when received from natural food sources.  Beta carotene is found in many different foods and not all of them are a shade of orange.  Some foods containing a lot of beta carotene include red peppers, lettuce (ex: romaine, red leaf), kale, spinach, carrots, and pumpkin.  Orange, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables, as well as leafy greens have beta carotene.  If you see a food rich in color, there is a good chance it contains beta carotene.  So crunch on a carrot or make yourself a nice salad because beta carotene is just waiting to help you out

Fun Fact: Flamingos get their color from the beta carotene found in their crustacean and algae diet!