Chronic Fatigue – TIRED, EXHAUSTED ANYONE?
Fatigue can be felt physically, mental or a combination of both. What really separates fatigue from just feeling ‘tired’ is that fatigue is either felt constantly or in ‘waves’ that aren’t necessarily associated with our activity levels.
Feeling tired with no real reason should sound the alarm bells! Chronic fatigue can be debilitating and make our work and personal life so difficult. We are designed to be physically active most of the day and wake in the morning feeling refreshed, ready to take on the day.
So, when this isn’t happening, we need to ask ourselves the big question – WHY am I so fatigued?!
What is Chronic Fatigue?
Chronic fatigue, also termed adrenal fatigue, is intense or prolonged tiredness/ exhaustion which can make it hard to cope with everyday life. Being fatigued make us moody and easily overwhelmed, effecting our tolerance and responses to others. No matter what anyone says – fatigue greatly affects our life!!
Symptoms of chronic fatigue include:
- Fatigue not relieved by sleep
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- Craving for salt or salty foods
- Lethargy (lack of energy)
- Increased effort to do everyday tasks
- Feeling easily overwhelmed
- Decreased sex drive
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Increased time to recover from illness, injury or trauma
- Lightheaded when standing up quickly
- Mild depression
- Less enjoyment or happiness with life
- Thoughts less focused and more fuzzy
- Memory less accurate
- Feeling rundown
- Difficulty recovering from illness
- Don’t feel awake till after 10am
- Afternoon low between 3 and 4 pm
- Needs caffeine
- thyroid issues under or overactive
Why am I fatigued?
Chronic fatigue can be caused by a range of reasons and often there’s a combination of factors! Finding the cause of your fatigue should take a holistic approach; this means we need to look at ALL the areas of your life including your nutrition, lifestyle, sleep quality, social circle and environment. It is also our top priority to rule out any underlying medical conditions and or nutrient deficiencies/ insufficiencies which may be the cause.
Let’s take a look at some factors which can contribute to chronic fatigue:
- Lack of quality sleep (of course!)
- Consistently going to bed after 11pm, sleeping with electronics in the bedroom, eating before bed – check out our blog on sleep hygiene
- Using electronics for long hours, especially before bed
- Sleep apnoea
- Lack of exercise, or too much!
- Vitamin B12 insufficiency/deficiency
- Iron insufficiency/deficiency
- Folate insufficiency/deficiency
- Vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency
- Insufficiency of other nutrients (such as magnesium)
- Psychological stress, anxiety and worry
- Food intolerances
- Digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea
- Autoimmune conditions
- Excessive sugar consumption– white refined products (bread/pasta/cakes/biscuits etc), soft drinks, even overdoing natural sources as this may effect blood sugars levels
- Chemicals exposure such as cleaning products, hygiene products, makeup
- Recreational drug use
- Too much or too little cortisol – This is a big one!
Do any of these sound like you??
Let’s Talk About Cortisol
Cortisol, also known as our ‘stress hormone’, is naturally released by our body to help control many processes in our body, such as: blood sugar levels, metabolism, immune response, blood pressure, central nervous system function and many more. Cortisol is important for our health but being known as our ‘stress hormone’ is no mistake! When we are stressed (physically or mentally) our cortisol levels begin to raise.
Healthy cortisol levels fluctuate during the day but especially peak in the morning, allowing us to spring out of bed and start our day! If our cortisol levels raise too high, or for long periods of time, our cortisol production goes a bit out of whack. Because of this, the first sign of cortisol issues is often waking up un-refreshed.
If You Are Fatigued, Where Do You Start?
The first place to start if you’re fatigued is going through our list of contributing factors (listed above) and see if you tick any of these boxes!
If this foundational work hasn’t helped, then it’s time to dig deeper to find the cause. Your practitioner can lead you in the right direction; sometimes blood testing for markers such as cortisol, inflammation, liver function and certain nutrients can reveal a lot! In clinic we interpreted these tests not only for disease, but for ideal ranges specific to YOU.
Fatigue can be debilitating but there is hope!
Do you need help figuring out your fatigue? Contact our friendly reception on (08) 8332 2271 or book here to work with one of our practitioners!
Eat some more collagen and organ meat
Do I consume as much collagen and even organ meat as I should?
No I don’t but I have been adding a tablespoon or 2 of collagen (hydrolysate version is best) into my daily diet and I do like a bit of fried liver with thyme and onions or pate but just not as regularly as I really should.
Organ meats just have such high nutrient value they are invaluable. They are natures vitamin, mineral and nutrient punch. Things like vitamins B12, A, D & K, folate, choline, iron and Coenzyme Q-10.
Different versions of Carnivore Diets
Ok, back to CARNIVORE.
It has been around for quite a while but the last couple years it has really been gaining a ground swell of popularity.
It seems people are literally fixing or reversing long term chronic illnesses and on the way also gaining such vibrant health and people like Amber O’Hearn, Jordan and Mikhalia Peterson, Dr Shawn Baker breaking world records to boot and the folk at Paleomedicina.
Please note they actually all have their own way of carnivore dieting that work for them.
So never ever one diet for all!
Are there risks?
I know what you will be saying – we need plants in that our diet? What about fibre? What about feeding our gut bacteria? What about all the nutrients we need that we get from plants? What about red meat and bowel cancer?
These are important questions and we don’t have all the answers yet but there are signs of N=1 examples and multiple N = 1s showing tremendous benefits. Another way of saying this is, we don't have a scientific published clinical trial but, anecdotally 1000s of people as finding life changing health outcomes. Also people like Belinda and Dr Gary Fetke have highlighted information about where our current dietary paradigms and dogmas appear to have originated from here and here and also here.
Interestingly there are also numerous case reports of people eating nothing but meat for months to decades who suffer no apparent nutrient deficiencies.
When you consider the reverse and ask – is there any 1 singular plant food that when not supplemented in any way could sustain life for weeks to decades and show no clinical signs of deficiency?
The answer is an absolute - "NO there are is not a plant food that could do the same" as deficiencies are guaranteed, so interesting things to ponder.
Diet does change our gut microbiome and fermentable fibre is conventional thought of as being a key ingredient for healthy bacteria. Our gut bacteria usually need indigestible, fermentable plant fibre to eat and live. Some animal based foods, such as collagen, are also thought to feed our gut bacteria, so its an evolving space for now.
As Maria points out a diet such as carnivore (animal only, mostly meat based) can change our gut microbiome, in part by reducing bacteria digestible fibre therefore potentially reducing bacterial numbers and this in some cases may well be the reason for the benefits.
The devil may be in the details - poor gut health (leaky gut) and bacterial composition (dysbiosis or pathogens) may mean great results (especially for those with allergies and autoimmune conditions) with low fermentable fibre carnivore diet. but this may not be optimal for all of us.
Another concept is the increased diversity of our gut microbiome. Increased diversity is conventional thought of as beneficial and gives us a more robust health but again details may matter, as above, and there are a few reports of diversity actually going up on a carnivore diet, so go figure!
This also means that a carnivore diet may not be optimal for all of us and might only mean that if you can't tolerate fibre or plant based foods you may be better off on a animal based approach used as a therapeutic tool.
Something else that not many people talk about is a real and important risk of social isolation, this can include any highly restrictive eating pattern including plant based diets such veganism. As humans we need social interaction and contact for optimal health
So for some using a carnivore like diet in the short term may provide a perfect, yet extreme, reset. It can be used as a tool with a reintroduction of some plants foods when tolerated and this gives us convenience, flexibility, social interaction, antioxidants and an increased gut microbiome again with all the possible health benefits too. Mikhalia Peterson, who we mentioned above, actually does not enjoy her all meat restriction but continues to eat this way from necessity and continues to trial eating some plant foods provided she does not react.
The need to tweak and change
Here is what I will tell you – if you are chronically ill don’t keep pushing the ‘healthy’ diet whatever that is – vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto, high fermented foods etc you need to rethink and change and try a different approach or sometimes just a small tweak may be needed.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome” and that is the whole point nothing is perfect and things need to change sometimes, so that is where we also come in to help and support you in finding something that works for you specifically.
Here is the punch line though – we (Maria, yes vego Maria, myself, one of he other clinic practitioners and a couple loony friends are going to do a month of eating only meat, water and salt - so yes all meat , just to see for ourselves what it feels like. Longer may be better but we thought we will see what a short trial does in our lives.
Stayed tuned for an up date as we are also taking pre and post diet pathology blood testing to also get an objective measure of what happens to our biochemistry.
All the best
Tim - Nutritional Medicine Specialist
You are different
You need a tailored treatment plan, using pathology testing to accurately and scientifically assess your health and risks.