Do you feel tired, fatigue or even exhausted sometimes or all the time? Not knowing why or believing that its just normal because you have a busy life? Do you feel lazy? Unmotivated? Are you relying on stimulants like coffee or energy drinks to keep you going? Well you aren’t alone thats for sure and there is a lot you can do! Struggling to keep your energy up can be related to many things including genetic factors but some great places to start looking include; sleep, diet, hormones, exercise and certain stressors.
When we are fatigued we struggle to function properly, our reactions are impaired, we are irritated easily, it effects our thinking, our mood, motivation and our passion for life. Fatigue has become a common problem and chronic fatigue a more debiliting one.
It’s normal to feel tired at times, if you have worked hard physically or mentally for long hours, if you haven’t had a good nights sleep, it’s expected that you might feel tired. These causes of fatigue are short lived and should pass with rest and recovery. But what happens when a lack of energy is the norm, when it’s not relieved by sleep or rest?
Isn’t It Normal For Me To Be Tired?
Have you been told that you just need to exercise more? or that you’r a mum its normal to feel tired? or that at your age – what do you expect? Of course there may be times when its normal and the fatigue is explained but we often see people where their fatigue should have been investigated long before it was and it kept getting pushed aside with one excuse or another from various practitioners or a clients very own beliefs. But lets consider that us humans have been designed to move physically for most of our waking hours!
FATIGUE tells us something is wrong, the body isn’t getting its needs me, be that a nutrient deficiency, a food issue, environmental, stress issue or a sleep issue, but more importantly it can be a symptom of a serious health issue and should be taken seriously when the cause is not obvious or not alleviating.
The GREAT news is that there are some really good lifestyle hacks that you can start to make to get off the fatigue “merry go round” and regain your energy. Poor motivation often comes with poor energy, its like a protective mechanism to stop you from pushing your body into doing too much when it dosen’t have the reserves!
Your Gut & Foods – A Cause Of Fatigue!
One area that is easy to miss is the area of food intolerances & allergies (these do differ) it is the easiest area to rule in or out, and the hardest for most to recognise as being an issue. A clear strategy to identify if this is an issue can provide amazing results. Everyone is different and while some have issues with groups of foods others may only have issues with one food, knowing this is useful not just in terms of fatigue but can also resolve other symptoms. Food intolerances are not necessarily a “forever” problem and restoring gut function goes a long way in resolution.
Causes Of FATIGUE
- poor quality or quantity of SLEEP – lack of consistency!
- poor diet – junk food just dosen’t provide what our body needs to run, its the wrong fuel
- food intolerances & leaky gut
- excessive exercise
- lack of exercise – sedentary lifestyles, we are designed to move
- ongoing emotional and mental stress, or poor stress management
- sleep apnea
- blood glucose imbalances or insulin resistance
- anemia’s – iron, vitamin B12 or folate
- vitamin D deficiency
- high or low cortsiol
- thyroid issues – PLEASE NOTE A NORMAL TSH LEVEL DOES NOT RULE OUT THYROID ISSUES!
- electromagnetic influences
- additives and chemicals in our food
Conditions Associated With Fatigue
- sleep apnea
- joint and muscle pain
- liver dysfunction
- pancreatic dysfunction
- kidney dysfunction
- blood sugar disturbances
- cardiovascular disease
- poor mental function
- poor physical performance
- behavioural disturbances
- mitochondiral dysfunction
What About Mitochondrial Issues?
Mitochondria are the powerhouse of each cell, responsible for 90% of the energy produced in each cell. Issues in the function of the mitochondria can be a major cause of fatigue. Mitochondria use protein, fats, carbohydrates as fuel and need various nutrients such as N- acetyl carnitine, lipoic acid, coenzymes Q10 and magnesium. Oxidative damage to DNA interfere with function of the mitrochondria. Oxidative damage can be caused by any of the following:
- environmental toxin exposure
- ionizing radiation such as x rays, ultra violet
- tabacco smoke (first or second hand)
- air pollutants
- excessive or inadequate exercise
- inadequate sleep, wake rhythms and cycles
- chronic infections
- gut issues
What To Do & Where To Start Looking?
Fatigue can be quite straight forward in the way we investigate and tackle it and for many, improvements can be felt within weeks. The first steps must be with detailed information around sleep habits and whilst this sounds obvious, unless you have insomnia or apparent wakefulness its easy to miss the less obvious signs. Sleep apnea, mouth breathing, lack of complete darkness, compromised digestion, electromagnetic fields can and do impact the quality of your sleep and are important areas to consider.
Testing for nutrient insufficiencies is an absolute MUST these include:
- iron, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D
Testing for anything that might be effecting the way your organs are functioning is another MUST and some of these include;
- thyroid functions (please note a TSH is not a sufficient way to understand how your thyroid is working), antinuclear antibodies, cortisol, insulin, glucose, liver & kidney function, inflammatory markers, oxidative stress markers, infections such as virus and bacteria, immunoglobulins
THE POWER OF HERBS & NUTRIENTS
Our absolute favourite in treatment for fatigue is always to rectify the lifestyle factors that are contributing or causing the problem. Once all of the above causes have been identified and resolved. If sleep is still an issue – then put all your efforts into resolving the sleep issue of which there are many great hacks to help (this does not include using dangerous pharmaceutical drugs).
Then looking to herbs & other nutrients can be very powerful. Herbs which are really foods that either are no longer in our diets or are exotic and so we don’t have easy access to them. Herbs can be included in a subtle way such as herbal teas or far more potent in the form of tablets or tinctures. Adaptogenic herbs which nourish the adrenal glands: include withania (ashwagandha), licorice root, the ginseng, rhodiola, holy basil. Herbs that nourish the central nervous system (nervines) are also useful such as lavender, chamomile, skullcap, passionflower and kava. There are also potentised green foods such as spirulina and chlorella. Of course in the nutrient department its useful to understand that not all nutrients can be measured or they are not reliable markers of stores, these include most of the B vitamins, magnesium, acetyl carntine, coenzyme q10 and particularly forgotten for energy are vitamin B5 and B6.
Don’t settle for suboptimal energy levels its not necessary and it can be resolved most of the time. For those of us who have pushed the body beyond what it is designed to do, had a hard life, a stressful life then be patient on yourself, identify the issues and start to slowly make the needed changes. For athletes or workaholics you will definitely need to give your body more in terms of nutrients/herbs since you are expecting your body to do what it’s not designed to be doing. A common trade mark, and buddy to fatigue when we push the body too much is an immune system that starts to let us down.
Metagenics practitioner support – Fatigue key clinical concepts