Are you tired some or all of the time? Do you hit the snooze button in the morning? Are you struggling to get through the day without caffeine or sugar?
For some, the answer to the question “why am I so tired?” might be obvious…too many late nights! Simple, and when they get the chance to have a good night’s sleep they are recharged and ready to go again.
However, for others (up to 1 in 5 people), fatigue is a constant part of your everyday existence.
In fact, amongst my client group, I think that number would be 4 in 5.
Even when you get an early night you might not be able to get to sleep. You may wake repeatedly during the night; or even if you sleep well, you may still feel exhausted the next day. Does that sound familiar? So the question is…Why???
There are many reasons why your body may not be generating the energy you need.
When a client comes to me and fatigue is one of their problems, we go digging for the reason/s. (Unless you are a cat, in which case sleeping all day goes with the territory).
Consider the following possibilities:
- insufficient levels of all the vital energy-making nutrients in your diet (not just iron)
- an excessively acidic diet putting stress on the body’s natural buffering mechanisms to maintain pH and causing fatigue as a result
- poor digestive function (even if your diet is good, you may not be breaking down and absorbing the nutrients)
- a state of inflammation in your body which could be caused by chronic disease or food intolerances or a “leaky gut”
- systemic infection especially chronic viral infections or bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (including Candida)
- excessive, poorly controlled stress leading to adrenal exhaustion, insomnia and/or imbalances in your nervous system
- toxicity resulting from pesticides, medications, heavy metals, poor gut function and an overburdened liver
- problems with your metabolism including compromised thyroid function, excess weight, poor blood sugar regulation and hormonal dysfunction.
Look at the list and consider how many of these apply to you. Most of us could cope with one of these factors for a short amount of time. However, if you combine excess stress with a diet that doesn’t have sufficient nutrients, less than optimal digestion and perhaps an underlying infection, it’s no wonder you’re tired.
The majority of our energy is generated in the part of our cells called the mitochondria. How many mitochondria we have impacts our energy levels. These little “batteries” proliferate according to the demands placed on them. For example, moderate exercise stimulates them to increase in numbers. Conversely, eating too many calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods can cause our mitochondria to become sluggish and slows the rate of proliferation.
What can you do about your fatigue?
There is a multitude of nutrients required for efficient mitochondrial function. Some of the key ones include carnitine, B vitamins, iron and magnesium. Eating a diet rich in these nutrients is therefore critically important to energy production.
Good sources of magnesium include nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, green vegetables and seafood. Carnitine is made by our bodies from the amino acids lysine and methionine so a diet with sufficient lean animal protein is important and will also provide you with readily absorbed iron as well. (Vegetarians and vegans may struggle to get sufficient lysine and methionine from their diet but will get some from legumes, nuts and seeds).
Discovering what is going on for you is a complex process and you would be wise to seek the support of your naturopath to help unravel the issues, get to the underlying cause of your fatigue and develop a tailored plan to get you back to your desired energy levels. Looking at your symptoms and analysing your blood tests is vital. Much can be gleaned from standard blood tests but further functional testing may be warranted sometimes.
Changes to diet and lifestyle are important but often supplementation with additional amounts of key nutrients is necessary. Herbal tonics in tablet or liquid form are also an extremely effective part of my arsenal in helping you recover your energy.
And it goes without saying that you need to be getting enough sleep. Start with 9 tips for better sleep.