How Much Spare Energy Do You Have At The End Of Each Week?

Fatigue

Let’s face it, the demands of modern life can leave many people feeling that they just don’t have enough energy to keep up. Fatigue makes everything we do seem more difficult and can rob you of enjoyment, enthusiasm and quality of life.

Or are you feeling tired, run down, suffering brain fog, bloating or putting on weight?

Let’s face it, the demands of modern life can leave many people feeling that they just don’t have enough energy to keep up. Fatigue makes everything we do seem more difficult and can rob you of enjoyment, enthusiasm and quality of life.

What is Fatigue?

We all know what it is like to sleep poorly one night and struggle to function well the following day. All of us feel this way on occasions. However, if you are feeling flat and tired more often than not, then this is a problem that can negatively impact all aspects of your life. Fatigue describes the physical and/ or mental state of being tired – literally lacking energy. Although physical and mental fatigue are different, it is not uncommon to experience a combination of the two.

Fatigue affects every cell in the body and contributes to many common symptoms including mood disturbance, brain fog, muscle aches and pains and reduced stamina and endurance.

Fatigue is the most common, unexplained complaint presenting to general practitioners, with a prevalence of up to 25%. Studies also show that up to half of these patients who present with fatigue will find that all their conventional blood test results are normal. Lack of an easy diagnosis plus the invisible nature of fatigue means that people are often left suffering in silence, finding it difficult getting effective treatment.

Why Am I So Tired? – Some Underlying Causes of Fatigue.

Stress

Stress is a daily reality for most people. Work deadlines, family and social responsibilities can leave you feeling drained. Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are important for the “fight or flight” stress response, but excessive production can leave you feeling exhausted.

Poor sleep

Consistent good quality sleep is essential. Lack of sleep is associated with reduced concentration, memory and work performance, as well as anxiety and depression.

Dehydration

Dehydration is a common cause of fatigue, but is often overlooked. Even a 1.5% dip below your body’s normal water volume can cause fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Studies show that many people are in fact more than 2% dehydrated. Dehydration impairs body temperature regulation, delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the cells, and impairs your mental and physical performance.

Blood Sugar Imbalance

Infrequent meals, diets high in sugar and processed foods result in your cells becoming “resistant” to insulin. A key sign of this is hypoglycaemia with an energy slump in the mid -afternoon, typically between 3 and 4 pm.

Hormone Imbalance

Healthy hormone balance is essential for energy production. Men may have low testosterone. Young women often have irregular cycles and symptoms such as PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and menopausal women may suffer hot flushes and night sweats as a result of declining oestrogen levels. Pituitary, thyroid and adrenal gland imbalance may also be present.

Impaired Immunity

Poor immune function increases the risk of infections which in turn cause inflammation and worse fatigue.

Mood Disturbance

A well- functioning brain and nervous system is fundamental to feeling energetic and motivated. Many people experience anxiety and /or depression as a result of lacking energy.

Oxidative stress

Mitochondria can be thought of as energy producing batteries inside each cell. However, toxicity and poor diet or lifestyle habits create free radicals that damage the structure of mitochondria and limit their ability to produce energy. As such mitochondrial abnormalities are central to people experiencing fatigue and must be corrected.

Inflammation

Inflammation can be an invisible, but very active process impacting all body systems. Poor diet, being overweight, having a "hidden" infection  such as chronic glandular fever, mycoplasma or Lyme-like disease, allergies, toxic metals, food intolerances and digestive problems are often relevant.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Like any high performance machine, your body needs the right fuel to run at its best. Healthy nutritional choices provide a balanced intake of macronutrients that are essential to maintain optimal energy levels.

Recent surveys have revealed that an incredible 93% of adult Australians do not consume the recommended five serves of vegetables per day, and only 50% eat the recommended two serves of fruit.  Magnesium deficiency is widespread and affects one in three Australians.  Zinc levels are significantly lower in chronic fatigue syndrome patients compared to healthy controls and low zinc levels correlate with illness severity.

Treatment Considerations

A detailed medical history and appropriate pathology testing can help you to uncover the underlying causes of your fatigue.

It is important to address your symptoms as well as the underlying causes of your fatigue

Nutritional supplements are also important. They include B vitamins, magnesium, Coenzyme Q10, omega-3 essential fatty acids, iron, selenium, vitamin D, acetyl L-Carnitine, vitamin C and zinc.

Herbal medicines such as Rhodiola, Ginseng and Withania are often helpful in managing stress and improving brain function, mitochondrial health, stamina, energy and hormonal balance.

Sleep quality needs to be optimised, emotional stresses addressed and it is essential to make sure that you are not exposed to mould, rising damp or other toxins at home or work.  (Unfortunately fifty per cent of Australian homes, especially old homes, are affected by water damage. Some water damage is hidden in walls, but bathrooms in particular are common sources of mould toxins).

A graded exercise program improves stress management, circulation and hormone balance. However it is important not to overdo exercise as it can then worsen fatigue. In general I advise that you do fifty per cent of what you can think you can do. Needing extra naps or having a pulse rate that stays fast after physical activity has finished are clues that you may have overdone it.

Dr Peter Holsman

Integrative Medical Practitioner    Naturopath   Professional Speaker

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