I recently had a client who had the best intentions about getting more exercise but she mentioned feeling tired often. She had ruled out serious medical issues by having some blood test she felt a bit confused as to why she so fatigued.
A common reason for sluggish feelings could be diet. Dr. William Cole's article on "8 reasons why you're tired" for the Mind Body Green website, he sites diet in 5 of the 8 reasons. The first reason he sites is the possibility of a macronutrient imbalance. Dr Cole explains that "macronutrients are fats, proteins and carbohydrates, and that for our body to properly "runs on these three macronutrients, and we need proper ratios of each one to suit [our] diet and lifestyle". He explains that a lack of fat consumption with dieters could actually be causing them to feel more tired. Dr Cole explains that since "fat has been cut out of the standard American diet and that caloric deficit has been replaced with refined carbohydrates, specifically grains" we are burning sugar rather than fat and this can cause a sugar peaks and valleys which lead to mood swings, resiatance to weight loss and fatigue. Coconut oil, avocados, eggs, and, if you eat meat, grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon, are all great forms of whole food fat for your energy! From a biochemical standpoint, your body's best and slowest-burning form of energy is fat. Furthermore, your brain is made of 60% fat and 25% cholesterol, so nourishing that precious organ is the cornerstone to overcoming fatigue. Although more rare, inadequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates will also contribute to low energy levels.
2. Micronutrient Deficiencies
Our bodies are alive and functioning because of biochemistry. When we don't nourish them with the specific nutritional requirements that make health possible, it can start with you feeling tired and lethargic. Some nutrient deficiencies that I see on a regular basis in patients that are fatigued are iron, vitamin D and vitamin B deficiencies. Each one of these nutrients can be checked by a simple blood lab and should be considered when you are struggling with low energy.
3. Poor Gut Health
Known as the "second brain," your gastrointestinal system is essential and often overlooked factor in your energy levels. You don't necessarily have to have noticeable gut symptoms to have an underlying chronic gut issue. Your gut-brain axis is a complex web of communication between these two vitally important systems when it comes to your energy levels.
If your body is bogged down with conditions like permeability of the gut lining (leaky gut syndrome), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or just generalized imbalances in your gut bacteria (dysbiosis), it can drain your energy significantly. When these conditions are resolved, energy levels and vitality are restored back to normal. Interestingly enough, chronic gut dysfunctions are also linked to fatigue's stubborn partner, weight loss resistance.
4. Inflammatory Foods
The foods we eat are dynamically instructing our biochemistry and our energy levels. Our meals are either helping or hurting your energy levels; there's no neutral food when it comes to your body's function. It's no secret that refined foods, excess carbohydrates and empty calories will negatively affect your health, and that will typically begin by zapping your energy levels. The infamous "sugar coma" can only be stopped if you stop eating what is fueling your low energy!
Underlying intolerance to foods like gluten, gluten-free grains and dairy can also cause fatigue. If you're suffering from fatigue, start by eliminating the inflammatory foods in your diet and try kick starting it off with my real food challenge here.
The word "toxin" has become so cliched and ubiquitous in the health community that the common person reading this article will probably roll their eyes right about now. The reality, though, is that our world today IS alot more inundated with substances that are toxic to our health. We are not genetically adapted to this onslaught of toxicity, and our energy levels are typically the first "check engine light" that something is not right. With a comprehensive health history and the use of proper diagnostic testing we can rule out common toxicities like heavy metals or plastics; if you don't want to wait for tests, there are ways to reduce toxins in your life now.
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