Are you constantly feeling tired? It is common, but it is not normal!
Fatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness and/or lack of energy. It is a symptom, rather than a specific disease or disorder. People who are fatigued feel tired in both body and mind and commonly have slowed reflexes and reduced function in daily life. Estimates vary, but it is thought that up to 60% of patients visiting their primary health care professional complain of fatigue. Fatigue is more common in women than men: women are affected almost twice as often as men.
Common causes include:
- Nutritionally deficient diet
- Anaemia (iron, folic acid and/or B12 deficiency)
- Fatigued adrenals (i.e. adrenal hypoactivity)
- Addison’s Disease
- Subclinical or clinical hypothyroidism
- Hypoglycaemia, BGL dysregulation and/or diabetes
- Sleep disorders, such as INSOMNIA, sleep apnoea or restless leg syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Inflammatory bowel disorders – e.g. Coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, IBS
- Stress and Anxiety
- Possible environmental pollutants and contaminants
- Bowel toxicity and/or dysbiosis
- Food allergies
Dietary guidelines that may assist in the management of fatigue include the following:
- A toxic burden on the body can contribute to fatigue. I recommend a gentle detox (which you can find in my online Program here). Addressing the gut and liver when it comes to fatigue (with the guidance from a nutritionist) is highly recommended.
- Eat a healthy diet: increase the amount of fruit, vegetables, wholegrain foods, low fat dairy products and lean meats in your diet. Reduce the amount of high fat, high sugar and high salt foods.
- Choose a good quality supplement under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
- Avoid refined foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats, dairy products, and gluten-containing grains.
- Increase fresh vegetables, legumes, whole grains (non-gluten), protein, and essential fatty acids (nuts, seeds, and cold-water fish).
- Drink plenty of water – a dehydrated body functions less efficiently.
- Be careful with caffeine – one or two caffeinated drinks (like coffee or tea) per day may boost energy and mental alertness. However, heavy caffeine users (more than six drinks per day) are prone to anxiety, irritability and reduced performance. I recommend enjoying one coffee if you must, before 10am.
- Eat breakfast – food boosts your metabolism and gives the body energy to burn. The brain relies on glucose for fuel, so choose carbohydrate-rich breakfast foods such as cereals or wholegrain bread.
- Don’t skip meals – going without food for too long allows blood sugar levels to dip. Try to eat regularly to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
- Don’t crash diet. The reduced food variety of the typical crash diet also deprives the body of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
- Don’t overeat – large meals can drain your energy. Instead of eating three big meals per day, try eating six mini-meals to spread your kilojoule intake more evenly. This will result in more constant blood sugar and insulin levels.
Women who are menstruating are prone to iron-deficiency which can escalate to anaemia if left untreated. Make sure your diet includes a range of iron rich foods such as lean red meat and green leafy vegetables.
- Ensure adequate, regular, and consistent amounts of sleep each night. 7-8 hours at least!
- Effective relaxation is essential – try techniques such as yoga or meditation or deep breathing everyday. I do this!
- Maintaining a reasonable work and personal schedule is important. Set your boundaries and stick to them. Feel comfortable in saying ‘No’.
- Increase physical activity – physical activity boosts energy levels, while a sedentary lifestyle is a known cause of fatigue.
- Avoid alcohol and drug use.
- Limit caffeine – too much caffeine, particularly in the evening, can cause insomnia. Limit caffeinated drinks to 2 or less per day, and avoid these types of drinks after lunch time.
- Learning to do nothing is helpful. One of the drawbacks of modern life is the urge to drive ourselves to bigger and better heights. A hectic lifestyle is exhausting. Try to carve out a few more hours in your week to simply relax and hang out. If you can’t find a few more hours, it may be time to rethink your priorities and commitments.
- Encourage having more fun! Laughter is one of the best energy boosters around.