Are you feeling exhausted all the time?
If so, you can probably relate to these debilitating symptoms that impact your day-to-day life, things like:
Waking up groggy and unrefreshed,
Not being able to function without having that second cup of coffee,
Crashing when you come home in the evenings in front of the TV
Ultimately feeling disappointed in not having the energy to care for yourself.
Fatigue is one of the most common concerns I see in my practice. Even if it’s not the initial reason for a visit, it almost always comes up as an area that people want to work on.
“I am always exhausted, I wake up exhausted. I don’t have the kind of energy I used to. I have been exhausted my whole life.”
These are all common concerns I hear in my practice.
I realize how incredibly frustrating fatigue can be, in that it can hold patients back from being fully engaged and present in their work, from spending time with their family, friends and with themselves.
What is causing me to be so tired?
Health concerns like fatigue have many causes, but one of the big reasons people are so tired is because of the tremendous amount of energy living in a big city (e.g. Toronto, New York, London) takes.
The busyness of life makes it difficult to carve out time to care for ourselves.
At the same time, there are other health concerns that should be explored and are often under-diagnosed by conventional medicine.
Here are the main 5 areas of health that contribute to fatigue:
1. Food intolerances: The body can become sluggish when inflammation develops in the gut. Inflammation limits the amount of important nutrients that can be absorbed which can deplete your energy. Some commonly reactive foods are dairy and gluten (found in wheat), and there are many others.
2. Infections: Your fatigue may be caused by infections. If you ever had an acute virus or bacteria you may have noticed that your energy levels haven’t been the same since. Some other symptoms from infection may include chronic pain, migraines, fogginess and poor memory.
3. Thyroid health:
Thyroid conditions are often missed by standard lab testing and can be a major contributor to fatigue. While people may not need drug interventions, fatigue can often be improved significantly with the support of herbs, supplements, diet and lifestyle changes – all of which can be prescribed by naturopathic doctors.
4. Adrenals: Adrenal glands release the infamous stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can be very useful in times of stress to activate us into the ‘fight-or-flight’ mode where blood is diverted away from areas such as the digestive tract to the muscles. However, with modern hectic lifestyles, we can remain in fight-or-flight’ mode, and the adrenals stay in overdrive eventually leading to chronic tiredness.
5. Low Iron: Low iron most commonly occurs when the body does not have, or is not absorbing enough, of the mineral iron. Iron is needed to form hemoglobin in the red blood cells, which carries oxygen throughout your body. Some of the most common reasons people have low iron are 1) not getting enough in food, 2) heavy menstrual bleeding, and 3) difficulty with iron absorption due to digestive concerns such as food intolerances and Celiac Disease.
So what can I do about this?
If you experience fatigue, you know how challenging it can be in not only going through your day-to-day life, but with living life optimally.
These are some general things you can do to improve your energy levels
Drink Lemon water in the morning: a fresh lemon in water in the morning can gently support digestion by optimizing the release of digestive enzymes. Lemons contain Vitamin C, which support the absorption of iron and nutrients from your foods.
Drink holy basil tea: holy basil tea supports the adrenal glands by levelling out cortisol hormone levels – a stress hormone – so it’s not too high when you don’t want it to be.
Choose whole foods 80% of the time. Instead of going all-or-nothing, choose whole foods like fruits and vegetables, unprocessed foods, and grains 80% of the time. This approach encourages balance and sustainable change.
Switch your second cup of coffee to non-caffeinated tea. Avoiding that afternoon coffee can help with sleep issues; it also support your adrenals so you no longer have that midday crash
Chew Your Food: this will help stimulate digestive enzyme secretion and increase the amount of nutrients you absorb from your food.
Employ Good Sleep Hygiene: Sleeping at a reasonable hour, keeping the room dark when you do, setting a screen-time bedtime can all help get you a more restful shut-eye.
To further explore the root cause of your low energy, it is best to meet with a licensed Naturopathic Doctor who can delve deeper into what is happening with you. This allows your provider to create an individualized plan that suits your needs, and you’ll be able to work together with someone at the best pace for you.
To begin, you can always first start by tracking what you experience to get a baseline. Here are some ideas of things to track:
Sleep – how many hours of sleep are you getting? Are you waking up in middle of night? How long does it take you to fall asleep?
How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?
Track Energy level from 1-10 when you wake up in the morning and after your lunch
Before you try to adopt any of the suggestions, be sure to consult your licensed, qualified health provider.
For an individualized program for energy issues, book your Free Initial Consultation with a licensed Naturopathic Doctor today.