Do you find yourself dragging out of bed in the morning?
Are you reaching for a cup of coffee or other caffeine by mid-afternoon?
Do you have brain fog or difficulty with concentration?
Do you feel sluggish and feel like you have lost your passion for life?
Do you feel wiped out after a workout or strenuous activity?
If your answer is yes, you are most certainly not alone.
Fatigue is one of the most common complaints I hear from clients. Unfortunately, the symptom of fatigue is usually, multi-factorial and often takes some investigation to get the bottom of it.
My approach to fatigue is to get to the root cause of symptoms and address the symptoms from the ground up. In order to do that, it is important to know the most common cause of fatigue.
Some causes of fatigue include:
1. Poor Diet.
Consuming a diet high in processed(boxed, bagged, fast) foods full of chemicals, bad fats and sugars do not adequately support the nutrient needs of the body. The most important and first step to address fatigue, and most health concerns, is through diet. It is imperative is to eat a nutrient dense diet full of colorful organic produce, rich in phytonutrients, including vegetables and fruits. Eat responsibly raised animal proteins, wild caught fish, nuts/seeds, sprouted & soaked legumes, and gluten free grains to help nourish the body and support energy production. A rule of thumb is to eat foods in their natural form. For example, eat an organic apple and some raw almonds instead of potato chips.
Adequate hydration is necessary for proper energy production and detoxification. Make sure you drink a minimum of half of your body weight, in ounces of water, every day.
(e.g.: if your weight is 200lbs, then 200/2 is 100, so that’s 100 oz of water minimum )
3. Poor Thyroid Function.
Nearly every cell in the body has thyroid hormone receptors and requires adequate hormone to function. The thyroid controls many biochemical functions of the body including temperature, heart rate, metabolic rate, digestive function, brain function and mood.
Common symptoms of sluggish or low thyroid include: fatigue, constipation, palpitations or racing heart, slow heart rate, dry hair, course hair, loss of eye brows, puffy face, enlarged thyroid(goiter), weight gain or weight loss, brittle nails, cold or heat intolerance, dry skin, depression, forgetfulness, infertility, muscle aches, joint pain, heavy or scanty menstrual periods.
A comprehensive blood test including TSH, T3, T4, free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3, Thyroid peroxides antibodies and thyroglobulin antibodies is important to address optimal thyroid function and determine if improper thyroid function is a cause of fatigue.
4. Poor Adrenal Function & Stress
Many of us live in fight or flight, where our body thinks it is outrunning a lion or tiger, every day, all day. We are surrounded by demands of a go, go, go society and we place high expectations on ourselves. Sometimes these demands are more than what is humanly possible to achieve, keeping our adrenal glands on overdrive, on a consistent basis, leading to miscommunication and imbalanced hormones.
The adrenal glands secrete cortisol, a hormone necessary to get us out of bed and through our day, as well as other sex hormones and hormones to help regulate blood pressure. If the adrenal glands are constantly under pressure to produce, they will eventually struggle to produce adequate cortisol. Cortisol is essential to wake you up in the morning and give you energy to enjoy your day without the feeling of fatigue. Balanced cortisol is also necessary for proper sex hormone production, otherwise you will steal your feel good sex hormones to make cortisol. Cortisol is imperative for life, just like your primary bank account. Your sex hormones are your vacation fund. They help you feel more vibrant, however they are not crucial to sustain life.
Symptoms of high cortisol include: weight gain, puffy face, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, being highly susceptible to infections, high blood pressure, acne, muscle aches and pains, increased urination, changes in libido, and excessive thirst.
Symptoms of low cortisol include: fatigue, depression, dizziness, sensitivity to light, inability to cope with stress, heart palpitations, muscle weakness, emotional hypersensitivity, insomnia, clumsiness, sensitive skin, headaches and irregular menstrual cycle.
The best way to test cortisol levels is a urine cortisol metabolite test, although I rarely use this test and move forward with recommendations, based on symptoms.
5. Male or Female Hormone Imbalance
Balance is the key to hormones. Each and every hormone we create talks and communicates to each other and our cells. It is important to remember that balanced sex hormones is the goal and interjecting one hormone can throw the other off kilter even more.
Cholesterol is the first hormone in the steroid pathway, which helps us create our sex hormones. Proper nutrition, digestion and absorption of proteins and other nutrients is a necessity to create the building blocks of hormones.
Some symptoms of hormone imbalance include: fatigue, decrease in sex drive, bloating, irritability, puffiness, acne, irregular menstrual cycles, decreased strength or muscle tone, depression and tender breasts. An estrogen imbalance in men can show up with enlargements in breast tissue.
Hormone testing is best through saliva or urine, however many practitioners only use serum for testing.
6. Anemia or Low Iron
Anemia causes fatigue due to the lack of red blood cells in the body, which bring oxygen to your tissues and cells.
Symptoms of anemia include: fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, headache, chest pains, anxiousness, lack of concentration, ice cravings and poor sleep. Simple exercise such as walking up a flight of stairs can cause shortness of breath and exhaustion, if anemia is severe.
A blood test including a CBC, Total Iron Binding Capacity(TIBC), Ferritin, B12 and Folate is recommended to rule out anemia.
7. High Blood Sugar
When we eat, food is converted into glucose to utilize as energy. Having a poor diet with too many processed carbohydrates causes the body to develop insulin resistance, leading to elevated glucose in our blood stream.
Symptoms include: fatigue, frequent urination, hunger, weight loss or weight gain, having an apple shaped body(round around the middle), irritability, excessive thirst, yeast infections, blurry vision or change in vision.
Blood testing including fasting insulin, glucose, HgbA1C are recommend to rule out improper glucose utilization.
8. Methylation Issues
Methylation is an important biochemical process of the body, which is immensely complex. In short, methylation helps the body rid of toxic environmental chemicals, helps create neurotransmitters to help with mood regulation, sleep and more. MTHFR 677 and 1298 are two variants of gene SNPs(single nucleotide polymorphisms) that have been studied and researched significantly.
Testing for MTHFR can be done via blood or saliva. You can get this information from a 23andme or Ancestry DNA’s raw data.
Symptoms include: fatigue, difficulty falling and staying asleep, anxiety, depression, migraine, miscarriage, IBS, cardiovascular disease(heart attack and stroke) and chronic pain, just to name a few.
9. Low Vitamin D
Low Vitamin D is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies and causes of fatigue. Other symptoms include: difficulty thinking clearly, bone pain, bone fracture, feeling down and head sweating.
Vitamin D is found in very few foods and usually needs to be supplemented. The sun is the best source of vitamin D, although it requires a daily dose of sun for about 15 minutes, with skin exposed and without sunscreen.
Vitamin D is important to proper immune function, which helps you fight infections. It also helps with fight auto-immune disease, cardiovascular disease and helps repair DNA.
Vitamin D can be tested through blood.
10. Low B Vitamins
B vitamins are necessary for many functions including energy production, proper nerve conduction and muscle contraction. Many people are low on B vitamins due to poor diet, poor absorption or both.
Testing can be done via blood or Organic Acid Testing(OAT).
11. Eating Too Close to Bedtime
Did you know that every time we eat, our immune system samples what we have eaten? Eating too close to bedtime can cause you to have difficulty falling asleep, then waking often, due revving up the immune system.
Have you noticed that many over the counter sleep aids have Benadryl or the generic form diphenhydramine in them? This is to calm down the immune system and help with sleep. Taking these sleep aids block your liver from detoxifying during the night, leaving you dependent on them to sleep.
Eating too close to bedtime also causes the liver to be burdened with sugar regulation.
Do you identify with any of these causes of fatigue?
I bet your answer is YES! Contact me to help get to the root cause of your fatigue and get you feeling better ASAP.