We all know what it is like to sleep poorly one night and struggle to function well the following day. If your sleep becomes disrupted on a regular basis, then normal daily function becomes a struggle. Many people are aware that when you are fatigued mentally, physically or both, that many daily activities become a huge effort to complete. Feeling flat and tired is a sign that there may be an underlying issue
This fatigue is also a sign that the cells of our body are unable to function well, and this can affect the way your body pumps the blood around the body, your digestion, your immune system in its role to fight infections, and the ability to build muscle and burn fat.
Fatigue can then lead to the body presenting the following symptoms, due to the cells unable to carry out the many processes needed for optimal health
- Mood disturbances
- Brain fog
- Muscle aches and pains
- Reduction in stamina and endurance
What drives fatigue?
When clients come in to clinic complaining of fatigue and low energy, we look at what could be the underlying causes.
- Stress – comes in many forms, work deadlines, family and social responsibilities to name a few. It is the constant production of stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) that can start to dysregulate our normal stress, leading to fatigue in the body – in particular the brain.
- Poor Sleep – the importance of good quality sleep cannot be undervalued. This is when our body gets a chance to repair and rebuild new healthy cells.
- Dehydration – This is a common effect of fatigue – and one that is sometimes overlooked. Dehydration impairs your bodies ability to deliver nutrients and oxygen around the body, and remove wastes. Even mild dehydration can impair your mental and physical performance and cause you to feel fatigued.
- Blood Glucose Disturbances – your body requires insulin to transport fuel (glucose) into the cells from your blood to produce energy. Irregular eating, high sugar diet and stress can lead to insulin resistance – where the cells cannot use the glucose as fuel. A key sign is an afternoon slump typically 3-4pm.
- Hormonal Disruptions – hormones can influence energy production, so any imbalance can cause fatigue. In some males this may be a drop in testosterone, and female menstruation symptoms; PMT, irregular periods, or heavy periods.
- Lowered Immunity – poor immune functions puts us at more risk of infections, and is directly linked to fatigue. Part of the immune response is inflammation, and high levels of inflammation impact on the cells ability to produce energy.
- Mood disturbances – having a good functioning brain and nervous system is fundamental to feeling energetic and motivated. The brain and adrenals work together as part of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA axis), working together to regulate the nervous system. It is now understood that the term adrenal fatigue is actually better termed HPA deregulation. It is the effect of the Cortisol on the brain that causes changes in our way we cope with stress, our memory, our emotions and how fatigued we feel.
- Oxidative stress – Mitochondria are our little powerhouses that produce energy in every cell. Any damage to these cells can have a massive effect on energy production. Oxidative stress is very damaging to the mitochondria, and the free radicals – caused by bad nutrition, stress, and poor lifestyles, are the biggest contributors to oxidative stress.
- Inflammation – can be caused by excess fat, poor diet, hidden infection, or allergies. This inflammation can be burning away at our cells and can be a chronic process that causes issues with our moods, energy levels and overall cellular health.
How do you help reduce fatigue and increase energy?
An optimal diet provides the right amount of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to promote optimal energy levels. Limiting substance that may interfere with energy production (sugar, alcohol, processed foods), and limiting these types of foods will also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. The correct exercise, good sleep and stress management are also an important part of fighting fatigue. Supplements can help to start feeling better, to help address any nutrient deficiency that may be driving some of the symptoms.
Book a nutrition consult at Mint
To get to the bottom of the driver of your symptoms, it may be beneficial to have some functional testing done, looking at different options including blood, urine or salvia. During a nutritional consult, our Clinical Nutritionist can decide if any of these testing options will be beneficial. A personalised treatment plan will be administered, and follow up consults to help with restoring and maximising your energy levels.