There are many reasons as to why we may experience fatigue at different times of our lives. Here are a list of common causes of fatigue and what to do about them.
1. As we age our body can become more acidic which causes inflammation. Most chronic illnesses for example are inflammation based. If our body is in an acid state due to impaired detoxification and nutrition we can suffer inflammation which can lead to symptoms such as fatigue. It is important to address what we eat, how we combine our foods and question if our food is sustainably grown, harvested and stored. For example an alkaline mineral is Magnesium. Magnesium is necessary to promote healthy muscular repair and regeneration. Magnesium is found in whole grains, nuts and seeds. The pH in our bodies is altered by over consuming acidic foods such as bread, pasta, tea and coffee and not balancing our diet with lots of vegetables, fruit and water.
2. To put it simply our bodies are continually processing and converting what we eat into ENERGY. Even while we sleep we are still processing, detoxifying and producing energy. The role of the digestive tract has 3
- To let nutrients into our body
- Keep as many harmful substances out of the body
- Eliminate what we don’t need or want our of the body.
It’s a question of balance as to how well your digestive tract will digest nutrients and process environmental toxins. For example pesticides, petroleum products (PCB’s) toluene, car fumes, plastics (PVD’s) and heavy metals such as cadmium lead and arsenic can block absorption of many important minerals.
Nutrients processed in our bowel, liver and kidneys require amino acids and vitamins to transport nutrients to our brain, muscles, pancreas and neurons. Nutrition and hormones are closely linked by chemical messengers that are amino acid or steroid (cholesterol) based. Along the way conversion of many nutrients are required to signal messages to cells to produce energy. If our digestive tract is sluggish or overloaded we can feel heavy and bloated after eating.
3. Fatigue may be due to having low available iron or stored iron which may be caused by a dietary deficiency or inadequate nutrition or poor absorption of iron.
4. If our thyroid gland is under active we can experience fatigue. For healthy thyroid tissue we require small amounts of iodine in our diet. Iodine levels in the average Australian diet are typically low and many of us for example are unaware just how much iodine we regularly consume.
5. Another cause of fatigue could be what is known in naturopathy as Adrenal Fatigue. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue can be waking up unrefreshed, having energy slumps during the day, feeling anxious or flat, heavy and bloated. There are many studies of the use of Herbal medicines (Mills and Bone 2000 p 595-601, Braun and Cohen 2007 p696-699) that suggest beneficial effects such as improved energy after taking Withania Somnifera for 12 weeks.
6. If we are exhausted our brain can be wired and not sleep. For example this may be due to shift work, stress or international travel where our body clock is out of balance. This can be caused by a melatonin deficiency. For our pineal gland to produce adequate melatonin we require essential amino acids like Tryptophan, Tyrosine and sunlight.
These issues are best assessed by a qualified naturopath who will advise you on specific pathology tests to assess fatigue and give you up to date guidance on improving your diet and prescribe supplements if necessary to assist you to achieve better health.