Being fatigued has practically become a way of life in North America. Day in and day out, most of us are inundated with unrelenting stress, information overload, and sleep deprivation. To cope, we put our health and well-being on the back burner, depending on stimulants like caffeine to keep going. If this sounds like your life, you’re not alone.
Fatigue is often caused by a less-than-ideal lifestyle that can include overworking, a lack of sleep (including interrupted sleep), a lack of physical activity, mental stress, and poor eating habits. Over time, pushing yourself past your limits can lead to serious health consequences. Besides the obvious effects on the ability function physically, being chronically exhausted can interfere with your memory and concentration. It can also lead to weight gain and weaken your immune system, leaving you less able to fight off disease.
On the flip side, a sedentary lifestyle can also leave you fatigued. Lack of exercise leads to a problem called “deconditioning” where the organs of the body begin to deteriorate, resulting in fatigue. Research shows that even mild exercise could counteract the deconditioning response.
Normal fatigue happens to all of us from time to time. In some extreme cases, fatigue and lethargy can be the result of an undiagnosed medical condition. If you simply can’t find the energy to make it through the day – even though you eat well, supplement, exercise, and get plenty of sleep-ask your doctor about other potential causes.
The following can also zap your energy levels and leave you feeling fatigued:
Adrenal Fatigue-Your adrenal glands produce the hormones cortisol and norepinephrine during times of stress. These hormones also balance your blood sugar, which helps your body manage the daily flow of energy. After years of nonstop tension, your adrenals can “burn-out”. This can leave you in a constant state of exhaustion. More than 80 percent of Americas suffer from some level of adrenal fatigue, says Marcelle Pick, RNC, MSN, OB/GYN, NP, and the author of Are You Tired and Wired?
Signs you are among this statistic include feeling tired for no reason, having trouble getting up in the morning – even if you’ve gone to bed early the night before, feeling rundown or overwhelmed, having trouble bouncing back from an illness, and/or having intense cravings for sweet and salty snacks.
An Underactive Thyroid -The most common thyroid malfunction among women, it can intensify or mimic PMS or menopausal symptoms, including weight gain, lack of energy, and depression. A drop in hormone production can also make you feel weak and tired. Thyroid hormones become inefficient when the stress hormone, cortisol, it too high or too low.
A healthy lifestyle is the cornerstone of an energetic life. A high-energy diet is essential to feel fantastic. It is rich in complex carbohydrates, whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables – together with lean protein. Generous amounts of healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado or organic coconut oil can also keep fatigue away. To keep your energy consistent throughout your day, try to include a serving of lean protein, healthy fat, and a whole grain with at least one serving of vegetables and/or fruit in every meal.
In addition to a healthful diet and exercise, energy-building vitamins and targeted supplements for Adrenal or Thyroid support can help reclaim your energy levels and support overall good health.
Herbs that are good at promoting more energy include green tea and adaptogens such as maca, ginseng, rhodiola ashwagandha and schizandra. Adaptogens help increase stamina, provide long term energy, improve digestion, improve the immune system and help with hormone balance. Herbs like Gotu Kola and Matcha also increase energy. One serving of Matcha is the nutritional equivalent of 10 cups of green tea, so it can boost energy, provide anti-oxidants and boost brain function.
You should consult a healthcare professional before starting any diet, supplement or exercise program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.