Did you find it difficult to get out of bed today? Are you falling asleep at work? Are you yawning as you open this blog? We’ve had a great response from our KulaBlogs featuring Naturopath Jackie Arbuckle. This week we explore ‘Fatigue’ with Jackie.
Hi Jackie, could you please tell us why fatigue seems to be the disease of the modern lifestyle?
As we strive to keep up with an ever-faster world, we try to fit too much in to each day, trying to be a better parent, child, friend, partner, co-worker, neighbour, and global citizen. We feel the need to eat better, exercise more, work harder, and spend more time with the kids, partner, and friends. To combine with all of this we live in a world that is polluted with chemicals, and eat food that is grown in far away places with diminished nutritional value by the time it hits our plates. It is no wonder we are all tired!
There are many reasons why some people feel constantly tired. Some are mentioned above, but there are others that are more serious, so it is important that the cause of the fatigue is addressed, so that it can be treated effectively.
What causes fatigue and what can be done about it?
Common reasons for fatigue are addressed below. It is important that if you are fatigued, yet get adequate sleep, that your health care practitioner assesses you so that more serious causes can be eliminated or addressed.
Anaemia is a common reason for fatigue. Equally, there are numerous reasons for anaemia such as dietary deficiencies, heavy menstrual bleeding, thyroid disorders, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, peptic ulcer and many more. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anaemia. When the body is deficient in iron, the red blood cells can’t transport oxygen around the body as effectively. However it may not be as simple as taking an iron supplement. Vitamin B12, B6 and folate are also required along with iron to formulate the red blood cells, so if one of these is deficient, the red blood cells cannot be made properly. If you are found to be anaemic it is very important to get this assessed by your health care practitioner.
Overweight is another common reason for fatigue. Physically it is demanding on the body to carry around the extra kilograms. This is hard work and can leave the person feeling lethargic. It puts extra strain on many body systems and often goes hand in hand with other serious diseases such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.
Poor Diet is frequent reason for fatigue. If you eat a lot of pre-packaged foods with little nutritional value, it makes sense that you feel tired. The way we eat also has an impact on our energy levels. Rushing meals and not chewing food properly puts a strain on our digestive system. It takes a lot more energy for the body to break down a meal that is eaten in a hurry when compared to a meal that is chewed thoroughly. Eat simple, whole foods that are processed as little as possible, chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly. Having some protein with most meals helps to stabilise energy and blood sugar levels too.
Stress is very taxing on the body, especially if it is prolonged. This can cause fatigue, especially if it impacts on you being able to get adequate rest. Figure out what helps you to process stress and make time for it every week. For some people it is exercise, meditation, yoga, massages, knitting, socialising with friends, painting… the list goes on. Exercise is a particularly helpful activity in reducing the effects of stress on the body.
Depression can be a reason for lack of energy or fatigue. A good way to assess this is to ask yourself if you have lost interest in things that would normally appeal to you. For example, if you love going to the movies and a friend says they are going to treat you to one, do you want to go? People that are simply tired, would still have an interest in going, however someone with depression would not. Depression is very serious and should be treated promptly. If you think you have depression, talk to your doctor or psychologist.
Indoor Environment has many areas where it can impact on us negatively and thus lead to fatigue. There are 3 main areas of concern:
- Electro Magnetic Frequencies (EMF’s): Clock radios and meter boxes emit a high level of EMF’s about 2 meters in all directions. If these are near your bed, you are sleeping in this unhealthy energy every night. One of the main consequences of this is fatigue, but can also result in lowered immunity, headaches, and many more illnesses. Electric blankets, TV’s and mobile phones are other appliances that also emit high levels of EMF’s. Take stock of what you are exposed to and try and reduce the amount as much as possible. Especially important is where you sleep.
- Air: Increasingly modern homes and offices have become well sealed from the outdoor environment, which has led to a build up of air pollution inside. Furnishings, carpets, and building materials slowly release gases, such as formaldehyde, into the indoor air. Cleaning products also pollute indoors with a cocktail of chemicals. Gas cooking and unfuelled gas heaters can lead to a build up of carbon monoxide, a very toxic chemical. Mould deserves a special mention as it’s very detrimental to human health. It leads to fatigue, allergies, and breathing difficulties. It’s especially harmful if it is in your bedroom. Mould is nonnegotiable: if it is in your home it must be removed. The best way to do this is with undiluted white vinegar, which kills the mould.
- Chemicals: Many cleaning products, insecticides, and personal care products, such as shampoo, soap, moisturisers and make-up often contain chemicals that can be harmful. This increases the burden put on the liver to detoxify it, and in turn, can lead to fatigue.
Dehydration can lead to fatigue. If your body is not well hydrated, then it is much harder for it to work efficiently. Think about your blood pumping around your body, delivering important nutrients, and carrying away cellular waste products. If your body is well hydrated, then blood flows smoothly through your blood vessels, if not, it is more viscous and slower to move around, and your heart has to pump a bit harder. A simple change of drinking 30ml water per kg of your body weight as a minimum amount per day, you will be amazed as to how much better you feel.
Medications can have side effects that lead to fatigue. However it is important to talk to your doctor before you consider changing or stopping any medications. A good way to help your body process medication is to drink sufficient water and have a diet with adequate fibre, as the most common ways the body eliminates medication is via the kidneys, and through the bowels.
Chronic illness and chronic pain can be reasons for fatigue. Pain itself is very stressful and taxing on the body, which leads to tiredness. Many chronic illnesses have symptoms of fatigue, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hepatitis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid disorders, lupus, kidney disease, and of course chronic fatigue syndrome. Cancer is another key illness to be ruled out when someone has unexplained fatigue.
It is very important to get your fatigue assessed by your health professional. They are trained to consider every possibly scenario so the cause of your fatigue can be addressed. Then you can be put on the correct treatment pathway to wellness.
We hope you enjoyed the information provided by Jackie and are ready to make any necessary changes to help boost your energy levels and reduce fatigue.
Stretch and smile,
Kula Corporate Yoga provides Melbourne workplaces with group yoga programs to build employee health, fitness and wellbeing. Kula Yoga offers staff a unique yoga experience to strengthen their minds and bodies. Find out more about our beneficial group yoga programs on our website www.kulayoga.com.au.
Jackie Arbuckle is a naturopath at Carlton Health Group. Level 3, 200 Lygon st, Carlton www.alchemybodyandsoul.com.au Facebook: www.facebook.com/Alchemybodyandsoul