PureEducation: Fighting Fatigue


In today’s world, everyone is on the go, and with the constant stimulation of our environment, it is no wonder more people are reporting feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Whether it is forgoing that extra hour of sleep for the next episode of your favorite show or feeling overwhelmed mentally from your current workload, we are pushing our bodies, and minds, to the point of fatigue. Fatigue is defined as a feeling of tiredness, or lacking energy, and it can encompass both the physical and mental states. It is important to note that if you experiencing fatigue for longer than six months, this could be a sign of chronic fatigue syndrome and should be discussed with your healthcare provider. Below are some of the different causes of fatigue and what you can do to start feeling your best again:

The foods that we eat can play a big role in how energized we feel throughout the day. Ensuring that we are consuming adequate amounts of plant-based proteins, vegetables, fruits, and grains is vital for combating fatigue. I live by the adage “You are what you eat,” and if you are fueling your body with foods that are overly processed and unhealthy, your energy levels will be at a severe disadvantage. Besides consuming unprocessed plant-based foods, I always try to include three main components with each of my meals:

Enzymes– These proteins help the body to efficiently breakdown the foods that we eat, meaning more potential energy to fuel our cells.
Probiotics– These microbes are essential in my book for a healthy gut. Consuming probiotics helps to keep you regular, clear your digestive tract, and in turn, aid in the removal of toxins that can make you feel bogged down and fatigued. 
Greens– B-vitamins have received much praise for their ability to provide energy; however, this is an indirect benefit of this essential nutrient. The B-vitamins play a role in producing energy from the food that we eat and do not directly provide energy themselves. As a result, when I eat my meals, I include a dose of greens (which provide a healthy amount of this complex)–either fresh, or powdered if I am on the go–to help my body utilize the energy from my food even more effectively.

Individuals can also feel fatigued if their iron levels are low, and in this case, incorporating more iron-rich foods, like beans, or supplementing with iron, can increase energy levels. It is important to mention that any changes to your diet should be discussed with your trusted healthcare practitioner.

For some, the way to alleviate their feelings of fatigue is to get an adequate amount of sleep every day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should receive 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health and well-being. Personally, I don’t function anywhere near my best unless I get a solid 8 hours of restful sleep, but getting there did not happen overnight. For those of you that would like to increase your sleep, do so in small increments. Making this small change will help to ensure you stick to your newfound habit. Going to sleep 15 minutes earlier each week helped me get my sleep time from a measly six hours to a rejuvenating eight, and helped me to stay on track with my sleep goals.

It is also suggested to keep your bedroom free of electronics and bright lights before bed to avoid stimulating your mind. I’m also a huge fan of using lavender essential oil for my bedtime routine, and sprinkle a little in my shower and on my pillowcase before bed to help me calm my mind. Those nights I need a little extra help falling asleep, I turn to tart cherry extract, which is a natural source of melatonin (a hormone that plays a role in our sleep-wake cycles).

Issues with the adrenal gland could also lead to feelings of fatigue. The adrenals play a vital role in hormone production and impact many different cells, tissues, and organs. In some cases, because of extreme stress, lack of sleep, or poor diet and exercise, the adrenal glands may be pushed too hard, and end up reaching a point known as adrenal fatigue. In this state of fatigue, our adrenals are not producing the necessary amount of hormones to keep us energized. In other words, to help soothe the adrenal glands, it is essential to find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as yoga or mediation. Also, eating a healthy diet with no stimulants (no sugar or caffeine) can help the adrenals to rest, and not interfere with an essential good night’s sleep. Also utilizing adaptogenic herbs, such as ashwaghandha, can work to assist the body in coping with stress.

For some, feelings of fatigue could be caused by a malfunctioning thyroid gland. This gland, known as the master gland of metabolism, produces hormones that essentially impact each cell, tissue, and organ in the body, much like the adrenals. In an individual who has an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) or an under-active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), fatigue can be experienced. A malfunctioning thyroid can be diagnosed via a blood test.

Physical Activity
Exercise is a vital component of maintaining energy levels. This may seem counter-intuitive as physical activity can cause feelings of exhaustion; however, lack of exercise can actually cause fatigue, and refraining from physical activity can make it more difficult to perform actions such as walking up or down the stairs. Also, physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight, meaning less stress on your body throughout the day and less energy spent on basic everyday functions.

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