One of the most common symptoms we face at the Practice is fatigue. 7% of people’s body weight consumes 60% of our resting energy expenditure which keeps the heart, kidney, brain, and liver working. The key organelle that allows your body to produce energy is your mitochondria. This is found in large numbers in most cells and if it begins to struggle it can lead to fatigue, as well as other issues. There are many reasons for mitochondrial dysfunction, such as poor diet, stress, and toxins, many of which can be identified.
This blog looks at how we investigate the causes of fatigue and how improving the fundamentals of living: sleep, food, thoughts, and movement, can help remedy this common symptom.
Fatigue is a protective response from the body asking you to slow down, maybe stop, and reassess what is happening. To find out why someone is feeling fatigued it is essential for us to carry out an assessment so we can understand your energy production.
This assessment contains the following questions:
- When do you first remember feeling unwell and having issues with your energy level?
- What was happening both around you and to you, at that time? Anything and everything that comes to mind.
- How do you sleep? What do you eat?
- How aware are you about the way you think and feel and believe?
- How do you move?
We are looking for 5 main things that can affect how your body is working:
- Nutritional deficiencies: How was your nutrition at that time? Any diets? Any restrictions? Fussy eating? How colourful were your meals?
- Infections: Have you had recurrent infections? Are you someone that gets colds and coughs?
- Increased Pressure or Trauma: How is work, school, home life? Have you experienced stressful situations?
- Toxins: Have you been exposed to toxins such as chemicals or mould?
- Allergies: Have you developed allergies in your life?
Once we have a list of potential things that have affected both your body and its energy, we can begin to understand why it’s producing a protective response, fatigue. The connections we make from your answers show how your body has been affected. For example:
Stress at university → affects nutrition choices→ nutritional deficiencies→ affects how the mitochondria work → lack of energy → affects behaviour→ affects mood → increases stress.
Becoming aware of your story is the first step to understanding what you can do.
At the Practice we firmly believe that the power to feel better comes from you and your lifestyle choices. This includes the way you sleep, what you eat, how you think and how you move your body.
Sleep is a key area for many and where, as practitioners, we focus a great deal of our attention. To understand your sleep patterns better, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you prioritise sleep? Is work taking priority?
- What is your slow down routine at the end of the day? Our body takes cues from the environment to know it’s time to slow down and get ready for sleep.
- When do you have your last meal and drink before bed? Sometimes we see that patients’ blood sugars can be an issue through the night and it can cause you to wake up.
- What time do you wake up at night and why? Is it pain or hunger or racing thoughts?
When answering these questions, what comes to mind as your priority? Knowing about how you sleep can give you the information to help improve your sleep. There is plenty of information available on the subject or you can speak to your practitioner.
Nutrition is another major factor when considering causes for fatigue. It is essential to eat a colourful plate of food which aids digestion and helps the body absorb the food. Energy is created from the food that we eat. Remember, food is medicine. Each colourful vegetable and fruit have nutrients that our amazing body needs to function optimally. Ask yourself, how many colours do you eat in one day? Choosing a new vegetable when you go for a shop is a great way to add diversity to your plate.
When talking about digestion the biggest tip we can give is to slow down when eating and chew!! Did you know we should be chewing 15-30 times before swallowing?
How we think has a huge impact on our health. Our perceptions of the world around us and our stress levels can cause our bodies to feel like they are being drained of energy. Becoming aware of the amount of energy we spend thinking and trying to figure things out can be the first step in addressing unnecessary energy exertions. Let’s stop, take a breath, and find a way to rest and find flow in our lives.
Movement is also a critical factor when exploring reasons for fatigue. This is a matter of balance. When we are fatigued sometimes the best approach is to slow all the way down and listen to your body. Other times it’s about adding in some short bursts of energy. It’s through understanding your body that you will learn to know which response is needed.
These fundamentals of living all need to be considered when trying to support your energy levels. If you want to find out more, please get in touch.