Fighting the fatigued 40’s
Shattered, tired and always on the go – is this 40? Hopefully not! But if you find the mornings hard, that the day can’t start without coffee or that you are struggling to get through the afternoon then this article is for you!
There are definitely some big contenders for the fatigue inducers! Whether you work 60 hour weeks or have a herd of children, life can be exhausting. Let’s have a closer look at some of this fatigue factors that may be affecting our daily energy levels:
Our hormones naturally fluctuate, and sometimes that can take a lot of energy. For females, not only do our hormones fluctuate day to day throughout a normal menstruation cycle, they also alter over our lifetime – menarche, menstruation, perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause. Peri-menopause can start around the age of 35, with women experiencing a decline in progesterone and estrogen. It is this decline that can induce fatigue. Progesterone is famous for helping to calm and elevate mood, and estrogen helps to uplift moods amongst many other things. When both hormones naturally decline during perimenopause, women can feel a little flat, lost and unsettled.
How to support female hormones: hormones are complex, and everyone is different. The way to support healthy hormones is by enjoying a diet rich in fresh produce, support natural liver detoxification with bitter foods and high fibre foods and with herbal medicine. Herbal medicine can provide further support, under the care of a qualified naturopath.
If you are struggling with your hormones or concerned they may be influencing your fatigue, speak to your doctor.
High Work Load
Whether it is the never ending emails, work deadlines, high pressure demands or simply approaching the end of the year, when things get even busier and we are always on the go we can exhaust our cortisol stores. Cortisol has many responsibilities in the body; it is responsible for our natural stress response, linked to inflammation, blood pressure, blood sugar metabolism, carbohydrate and protein metabolism and a healthy immune response. When we are running on cortisol, our stores deplete. This depletion can throw off the delicate balance within our body and contribute to feeling fatigued.
How to support: talk to your boss, explain how you are feeling and see if there are things you can do to help improve your work demands and situation. Apart from that, the key here is simple - take time for you, you need to look after yourself, make sure you take some time each and every day to unwind, have a bath, read a book, sit and talk to your loved ones. It is also important to exercise, get enough sleep and enjoy a healthy balanced diet rich in fresh produce.
The recent Statistics from The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education has demonstrated an increasing trend in alcohol consumption over 40; this was particularly evident in women. The health consequences of alcohol consumption are well documented. In regards to nutrition, we know that alcohol increases nutrient loss (often through urination), in particular water soluble B vitamins. B Vitamins have a strong affinity with cellular energy production.
How to support: aim for at least 3 alcohol free days (and nights) to give your liver a break and support its natural function. With alcohol consumption our liver spends a lot of its energy trying to clear the toxins.
If you are struggling or need help regarding your alcohol intake, speak to a counsellor or psychologist.
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Consuming higher levels of fructose and refined sugar can be a vicious cycle – tired and looking for a quick pick me up, we reach for sugar. The sugar causes a quick rise and drop of blood glucose levels which result in us being tired. Some of the signs of sugar dependence can be craving sugary foods when not hungry, looking for a sweet after each meal and interestingly even being terrified at the thought of quitting sugar can be a sign of needing to reduce sugar intake.
How to support: enjoy a palm size amount of clean protein with each meal to support blood glucose levels, try removing refined sugar from your diet and stick to a maximum of two pieces of fruit a day. Also adding in magnesium rich foods into your daily diet can assist with sugar cravings too.
BMI and circumference
Our BMI and waist circumference can be an indicator of our total health, the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggest “a waist measurement of 94cm or more (for men) or 80cm or more (for women) is an indicator of increased risk” of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and other health concerns. Insulin can play a role in our energy levels and general health and wellbeing. The additional abdominal fat can also slow us down and reduce our energy levels.
How to support: Increasing daily activity and moving our bodies in a way we enjoy, can boost our energy levels as well as increasing our endorphins. It’s important to engage in 2.5 – 5hrs of moderate intensity physical activity and 1/1/4 to 2.5hrs of vigorous intensity activity every week. It is also important to perform muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days per week. This will help in keeping your body moving, healthy and full of energy!
Everybody is unique, and for that simple reason no one diet or lifestyle suits everyone. However, there are some reoccurring foods that may be pulling down your energy. The main contenders are wheat, dairy and as mentioned before refined sugars. As we are busier than ever, we tend to pick the fast food options and while this can be convenient it often is not the most nutrient dense choice.
How to support: Speak with your health care professional, naturopath or nutritionist about which diet and lifestyle will work best for you and your needs. An easy guide to foods that work for you is to keep a diet diary and take note of the particular foods/meals that make you more tired than normal.
A healthy sleep routine is right up there with a wonderful wholefood diet, balanced lifestyle and good exercise regime. A 2011 study observed sleep in relation to energy expenditure in healthy men. The study found a direct correlation that sleep deprivation acutely reduces energy levels. The Australian Sleep Health Foundation found that women suffer almost twice as much from the negative effects of reduced sleep, such as daytime sleepiness, poor memory and concentration. The sleep foundation also found that between 33%-45% of Australians do not get enough sleep or experience poor quality sleep and that the average adult requires between 7-9 hours’ sleep daily. Sleep doesn’t only support energy levels, it is also the time that our body repairs itself, produces hormones and clears toxins.
How to support: aim to be in bed by 10pm, create a sleep routine, make your bedroom a calming sanctuary which is dark, cool and quiet and is only used for sleep and sex. Keep work, laptops and phones out of there. It’s also important to avoid screen time 2 hours before bed.