Are you finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning? Trouble having the stamina to remain alert and focused throughout the day? Don’t have the energy to do the gardening or walk the dog?
The issue with fatigue is, that sometimes it is difficult to understand just why you’re feeling this way. There are so many variables in life that can contribute to having what is simply a lack of energy and a desire for sleep, sleep, and more sleep.
Be kind to yourself! Realise that although you may not know why, there is a reason you are feeling this way and it may warrant investigation. But before having a deeper look into these ongoing symptoms - why not try altering your lifestyle first? This will help you tick off the boxes relating to common culprits of dismal energy levels, and may improve your overall health regardless.
Look After your Liver
In Naturopathic medicine, feeling fatigued when waking up in the morning even after a seemingly sufficient night’s rest, can indicate some liver sluggishness. So have a think about how you’ve been treating your liver lately. If you’ve been over-indulging in too many carbohydrates, sugars and alcohol, it might be a great time to show your liver some loving!
Start the day with a glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in. This helps gently cleanse your liver by stimulating the elimination of those offending foods. Increase your consumption of nutrient-dense foods including cruciferous vegetables, garlic, bitter greens and artichokes. Support liver detoxification by sipping on Dandelion tea throughout the day, and perhaps supplementing with St Mary’s Thistle.
It could be as simple as not drinking enough water! The truth is, your body is able to adapt… this means that if you have gotten into a habit of not drinking enough water, or the bulk of your fluid intake comes in the form of coffee and tea, your body’s signals alerting you to thirst can become diminished.
This lack of thirst can lead to mild dehydration, and mild dehydration can have a significant impact on your energy levels, focus, and concentration. If you find it difficult to increase your water intake to the standard recommendation of 2 litres a day, start small!
Add a glass in the morning when you wake up, swap your tea for herbal teas which do not contain caffeine and can therefore contribute to your water intake, and just try and sip on a glass or two of water throughout the day - your body will soon start responding.
If you don’t like the taste of water, add some chopped up fruit, strawberries and mint go nicely together or even squeeze some lime juice into your water.
So you think you have a healthy diet? If your daily meal plan resembles toast or bran flakes in the morning, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner – you may need to do a bit of an overhaul for the sake of your energy levels.
Focus on lean protein and vegetables at every meal, and no this doesn’t mean chicken salads for days… It means incorporating beautiful healthy fats and nourishing protein sources for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So start including eggs, avocadoes, red meat and chicken, coconut products, legumes nuts and seeds – basing it on a more whole-foods approach! These foods are not only high in protein, but high in essential fats and nutrients that fuel your cells and help to stabilize blood sugar levels keeping it balanced throughout the day.
The great thing about supplements is that their main purpose in life is to do just that, supplement your health. When you aren’t meeting your dietary requirements, or you simply aren’t absorbing the nutrients as well as you could be – supplements can come in and give you that added boost, but its important to remember they don’t replace a healthy balance diet.
For energy and fatigue, the B Vitamins are a great place to start! They are the essential energy vitamins as they help the body utilize the food you eat – turning it from food to fuel.
CoQ10, an antioxidant important for mitochondrial function, is a great one to use, its like a spark plug for our cells. Also our CoQ10 levels naturally decline as we age, so it might be a worthwhile supplement to look at. “Do not take CoQ10 while on warfarin therapy without seeking medical advice”.
It may seem counterintuitive, but consistent low-moderate exercise such as walking or getting involved in low impact activities like yoga, swimming and bike-riding, can actually help boost energy levels and reduce feelings of fatigue.
This may be due to its involvement in increasing energy-promoting and mood-enhancing neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. But on a more basic level it increases both blood and lymphatic circulation – subsequently oxygenating and giving life to more tissue.
When you think of adrenaline you think of a surge of life-preserving energy in the face of a potentially deadly stressor. However in this day and age we are plagued with chronic lifestyle stresses that may be mental, environmental, and emotional. This type of stress actually has the opposite effect as our bodies resources become exhausted, causing low energy and fatigue.
It’s easy to say ‘de-stress’, but it’s a lot harder to do. Making time for yourself will result in a better version of you, including increasing energy levels. So find out what takes you away from your troubles, however briefly – in order to help clear and regenerate your mind. My go-to’s are exercise, swimming, a movie, reading, or baking!
Swap your Caffeine
A shot of coffee can be so tempting, especially when it’s taken you an hour to drag yourself out of bed in the morning or you’re finding yourself slumped over the desk in the afternoon. But too much caffeine can actually make you feel worse, especially if you are adrenally fatigued.
If you’re used to having a latte on the regular, try swapping it for a Matcha or Turmeric Latte! Matcha is finely ground green-tea leaves that produces a calming-stimulating effect - a perfect balance of sustained and supported energy through a combination of caffeine and L-Theanine – and don’t even get me started on its antioxidant content!
When fatigue is something more
These hacks should sort out what may be a transient issue with the body’s natural energy and resilience, to something that may be directly contributing to these symptoms. If addressing these areas has yielded no significant benefit, it really is worthwhile investigating further with a health care professional to uncover potential underlying causes. There are a whole host of reasons that could be causing fatigue so it is always best to get a thorough check up by your doctor and a full blood count.
*Always speak to your doctor first before starting on a new supplement.