A-Z of Health – F – Fatigue
There’s more to fatigue than simply being tired. I am not talking about Chronic Fatigue (CFS)/ME here which is a different condition entirely with more physical symptoms than just being tired. I am referring to when people are otherwise healthy but always feel tired.
Tired of feeling tired?
Poor nutrition is a leading contributor to the fatigue epidemic faced as a result of modern living and a western diet but why?
Food provides energy, right? So, if we eat enough then we shouldn’t feel tired, we should have enough energy? When it comes to food as fuel it isn’t just the number of calories that gives it energy, it is all the vitamins and minerals which do the real work and unfortunately too many people count calories and focus on the numerical content of food without stopping to think of what the food actually does!
A calorie by no means determines the nutritional value of the food!
Unfortunately, a western diet is often high in calories but low in nutrients meaning we eat a lot but quite often don’t feel full or satisfied from the foods we eat so we keep eating.
How is this linked to feeling tired or fatigued?
This is what should happen when we eat (real) food: –
- You eat (real) food
- Food gives you energy which stabilises blood sugar and produces a slow release of energy
- Food provides vitamins and minerals (many are essential to you actually utilising the energy from foods eaten)
- You produce a hormone (leptin) that makes you feel full
- You produce neurotransmitters from the amino-acids in the food you ate that balance your mood, help you concentrate and when appropriate make you alert or sleepy
- You get antioxidants from the foods eaten which get to work protecting your body
- You get essential fats which protect your heart, your ability to manage emotions and your cognitive health
- You get on with your day
What often happens in a western diet: –
- You eat (processed) food
- Food gives you energy which produces a fast, short release of energy and a blood sugar spike/crash (this also triggers an insulin response – see post T Type 2 Diabetes)
- Food is empty calories (nutrient devoid) so you don’t feel the benefit of the energy from the food nor any of the beneficial protective properties of the micronutrients
- You produce a hormone (Ghrelin that tells you that you’re still hungry)
- You artificially create neurotransmitters from the foods eaten but this leads to a crash
- You don’t get antioxidants from the foods eaten leaving your body at risk of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species (see L – Long term Stress)
- If eaten trans fats you block any essential fats thus stopping any protective properties of EFA’s for your heart, your ability to manage emotions and your cognitive health
- You have a blood sugar drop and feel tired, irritable and hungry again
- The foods you eat potentially cause inflammation leading to increased digestive issues, joint pain and cognitive decline
- Because you are lacking in naturally created neurotransmitters you may need to artificially ‘pick up’ usually in the form of sugar and caffeine and artificially ‘relax’ usually with alcohol.
- Artificially relaxing to aid sleep can hinder the quality of your sleep. Poor sleep leads to an increased level of Ghrelin the next day (remember, Ghrelin is the hunger hormone).
Hopefully you can see there is a bit of a cycle going on. Eating processed foods do not provide nutrients (see M – Malnourishment) this in itself is a big problem but the purposes of fatigue, nutrient devoid foods leave you lacking in energy and ultimately probably eating more.
Vitamins and minerals are very complex and again, misunderstood. You can’t eat a junk food diet and take a multi vitamin, hoping for the best. Without an effective, healthy and diverse gut microbiome you won’t actually get any benefit from that multi-vitamin.
There are many nutritional factors in addressing fatigue, many of these A-Z posts are interlinked, this type of eating often leads to metabolic decline (Type 2 Diabetes) that then increases your chances of Dementia and Cardiovascular disease. This type of eating weakens your immunity, immunity is the first line of defence against minor and major diseases – see C – Cancer.
- If you feel tired despite eating food
- If you eat diet products or count calories
- If you reach for sugar and caffeine to pick you up
- If you reach for alcohol to relax
- If you get frequent infections
Please talk to me – you may not feel ill. You may not have any weight issues but your body will not be getting what it needs and I can help explain how to help it.
I can help you to shape a healthier future.
About the author of this blog
Louise Mercieca is a multi award-winning author on children’s nutrition with her book ‘How Food Shapes Your Child’ winning the Parenting award in Janey Lee Grace’s Platinum awards.
Louise has also won a SBS or Small Business Sunday award from Theo Paphitis and was recently crowned as Queen of Child Nutrition in the #Queenof Twitter awards.
Louise has worked as a Nutritional Therapist for 8 years supporting hundreds of clients and does take on a limited number of personal coaching clients each month – contact Louise to discuss this. Louise has also created an accessible and affordable webinar schedule covering many topics discussed in this A-Z post series. https://www.louisemercieca.co.uk/webinar