Always Fatigued? Your Diet and Lifestyle May Be to Blame!
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
We all feel tired and drowsy at times. These feelings are normal parts of our innate daily circadian rhythm. They let let us know when we need to rest and when it’s time to get some 'shut eye', whether it’s a good night’s sleep or a nap, after which most of us feel refreshed and ready to go. But for people suffering with fatigue, feeling sluggish, lethargic, weary and tired throughout the day for no apparent reason – even after sleep – is the norm.
At times, not having enough energy to do daily tasks or even make it through the day can be frustrating and impact our overall quality of life. It also may affect the ability to pay attention and perform routine cognitive tasks. This fatigue may last for a short amount of time (a few days or weeks) or may be chronic (lasting up to six months or more).
Fatigue can cause a variety of symptoms, many of which can impact our quality of life or even put us at risk for injury or diseases. These include:
- Muscle weakness or pain
- Headaches, dizziness, blurred vision
- Moodiness, irritability
- Loss of appetite
- Slower reflexes, impaired hand-eye coordination
- Problems with concentration, short-term memory
- Compromised immune system
It is important to know that there is a difference between the fatigue that we may occasionally experience and what is known as chronic fatigue. With the latter, the fatigue experienced can be debilitating and last for months or longer. It does not get better with rest and may worsen with stress or physical exertion. Unfortunately, while research continues to look into its causes, these remain a mystery. It is, however, believed that chronic fatigue may be the result of a combination of factors. If your fatigue is extreme and/or lasts a long time, you should talk with a competent healthcare practitioner about how to best manage and alleviate your symptoms.
There are any number of causes for being fatigued. Some are medical, such as heart disease, depression, fibromyalgia or diabetes. These should be addressed with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner. Medications you take for any acute or chronic condition may also cause fatigue, so be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist about them as well.
Others, however, may be directly related to your lifestyle choices, work, personality or nutrition. These include:
- Getting too much or too little sleep
- Excessive use of alcohol or recreational drugs, smoking
- Not getting enough exercise
- Being overweight
- Drinking too much caffeine
- Following an unhealthy diet full of processed foods and sugar
- Being anxious and worrying too much
- Not drinking enough water (being dehydrated)
- Mineral or vitamin deficiencies
The first thing you should keep in mind – and which is a good thing – is that being fatigued is usually a symptom of something else. Once you know what may be causing your fatigue, you can take steps to address it. For medical causes you should, of course, work with a competent healthcare practitioner. But for other causes, some changes in your lifestyle or diet may help.
In order to determine if your diet may be contributing to your fatigue, I recommend getting a nutrient test to make sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs – and in the right amounts – to help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Making sure you have adequate levels of copper, zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium and iodine is important since any imbalance in these nutrients can cause fatigue. You can learn more about the relationship between minerals and fatigue in the pH Labs book Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy.
In addition to following a healthy diet, the portions, frequency and timing of your meals may help you battle fatigue. Here are some things you may want to consider:
- Avoid skipping meals and/or having too much time pass between meals – this will help maintain your blood sugar levels, variations in which can cause fatigue
- Set a calorie goal for the day and try to keep to it since not getting enough calories can make you fatigued – the same holds true for overeating
- Since each of us is different, experiment to see if eating three meals a day is best for you or if eating several smaller meals throughout the day is best for minimizing fatigue
Also be sure to get enough exercise and natural sleep, avoid overindulging in alcohol and limit your caffeine intake.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.