Google ‘how to increase energy’ and you’ll reach zillions of blogs all telling you the obvious things; get more sleep, cut out caffeine, do more exercise, and drink more water. Whilst these will all give you more energy and make you feel better, and should definitely not be overlooked, for the chronically fatigued it will barely scratch the surface.
Nourish your brain
Your brain is a fine tuned machine, running off of electrical signals and chemical messengers. It’s your brain that regulates your whole body, so if you are feeling tired and lethargic we need to consider whether your brain is functioning optimally. Depression, low-mood, anxiety, insomnia, and irritability can all be common symptoms for the chronically fatigued, and these all stem from an imbalance in neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).
Poor quality sleep is a key culprit in fatigue and there’s a really simple way of improving it. Two hours before bedtime, eat two small plain new potatoes. Potatoes contains the amino acid, tryptophan; the precursor to serotonin. Although potatoes are not the highest source of tryptophan, the lack of other amino acids in potatoes means that tryptophan is absorbed readily and easily passes into the brain via the blood stream. This is why it’s important to not have anything with the potatoes, as it would reduce the absorption of tryptophan. Two hours after eating the potatoes you’ll be feeling sleepy, and should easily drift off into a natural sleep and you’ll be less likely to wake up in the night.
Nourish your body
Every cell in your body has its own power-plant, known as the mitochondria. Mitochondria work tirelessly to produce energy, which is used to facilitate every process in the body, from digesting to thinking. You have to put the right fuel in your car in order for it to run, and premium fuels achieve better performance. It’s the same for you mitochondria; you have to ensure it has the right fuel to run, AND that it has all of the ingredients needed to make energy!
Everyone has different nutritional requirements, which is altered by activity levels, stress levels, medications and genetics! Without a one-to-one session I couldn’t tell you what your nutritional requirements are, but I can tell you some common problems that I see:
- Oxygen is one of the ingredients needed to produce energy, and unfortunately it’s not just a case breathing more! Iron deficiency anaemia is a condition where a lack of iron causes red blood cell number to decrease. Red blood cells are needed to transport oxygen around the body, and a lack of them results in fatigue. Even a marginal deficiency (not classified as anaemia and often not considered a concern by your GP) is enough to cause significant fatigue. This is common in women of child baring age, due to the monthly loss if blood during menstruation. Your doctor will test for this if requested. Never take iron supplements without having deficiency confirmed, as excess iron causes damage to the liver.
- Iodine is a mineral that is lacking in the typical western diet, as the main source is from seafood. Iodine is needed for the production of thyroid hormone and thyroid hormone regulates our metabolism and energy production. Iodine deficiency is very common, but a massively under-appreciated cause of illness. Iodine deficiency causes thyroid dysfunction that the standard medical test often misses due to the simplistic test used. Furthermore, borderline thyroid dysfunction is often overlooked! The NHS will not test for iodine deficiency; despite its crucial role in optimal health. I advise against taking iodine without confirming a deficiency or thyroid dysfunction. Within my practice I regularly test iodine levels and do a comprehensive thyroid screen as they are so vitally important!
Crucially, what works for one person will not work for another, and that’s because you need to identify the cause of the problem in order to address it. That’s why my clients chose to make me do all the hard work for them and set me the task of finding out why they are feeling the way they are. Once I’ve done this, it enables my clients to make specific changes to their diets so that they can begin to correct imbalances and become a healthier, happier person.
I work with people with ongoing illness, in my clinics in Essex and Suffolk, and across the UK via online consultation. My area of expertise is in chronic fatigue and digestive health. Find out about my specialist packages.