There are multiple causes of fatigue, in fact my research revealed around 87 different causes. When there are so many reasons how on earth can you work out which one is affecting you? Much like a detective gathers up all the evidence and clues, a naturopath does the same thing to work out the most likely cause to help you increase your energy.
Some of the causes of fatigue will be quite obscure and will go to the bottom of the pile. But then there are a whole lot of common health issues which can cause fatigue and sometimes your lack of energy will be caused by multiple factors.
Inflammation is one of the most common causes of fatigue and has impact upon your total health not just your energy production. In fact inflammation is the leading cause of heart disease (more about that another time). Inflammation is described in lay person’s terms as being like “a fire within”. Inflammation affects energy production by having a negative effect upon your energy powerhouses -the mitochondria. These little energy powerhouses live deep inside the cells of your body and produce ATP – your energy. If production of ATP is diminished enough, the outcome will be lethargy, tiredness, fatigue and a lack of energy.
So if one of the main causes of poor energy production is inflammation, we need to get to the bottom of what is causing it. Inflammation has many triggers and at one time or another most of us will suffer with one of these health problems.
Inflammation can be due to:
- Stress –particularly long term stress where the adrenal gland gets “burnt out”. Stress can be emotional, mental or even physical. It often goes hand in hand with depression or anxiety. Stress can produce pro-inflammatory hormones such as cortisol. Mental health problems including stress are commonly associated with the second cause of inflammation – sleep problems.
- Sleep problems. If you can’t sleep well and getting to sleep or staying asleep is a problem, no energy will be a common result. Generally 7 to 8 hours sleep per night is recommended. Waking around 2am with an active mind is often a symptom of stress. Deficiencies of some minerals or an abnormal rise and fall of your adrenal hormones can also contribute to a lack of sleep. Sleep apnea is a commonly undiagnosed cause of fatigue and the constant cessation of breathing throughout the night results in an extremely restless sleep with frequent waking. Sleep apnea is closely linked with obesity and insulin resistance.
- Obesity and excess body fat is another cause of inflammation which will impact upon functioning of your mitochondria. People with excess fat generally have depleted muscle mass, don’t exercise anywhere near enough and eat poorly. We will explore the effects of diet and exercise and its impact upon energy levels in a later article.
- If you have severe pain, no one needs to tell you how much this can disturb your sleep. But pain is a clear indication of inflammation. Pain is much more common in people with obesity and getting rid of pain in an obese person is virtually impossible without tackling the weight issue. If you have severe pain it can be very difficult to exercise, which is a great shame because exercise itself increases sleep quality , increases the production of ATP, speeds up metabolism and builds muscle mass, thus stimulating the growth of more of your energy powerhouses. Obesity causes inflammation, inflammation causes pain which produces more inflammation, pain results in less exercise, less exercise causes increased weight and on and on it goes. Without taking positive action, the whole cycle of pain, fatigue and obesity just gets worse and worse.
- Digestive problems are another little known cause of fatigue. Problems such as gut dysbiosis, celiac disease, crohn’s disease or candida can all cause inflammation which in turn causes mitochondria dysfunction. Remember that the majority of your immune cells live in your digestive system so any gut related problems significantly impact upon the immune system which controls inflammation. Self test kits can be purchased to test for candida and celiac problems. Gut toxicity tests can be done by a naturopath.
- And lastly, food allergy can cause inflammation and cause fatigue. Doing a Food Allergy Eradication Diet (see our book list) can help you establish whether you have an intolerance to a certain food. A food intolerance will produce IgG antibodies and are an indication of inflammation. Fatigue is just one of the many symptoms that can arise as part of a food intolerance.
The good news is inflammation is treatable and eradicating your body of inflammation will make you feel better in so many ways and not just boost your energy.
For a step to step guide to correct your fatigue and increase energy naturally take a look at How to Increase Energy Naturally: The Energy Makeover