Tired all the time? If your diet is the problem, it’s also the solution
Key strategies to raise your energy levels
Tired all the time, wiped out, exhausted, fatigued… my clients all had different ways of saying it, but the problem was essentially the same. As a nutrition consultant, I encountered the same health issues time and again. Top of that list, by a mile, was low energy, or however you prefer to put it.
Most of these people were fairly young — usually in their 30s or 40s. Sometimes they were only in their 20s. “You should be bouncing off the walls!” I’d occasionally comment, and they’d always agree.
I sometimes thought of my clients as perfectly healthy, but not very well. More often than not, they looked fine enough, having had their good health confirmed by a raft of medical tests. They held down jobs, relationships, lives, but their narratives revealed heroic juggling skills. Hardy as they appeared, inside they were struggling with exhaustion, coupled with anxiety about their exhaustion.
If that sounds like you, it’s worth considering possible dietary causes of your fatigue, especially if you’ve tried everything else and been given the all-clear by your doctor.
The first thing I’d ask my exhausted client was if they were getting enough sleep. Second on the list was whether they’d had a blood iron test. If not, I’d urge them to get one arranged as soon as. If, in addition to fatigue, my client also experienced weight gain, constipation, hair loss, I’d suggest seeing their doctor for thyroid testing.
The decks cleared, it was then time to look at diet. The first and most important step was, and always is, to identify the cause of the problem. Symptoms can be as complex as the human body itself, and you can save a lot of time (and money) by cutting to the chase.
Gut problems and fatigue often go hand in hand. Gluten sensitivity is one sign of that, but it’s not the only one. The link between the life in your gut and your energy levels is profound and well established.
An extreme form of fatigue is chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). People with chronic fatigue syndrome commonly report gastrointestinal problems.
These people have been shown to have a different gut microbiome from healthy people, with less diversity and more “unstable” bacteria.
Deep within your gut exists a parallel universe of microorganisms, including over 100 trillion bacteria, belonging to over 1000 species. Your inner life is collectively known as the gut microbiome. Some of the bacteria that make up the microbiome are friendly and helpful; some are downright rude and hostile, creating disturbances and upset. So powerful is this microbiome that it is considered a “hidden” organ.
Dysbiosis occurs when there is an overgrowth of the less desirable species, leaving the ones you want much reduced and weakened.
Those “bad” bacteria cause mayhem in a number of ways, including damaging the gut lining. When damage occurs, there may be “microbial translocation” — the movement of gut bacteria into the blood stream.
The result is inflammation and a “leaky” gut. When the gut is leaky, the bacteria that enter the blood effectively have access all areas, and release a toxic substance called endotoxin, which triggers an immune response, i.e. inflammatory proteins, such as cytokines.
It is this inflammation that is frequently at the root of the problem. If you have an inflammatory bowel disorder, such as Crohn’s disease, you have a greater risk of developing chronic fatigue.
Or you may just feel very, very tired.