If someone has ever come up to you and told you that you look tired or aren’t looking so good, your first response may be to brush it off. Maybe you think about putting on makeup or face creams to hide your puffy eyes. The reality is that you should focus on what’s happening inside of your body to cause you to look so fatigued.
I have to be honest, I’m shocked by how many patients come into my office complaining of fatigue. So I have to ask myself, why are so many people fatigued, and why don’t doctors say more about it when you go in for a visit? Many doctors brush it off as a normal part of the busy lives we lead. But waking up tired after eight hours of sleep is not normal. Energy crashes throughout the day are not normal. You should not come home from work and fall asleep on the couch immediately. A lot of people feel that the demands of their job warrant this kind of fatigue, but it is likely that there is something else going on.
Today I am going to cover six fatigue myths that most of us believe:
MYTH #1: FATIGUE IS NORMAL
Fatigue is a warning sign that something is not right. Although we tend to think that it is normal to be tired as we age, this is a total myth. It is a sign that something is not right in your body. You should have plenty of energy as you get older.
LOOK FOR THE CAUSE
There are three things that I think about when I am working with patients. The first thing is, what is going on with the glands? Are the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands slowing down?
If you have been stressed for a long time or pushing yourself beyond your limits, your body will signal you to slow down and take a break. The adrenal glands are your fight or flight glands. If they’re overworked due to stress and being hyper-alert, they can become too fatigued to do their job.
The second thing is looking at how much trauma you have had in your life. Childhood traumas, illnesses, family problems, can all be extremely traumatic. Take a look at your life as a whole and what has led you to the point of being fatigued. The adrenal glands are like your batteries. They keep you going. If they are on hyperdrive all the time from traumatic experiences, they become worn out and need a reset.
Mitochondrial fatigue contributes to why we tend to slow down with age. We have mitochondria in every one of our cells. They take in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and turn them into energy. As we age, our mitochondria tend to malfunction due to toxins and chemicals that we put into our bodies via food and environment. Keeping your mitochondria healthy is key to keeping your energy levels up and maintaining your youth.
The third thing I look for is whether your body is fighting chronic infection. This could be viral, bacterial, or fungal. If your body spends all its energy fighting off an infection, then you’ll start to become fatigued from trying to deal with these viruses.
MYTH #2: YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
I know a lot of people who are still fatigued even though they get 8 to 12 hours of sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping, look at your routine. Set a routine for when you go to bed and wake up. This is absolutely key to keeping your body healthy and functioning.
Another big issue that relates to fatigue is blood sugar. A lot of us will get a sweet tooth at night and we’ll eat a sweet treat. This shoots our blood sugar up, and we’re going to get a crash in the blood sugar overnight. Oftentimes that will wake us up too early and result in fatigue for the rest of the day.
Mineral deficiency is another factor in not being able to sleep. Magnesium is the most commonly deficient mineral in all of the mineral categories. It is key for relaxing muscles, helping us to relax, and also key for a lot of chemical processes that happen in the body for us to make energy. If you have puffiness or darkness underneath your eyes, this can be a sign of mineral deficiency.
MYTH #3: YOU’RE NOT EATING ENOUGH
While not getting enough to eat is a possibility, it is more likely that you’re not eating enough protein to keep your blood sugar balanced. It could also be that you’re not digesting your food. Many of us are too busy to eat slowly. We tend to eat big chunks of food that are difficult for the body to break down. If your body struggles to break down food, you’re going to be tired. Consider a digestive enzyme supplement that has hydrochloric acid or consider trying probiotics to aid in digestion.
Click here for my guide on using hydrochloric acid to help you digest food better!
MYTH #4: YOU’RE GETTING OLD
The main message to take away from this blog is that age does not mean fatigue! If you’re constantly fatigued, it really means that you’re not taking in proper food, you’re letting toxins into your body, and you’re not managing your stress well.
Stress will kill us faster than anything else. This is because of cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that wakes us up and puts us to sleep, but it also gets pumped into the body when we are stressed.
If you find that you encounter certain stressors every single day to the point that you have anxiety, jitters, confusion- these are signs of high cortisol. Drastic ups and downs throughout the day can cause us to become quite fatigued and wear the body out.
MYTH #5: YOU’RE DEPRESSED
Many people suffer from depression. Oftentimes when someone is depressed it’s because their neurochemicals are deficient. Some people live their whole lives with deficient neurotransmitters. This is usually because of a mutation called MTHFR. This mutation doesn’t allow you to process synthetic folic acid. Synthetic folic acid is present in processed foods and even milk. Some people cannot process synthetic folic acid and instead need folate, the natural form of folic acid. We use folate to make new cells and to help us in the process of recycling vitamin B12 in the body. We use B vitamins to help us to make our neurochemicals.
Epinephrine and norepinephrine are neurochemicals that can be extremely high in those who are chronically stressed. If the body is pushing to make epinephrine and norepinephrine, most of the time it skips over making sufficient amounts of serotonin, which is the chemical that keeps you happy. This is why stress and fatigue are often present at the same time.
With all that said, it is not the case that depression always causes fatigue or that fatigue always causes depression. Sometimes fatigue and depression are independent of each other.
MYTH #6: YOU’RE TIRED BECAUSE YOU’RE BORED
This is usually never the case. A lot of people think that they are bored, so they start yawning or feeling lethargic. Sometimes your fatigue has to do with your diet rather than being bored.
We tend to rely on carbohydrate-heavy breakfasts like bagels, scones, and granola bars to start the day. These foods are going to spike your blood sugar. If you’re stressed and you eat carbohydrates in the morning, you’re going to spike your blood sugar and then have a crash later. You need good fat and protein to help keep your energy levels up. Keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day by having healthy snacks. Take a break and get a snack that is high in good fat or protein during the times of day that you normally crash.
Blood sugar and cortisol go hand in hand. Make sure that you are topping off your tank throughout the day and eating every 3-4 hours. Doing so is going to help you to prevent fatigue.
FIGHT FATIGUE, FIGHT AGING
To slow down the aging process, you have to combat fatigue. Follow the above tips to fight fatigue and you will also improve your outward appearance. The better your cells are at producing energy, the better they are at keeping levels of elastin and collagen up so that you’re not getting wrinkles and lines. This keeps you looking young!
Work on preventing or managing your fatigue. Set routines, optimize your digestion, detoxify your body, and get your cortisol and blood sugar in check. This will help you to ultimately get the energy levels you desire, keep you healthy, and slow down the process of aging.
Want to know more about fatigue? This blog is a summary of one of my podcasts dedicating to fatigue.
Click here to listen to the podcast now!