What is fatigue?
Fatigue is constant and lingering tiredness that you cannot shake – not even with that second cup of coffee. The exhaustion that comes with fatigue is often persistent, relapses, and is unexplained. There are many causes for fatigue, here are a few reasons that that afternoon slump never really goes away.
An allergy flare-up can cause extreme fatigue as well as brain fog. Many people with allergies describe it as a fuzzy or hazy tired feeling and are not able to concentrate. According to Mark Aronica, MD an allergist and immunologist at Cleveland Clinic, “People with allergies experience inflammation,” he says. “That inflammation leads to a congested nose, disrupted sleep patterns, and not getting good rest.”
Herbs and supplements to reduce fatigue caused by allergies:
Adrenal fatigue, also known as adrenal insufficiency, can be a source of extreme fatigue. Adrenal glands are what our body relies on to monitor our “fight or flight” response. When we have stressed our adrenal glands release adrenaline, making us more alert and focused. Our bodies also release a stress hormone known as cortisol which converts protein and stored sugar (glycogen) to energy. Prolonged stress can cause an imbalance in the adrenal gland functions and cause many symptoms such as weight gain, insomnia, fuzzy thinking, depression, cravings, and mood swings.
Supplements and herbs for adrenal insufficiency include:
- Vitamins B-5, B-6, and B-12
- Licorice root
- Maca root
- Golden root
- Holy basil
- Siberian ginseng
- A combination adrenal health formula
Anemia is a blood condition that means you don’t have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin. There are many causes for this including hemorrhoids, GI issues, iron deficiency, and kidney disease. Approx. 5.6% of Americans are affected by anemia, particularly women in the childbearing years – especially those with heavy menstruation, uterine fibroid tumors, or uterine polyps. Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, feeling cold, and irritability.
Supplements for anemia include:
- Vitamin B-12
- Folate or folic acid
- Vitamin C
Supplements suggested for mitochondrial dysfunction include:
- Vitamins C, D, and E
- A-lipoic acid
Depression or Anxiety
Depression or anxiety, including postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder, can be the root cause of fatigue that doesn’t go away. Depression can make you lose interest in normal activities, keep you in a depressed mood, cause you to change your sleeping and eating habits. It can also cause you to feel fatigued most of the day. Also, anxiety can cause sleeping difficulties, agitation, excessive worrying ad an impending sense of doom. Fatigue is common as you may feel so alert most of the time, it exhausts your body, mind, and spirit.
Herbs and supplements for depression and anxiety fatigue:
- SAMe or S-adenosyl methionine
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Holy basil
One of the symptoms of fibromyalgia is chronic fatigue, in addition to deep muscle pain, tender points, sleep issues, depression, and anxiety. The fatigue experienced with fibromyalgia can be quite severe and interfere with everyday life. Some people can find that no matter how much rest or sleep they get, they are still in a “fibro fog” which is characterized as a hazy, mental feeling that causes difficulty concentrating.
Herbs and supplements for fatigue caused by fibromyalgia:
- SAMe or S-adenosyl methionine
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B-12
- Capsaicin cream
Food allergies and intolerances
Fatigue can be a first symptom that you may have a food intolerance or allergy you are not aware of. In particular, celiac disease (unable to digest gluten) causes fatigue. Often an elimination diet can help pinpoint what is causing your intolerance or allergy so you can identify and stop the symptoms that result from consuming certain foods.
Other causes of fatigue can include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sleep apnea
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
Ways to boost your energy
Keep stress in check
Stress depletes your adrenals and takes huge amounts of energy from your body. Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation. Take adaptogens to keep your adrenals balanced.
Don’t overwork yourself
Keep your obligations and priorities well-balanced. Overworking whether professionally or for your family can keep you overworked and eventually your energy levels will suffer. Restorative self-care practices that you enjoy and help you recharge are recommended.
Exercise does the body well, but can also do wonders for your energy levels. Exercise circulates oxygen, gives your cells energy to burn, helps with sleep, and can elevate your mood with brain dopamine increases.
Smoking isn’t just bad for your health, it will steal your energy. It can increase insomnia, speed up the heart rate, and raise blood pressure.
Adding foods to your diet with a low glycemic index (these foods sugars are slowly absorbed) – can help you to keep your energy levels balanced. These foods include whole grains, high-fiber vegetables, healthy oils, and nuts.
Caffeine but not too much
In moderation, a cup of coffee or tea can increase alertness and help give you a boost of energy. However, it can also cause insomnia – so use wisely.
Reach for a mocktail
Want to enjoy a cocktail during the day? If you are on vacation why not? If not, you can experience the old afternoon slump, as it can zap your energy. The same goes for that dinner cocktail. Drink alcohol in moderation if you want to keep your energy levels up, otherwise cheers!
We hear this so often, but it is so true. If you are feeling fatigued, replenish the water in your body.
Fatigue, brain fog, slow digestion, and feeling down can all be attributed to diet. Clean eating for energy can be your ticket to more energy in your body, mind, and spirit. Whole foods, with little sugar and nutritionally charged ingredients, can make a difference in your day-to-day life including your energy levels.
Energy Bars using Superfoods
While many granola or energy bars out there may boast that they are “healthy” most have unwanted added sugars and preservatives. Look for energy bars sweetened with fruits like dates, dried fruit, or brown rice syrup. They should contain good fats such as nuts, seeds, or coconut oil. Added superfoods such as spirulina, raw plant proteins, turmeric, ginger, and other spices are a plus. Energy bars as a snack are a great way for a pick-me-up during the day, just make sure that it won’t send you into a blood sugar slump instead of energizing you.
Nootropics for brain energy
Nootropics are simply compounds that support optimized cognitive function. Productivity, focus, and thinking all get a boost. Memory, motivation, and mood are also elevated. Nootropics are any type of food or compound that can improve mental abilities. By creating bursts of energy with brain-supportive nootropics that don’t end up with the crash that you ultimately experience with other stimulates, like coffee or energy drinks.
The brain uses up to 20% of the body’s total energy, more than any other organ in the human body. According to a study done in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, “two-thirds of the brain’s energy budget is used to help neurons or nerve cells “fire” or send signals and the third is used for cell-health maintenance”.
Natural nootropics include
L-Tyrosine – Converts excitatory catecholamine neurotransmitters natural
B Vitamins – Vitamins B6 and B12 help improve circulation, including in the brain. B vitamins are required by your body to produce energy from your diet, as well as supporting normal brain function.
Panax Ginseng – Used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, for all kinds of health conditions as well as improving memory and reducing fatigue.
Gingko Biloba – This herb also has been used in TCM for thousands of years and is used traditionally for mental clarity, improved circulation, memory recall, and increased serotonin secretion.
Foods That Deplete Energy
Also, limit or eat in moderation the following foods, as they will zap your energy and leave you feeling more fatigued than you began:
- Simple carbohydrates
- Flavored Coffee
- Processed Foods
- Fast Food
- Vegetable Oils – Corn and Soy