Fighting Fatigue

Do you feel tired continuously and in need of some extra energy?  Chances are you are fatigued. 

Fatigue is defined as more than just feeling sleepy; it’s an apparent lack of motivation and no energy. While most people go about their daily lives feeling tired and fatigued, do not assume it’s just a normal part of everyday life. 

Here’s a list of lifestyle factors which may help you fight fatigue:

Nutrient deficient – the prime culprits are Vitamin B (1,2,3,5,6,12), iron, and Vitamin D. A simple blood test will determine the level of these nutrients. 

Vitamin D is created from direct sunlight on the skin, although it may be obtained by sources of food, such as egg yolks, oily fish, red meat and fortified food as in breakfast cereals, it helps to keep bones and muscles healthy. 

Most Vitamin B nutrients play a role in releasing energy from food. Vitamin B12 can only be obtained in red meat or liver; it’s not found in fruit, vegetables or legumes, so vegans may need a supplement. 

Iron is essential for carrying oxygen around the body. It’s found in meat, dried fruit, dark green leafy vegetables. Lack of iron can lead to anaemia with a lack of energy being the main symptom.

Poor choice of foods – a balanced diet is important to maintain the correct function of your body. The average person requires 2000 calories every day. However, a person’s calorie intake depends on age, gender and physical activity. The source of your calories is more important than the number you consume. Without good nutrition your body is more susceptible to illnesses and fatigue. 

Plan to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, cut back on sugary refined foods and drink 2 litres of water.

Lack of Sleep – If you’re not getting the 7-9 hours of sleep required to recharge your batteries regularly then this can affect your whole body. 

Your body restores and heals itself during the night helping you to remember the next day. It’s more difficult to concentrate if you lack sleep and may increase your risk of accidents. Long term sleep deprivation increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes. 

Try to get into a routine during the evenings, refrain from heavy meals two hours before bedtime. Exercise, but not too late, and try to wake up at the same time every morning. Refer to the article for help with sleep called ‘tips for a better shut eye’.

Too much Caffeine – caffeine is usually used to fight fatiguecaffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ hormone and lowers the chemical adenosine that makes you feel tired. However, in high doses this can lead to anxiety with symptoms of nervousness and a rapid heartbeat. 

High doses, such as over 1,000mg per day (approximately 3 large coffees per day), can lead to insomnia. A study also found that the greater the coffee consumption the shorter the sleeping time. 

Increased amounts of Stress – If you keep firing your stress response in your body, this may cause symptoms such as anxiety, headaches, insomnia, irritability and depression. The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol increase your blood pressure, which allows blood flow to your heart, muscles, and other organs, ready for the ‘fight or flight’ response. 

If you do not allow your central nervous system to rest and then go back to normal, the response continues. This over-stimulation affects respiratory and cardiovascular health. Under stress, your liver will produce extra blood sugar to boost energy, which may lead to type 2 diabetes if this excess glucose is not controlled. 

An increase in muscle tension might also lead to muscle fatigue over time, and symptoms of RSI (repetitive strain injury) may develop.

Get Regular Exercise – During exercise, endorphins are released that boost energy levels. This can also lead to a better night’s sleep. A study found that over 6 weeks of exercise a group of previously sedentary young adults with fatigue had a favourable outcome with low-intensity exercise and a positive change in energy. 

Try and get into a routine of 30 mins exercise 2 to 3 times a week, perhaps even find a work-out buddy or hire a personal trainer. The effort will pay dividends.

Many medical conditions cause fatigue, so if you have followed a healthy-nutritional diet and exercise plan and fatigue has not been resolved, then it’s time to consult your medical practitioner. They will help diagnose the cause.