Food and fatigue go hand-in-hand. While some foods can cause fatigue, others can be the remedy. Food can either be a slow-acting poison or an incredibly healing medicine,
so choose wisely.
What Causes Fatigue?
“Tiredness is our body’s way of telling us that something is out of balance. It’s often a result of allowing ourselves to get into a vicious cycle with stress, eating badly, and not sleeping enough,” says clinical nutritionist and co-owner of Evolution Café, Nicola Bentley.
Tiredness is never fun, but it can usually be turned around quite quickly, with a little effort. As for fatigue, well that’s a whole different creature.
There are many reasons for consistent exhaustion. A silted up system is a common one. Integrative medicine and Ayurvedic nutritionist, and co-owner of Evolution Café, Nepheritie Naidoo, says: “When our bodies are toxic, this puts a strain on our major organs. Tiredness and fatigue are usually the first tell-tale signs.
Toxicity can be exceptionally draining on the body and could be an early warning sign for a whole host of medical conditions. If you’ve never embarked upon a proper detox, chances are your system is in need of a good clean-out.”
Simply drinking more water and adding in fresh fibrous vegetables is enough to escort a whole host of toxins out of the body.
Lack of quality sleep is an obvious factor in exhaustion, but there are many others. Anemia is a common issue, as is insulin resistance. Candida can easily fatten you, as well as an underactive thyroid. And then, of course, you have adrenal fatigue, the fast-growing 21st-century syndrome.
What Triggers Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is something far beyond basic tiredness. This syndrome is brought on by a combination of factors that sap your resources dry. Consistent stress, fast food, and lack of sleep will eventually take a toll on these tiny glands. There are only so many stress hormones an adrenal gland can produce without rest before it holds up the white flag.
“Drinking coffee on an empty stomach and using it as a way to give you a burst of energy will lead to a bigger drop-down in energy,” Bentley reminds us. “ It will have an adverse effect on your adrenals and could lead to adrenal fatigue.”
Food also has a big role to play. Eating refined foods every day, while ignoring the good stuff, is also enough to tip busy adrenals over the edge.
A diet rich in protein, essential fats, minerals, and vitamin C is necessary to fuel your anti-stress glands.
Candida is a mischievous little fungus. It has a nasty habit of devouring your nutrients while pooping toxins into your system. It also triggers a strong craving for sugar and simple carbohydrates. A low-carb lifestyle can help to eliminate this invader and increase your energy levels. Foods such as coconut products and oregano both have natural anti-candida qualities.
Regulate Energy Levels
Your thyroid literally regulates your energy levels. It does this by constantly refining the speed of your metabolic functions. If, for some reason, the thyroid becomes tired and slows down, so do your energy levels and your general ability to function. The thyroid needs a good mineral supply to function, especially iodine. This can be found in seaweed and fish. It also needs selenium, which is most abundant in Brazil nuts.
The most common thyroid disorder is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In a classic case of mistaken identity, the immune system confuses a protein found in the thyroid with gluten and proceeds to attack the harmful invader, in addition to the thyroid tissue. Cutting out gluten is a priority in reversing Hashimoto’s. Interestingly, iodine actually aggravates Hashimoto’s, so it’s important to avoid seafood and seaweed in this case.
Anemia is another common cause of fatigue. However, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t necessarily a product of low meat consumption. There are four possible causes of anaemia. It can be a deficiency in iron, low vitamin B12, low folate, or a result of a disrupted intestinal flora.
Change to a Low-Carb Diet
Insulin resistance is a good reason for changing to a low-carb diet. Bentley says: “Skipping meals and not eating regularly also wreak havoc with your blood sugar and hormone production.” Insulin resistance occurs when the body is struggling to balance glucose and insulin. It leads to constant exhaustion and hunger and is the precursor to Type-2 diabetes. With fluctuating glucose, one is often driven to crave fast foods, which not only make the situation worse but could have been the initial cause. The key here is stabilizing your blood sugar levels.
Like a downward spiral, these common causes of fatigue can easily lead to one another, which is why the solutions are quite similar.
Eat At Regular Intervals To Stabilize Your Blood Sugar
Research shows that eating at regular intervals helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, which assists in improving mental and physical energy.
Smith suggests: “Managing blood sugar on a day-to-day basis is essential. When people are tired, they tend to crave carbohydrates and quick- x foods (starchy meals, pastries, breads, sweets, sugary beverages, and alcohol, which take you up briefly and then plummet you down hard. Low-GI is important, as proteins take longer to break down in the system, providing more sustained energy throughout the day. Start regulating meals and eating protein snacks like nuts, to manage the blood sugar and prevent that dip.”
Include These Fatigue Fighting Foods In Your Diet
“Opting for more nutrient-dense foods is key to sustainable energy levels. Make sure you have lots of colour on your plate – natural colour: leafy greens, fresh veggies, and fruits,” suggests Naidoo.
Good fats and protein
Good fats and protein are needed to make all hormones, including stress hormones, thyroid hormones, and insulin. The best sources of healthy cholesterol are found in coconut oil, avocados, eggs, butter, hemp oil, and bone broth. As for protein, just about every plant contains protein, as do animal products, but protein cannot be absorbed without fat. Therefore, the best sources would be avocados, olives, hemp seeds, spirulina, eggs, fish, and grass-fed meat. “You don’t want to eat anything that has synthetic hormones pumped into it. Go for organic,” suggests nutritionist Daniella Smith.
Vitamin C is needed for making all our steroid hormones, as well as for our immune system; therefore, it has a major role in keeping our energy levels perky. The best sources of vitamin C are broccoli, organic red peppers, lemons, pomegranate, and camu camu berry powder.
We all need iron to oxygenate our brain and body. A good iron boost will come in the form of dark green leafy vegetables, spirulina, eggs, and organic liver.
A vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common, and the latest solution kills two birds with one stone. Today, we now know that B12 is made from bacteria. Therefore, adding properly fermented foods, such as sauerkraut or kimchi, into your diet first gives you an instant B12 inoculation and, secondly, repopulates your gut with essential flora needed for you to produce your own vitamin B12. Fermented foods also help you to absorb nutrients and kick out toxins. Other B12 food sources include mackerel, sardines, oysters, organic yogurt, and organic liver.
Folate (vitamin B9) is not only needed for red blood cell production, heart health, and reproductive health, but it also has a crucial role in the brain. It is essential for our brain chemistry; it has a close relationship with dopamine, serotonin, and GABA production for focused, calm, upbeat mental energy. Folate comes from the Latin word meaning “leaf ”. Spinach and other dark green leaves are a big source, as are broccoli, chickpeas, and green beans.
Minerals are necessary for every electrical and chemical reaction in the body. They are also in charge of alkalising our pH, and tired bodies are usually too acidic. The best mineral sources are dark green leaves, spirulina, and seaweed.
“Food can either be a slow-acting poison or an incredibly healing medicine, so choose wisely,” suggests Bentley. No matter how hectic your schedule is, it’s always possible to upgrade your food. Today, we are spoiled for choice, so go on a treasure hunt and see what you can find; your energy levels will thank you.