Do you have the energy to go about daily tasks and do things you enjoy? This is the minimum requirement for a good quality of life.
I suffered from chronic fatigue for nearly 2 years. I know what it is like to force myself out of bed and try to drag myself through each day. Every task seemed like a monumental chore. This included things that I used to enjoy like working out or going for a hike.
If you have ever suffered from bouts of fatigue you will know exactly what I am talking about. If not, let me assure you: constantly being tired and having no energy is no fun at all!
What makes it worse is that often the people around you start to question you. Your friends and family think you are making things up or exaggerating. And even when you go to seek professional help they can’t find anything wrong and think it is all in your head.
The Truth About Fatigue
Do you suffer from fatigue?
Do you lack the energy to be able to do the things you enjoy?
Want to solve your fatigue issues and regain your health?
I want you to know that there are things you can do to get your life back. It’s not always easy, but there are choices you can make that will help you solve your fatigue and regain your energy!
There are lots of medical conditions that have fatigue listed as a symptom, but regardless of the disease or the condition, it all boils down to producing energy at a cellular level. If you cannot efficiently produce energy you will be tired and fatigued!!!
I am not a doctor and I don’t diagnose or treat disease. However, I do know that nutrition, sleep, and exercise have a profound effect on your body. When these are used in the right combination most people regain control of their health.
In this article, I am going to briefly talk about at how the body produces energy and then I’ll also discuss some nutritional concepts for recovering from fatigue.
A Scientific View
If you hate science just bare with me for the next three paragraphs. I find that people make better choices when they understand how the body works so it is going to get a little wordy!
Our body uses energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a molecule that transports chemical energy to where it is required by the body. Under the instruction of specific enzymes, energy is released from ATP to be used for all bodily processes.
ATP gets produced in our cells by mitochondria. For this reason, mitochondria can be considered as our body’s powerhouses. Sugar (carbs), fatty acids (fat), and amino acids (protein) are converted into Co-Enzyme A which then enters something called the citric acid cycle (CAC).
The CAC is an eight step process which produces another set of molecules that then move onto the electron transfer chain. This is the final step in the process where the substrates from the CAC get converted into ATP
Most importantly, inefficiencies in this process lead to reduced ATP production which we feel as tiredness or fatigue. Your condition is irrelevant, increasing efficiency in this process will lead to better energy.
Supporting the Body’s Energy Cycle
Your body does a tremendous amount of work without you having to think about it. It keeps your heart beating, digests food, makes hormones and controls breathing without conscious thought. Each of these processes requires energy from ATP. These basic functions are your body’s priority and they must be supplied with energy before you have any left to hit the gym or play with your kids.
Macronutrients and Micronutrients
From a nutritional perspective, you need the following to efficiently produce energy: The macronutrients carbohydrates, fats, and protein are used as fuel for the CAC. The micronutrients vitamins and minerals are required by enzymes to make the CAC run. It can be helpful to think of the body as a car. Macronutrients represent the gas and micronutrients represent the oil.
A car needs gas and oil to run properly. If you run out of gas then the car quickly stops working. Put more gas in the tank and it starts working again without much lasting damage. Things are a little different with oil. When your car gets low on oil it still runs, but it starts to lose efficiency. If oil gets too low then the whole engine can seize up, which leads to an expensive repair job.
The human body is a little more complex than a car, but if you don’t eat enough calories from macronutrients then you get tired and fatigued very quickly. If this is the only problem, as soon as you start eating again you feel better and there is no lasting damage.
The Perfect Formula for You
The exact amount of carbohydrates, fats, and protein is going to vary from person to person because everyone has an ideal fuel mix. One of the tricks to solving fatigue is to figure out exactly what your ideal fuel mix is. Something we know for sure is that you need to be eating your macronutrients from sources that don’t cause inflammation or add to your toxic burden.
When it comes to micronutrients, your body is a lot smarter than a car. Your body has an unbelievable capacity to compensate for not receiving optimal levels of vitamins and minerals. However, over time vitamin and mineral deficiencies lead to reduced performance, which you feel as “symptoms” like fatigue.
Many people don’t see this as a problem and chalk it up to getting older. Eventually, the symptoms mount up and people get sick. It’s normally only when people get really sick that they start to take notice. You can guarantee the problem has been building up over time.
All bodily processes are enzyme dependent. Enzymes require vitamins and minerals to function. When you do not eat enough vitamins and minerals, enzymes will not be able to do their job properly!!!
The Right Diet for Optimal Performance
This is why we need to eat a diet based on real food and not processed foods. We need energy from calories but we also need sufficient vitamins and minerals. Any food that isn’t adding to your reservoir of micronutrients is stealing from it. Meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts will generally add to your reservoir. Processed foods like breads, cookies, pastries and pasta will generally use more nutrients for processing than they give you and hence steal from your reservoir! Less micronutrients equals less efficient enzyme function, which equals less energy.
Be Mindful of Your Digestive Health
To complicate things further, hidden blocking factors also drain your pool of resources. For example, a poorly functioning digestive system won’t allow you to absorb all the nutrients you eat.
Exposure to environmental toxicity also falls into this category. Trying to clean up toxicity drains your vitamins and minerals, leaving less left over to turn the cogs of the CAC. It should go without saying that a combination of both is a recipe for fatigue disaster.
This is why in addition to eating properly, many people also need to take specific action steps to improve both of these areas.
In the end, it all comes down to balance. If you are eating, digesting and absorbing enough nutrients, your body will produce an abundance energy for you so that you may enjoy life. On the other hand, if you have multiple blocking factors, energy production suffers and you will feel exhausted.
By using functional laboratory tests we can identify blocking factors. You can also pinpoint precise vitamin and mineral deficiencies that are impeding your energy production cycle from working.
Identifying blocking factors and getting your body using nutrients efficiently can be a complicated process. Luckily, with the right guidance, it is possible!
Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo
Rich Jacobs is a Board Certified Integrative and Functional Nutrition Practitioner who specializes in resolving gut, insomnia, low libido, fatigue and fat issues. He uses a holistic approach and functional lab work to identify root causes such as hormone imbalances or gut pathogens that could be impacting your health.