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It seems the ever present assumption... as you get older, you get more run down, more tired, more stressed, and there's really not much you can do about it. It's called "adulting" right?
Even I fell into this trap for a few years. It struck me early, hitting hardest in my early twenties. I constantly felt tired; I couldn't even fathom the idea of waking up without an alarm, let alone waking up feeling energized for the day ahead. I assumed, as many do, that it was just the ever growing list of responsibilities and stressors that comes with entering into adulthood.
I promise you, if you needed confirmation, here is the truth: it is not normal to feel tired all the time.
And if you are one of the millions who struggle with daily sluggishness and unwavering hatred for the alarm each morning, I also promise you, there is hope. I am living proof of it.
And to help you narrow down your solution, here are
5 likely culprits for your waning energy.
1. Food sensitivities.
Allow me to let you in on a little secret. One of the very first things I have all my clients do is get food sensitivity testing done. Undiagnosed food sensitivities can be the culprits behind not only your lack of energy, but your poor digestion, weight gain, acne, achey joints, acid reflux, low immunity, autoimmune disease, the list goes on and on.
When your body is forced to fight, day in and day out, as it is constantly bombarded with enemy foods, you are of course going to feel wiped out.
You might be asking, how could I be eating foods and not know I have a sensitivity or allergy to it? And the answer is twofold.
Number one, the symptoms of the sensitivity aren't showing up in forms you're familiar with. You might not need to run to the bathroom every time you eat gluten, but you might suffer from a foggy head, itchy skin, or, you guessed it, low energy.
Number two, if you are eating your allergy food regularly, your body is basically always on guard for it. Which helps to lessen the reaction, but which also depletes your energy and runs down your immune system.
Try completely removing foods you suspect a sensitivity to for 3 weeks, reintroduce it, and you will probably get a much more acute and severe response.
Solution: Get food sensitivity testing done, and/or follow an elimination diet like Whole30 (you can read my experience with it here) to find out how different foods are affecting you. And then, here's the kicker, eliminate those foods completely from your diet.
2. Poor digestion.
This one ties in with number one given that, if you are constantly eating foods you're allergic to, you are causing chronic inflammation in your gut.
But an unhappy gut isn't only caused by eating foods you're sensitive to. Eating highly processed foods, lots of sugar, other inflammatory foods like trans fats, aspartame, and food dyes, can wreak havoc on your digestive tract.
So why is your digestion so closely tied to your energy? Because when your digestion is under distress, you aren't able to absorb the nutrients in your food properly which is the very process by which your body creates energy.
Solution: Take care of your digestive system with unprocessed, high fiber foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
Eat fermented foods high in probiotics like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.
Other foods that also help support your digestive health include celery juice, pineapple, and bone broth.
And you can help keep your gut going strong with supplements like probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, L-glutamine, and collagen to name a few.
3. Thyroid dysfunction.
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly shaped gland in your neck responsible for secreting hormones that help to regulate your metabolism, mood, energy, digestion, development, and growth.
So basically, if your thyroid function goes down the tubes, so too does your health and your energy with it.
Anyone who has ever been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (where your thyroid is under active), knows the debilitating fatigue, cold hands, poor digestion, fuzzy memory, foggy head, skin problems, weight gain, and mood shifts that can ensue.
So if you feel like you eat well, have good digestion, get 7+ hours of sound sleep, and still find your energy wanting, it's time to go get your thyroid numbers tested.
Specifically request (because most doctors will not be this thorough and will not be able to see the full picture of your thyroid health) TSH, TPO antibodies, Thyroglobulin antibodies, Free T4, Free T3, and Reverse T3.
Solution: Unfortunately, the solution is not something I can write down in a few simple sentences on this blog post. I will definitely do future blogs on thyroid health as that is a very long journey I had to go on myself.
But in the meantime, I have 2 book recommendations for you to start on the right path:
Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause by Izabella Wentz (Hashimotos is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid, but even without hashimotos, this book is invaluable for thyroid health).
And Medical Medium: Thyroid Healing by Anthony William.
And for a list of the foods, herbs, and supplements I have found to be most helpful in the health of my thyroid and the improvement of my energy, download today's blog freebie below.
4. Lack of proper fuel.
Do not mistake this fact: every single thing you put in your body has an effect, good or bad. The food you eat can prevent or cause disease, can turn on and off genes, can improve or worsen your skin, digestion, mood, hormone balance, and yes, your energy.
If you struggle with energy, I'm going to guess you may be stuck in some variation of this common vicious cycle:
Start day with cereal, donut, bagel, or other carb-y breakfast food.
Feel your energy dip an hour or so later. Reach for a candy bar, vending machine snack, or other sugar laden item to give you a little kick.
Go about your day until lunch time. Eat something like a sandwich and chips, maybe if you're feeling extra healthy throw an apple in there.
3 o'clock slump, time for coffee with sugar and cream. Or the cookies your coworker brought in for her birthday.
Are we seeing a pattern? Yes, carbs (especially processed carbs) provide your body with the quickest source of energy. Hence the carb craving when you're tired. But they also provide you with the quickest energy crash as your blood sugar drops post-snack.
Solution? Stabilize your blood sugar (and therefore your energy), by making sure every meal and snack includes:
a complex carb packed with fiber and nutrients, as in fruits, veggies, and whole grains,
a healthy fat as in from nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados,
and a clean protein as in from chicken, fish, turkey, or plant based protein powder.
Some other important ways to fuel your body for greater energy are to never eat until the point of stuffed (digestion is tiring ya'll), eliminate processed foods, eat regular small meals through out the day so you don't let yourself get ravenous, and load up on energy producing fruits and veggies.
5. Lack of deep sleep.
I truly hope this one is obvious, but sometimes common sense is not common practice. If you are getting fewer than 7 hour of sleep each night and are wondering why you're dragging during the day, wonder no more.
Your body needs adequate rest to function properly. Your brain needs it, your body needs it, you need it. So do whatever you have to do, schedule your time better, watch less tv, delegate tasks better, simplify your life in whatever way you need to to log more shut eye.
The other possibility is you are getting enough hours, but you aren't getting into deep, restorative sleep.
Turn off all light producing devices at least an hour before bed.
Set your phone to switch from blue light to red light as the day turns to evening.
Make your room as dark as possible.
Keep your bedroom temperature between 63 and 68 degrees.
And finally take a warm bath or shower 30 minutes to an hour before bed.
Hopefully a point or two in this post resonated with you as a probable cause for your fatigue, and gave you some hope for a solution.
Remember, the body doesn't do anything on accident. If something about your existence is uncomfortable, be it your energy, mood, or any other physical or mental dis-ease, try to figure out what your body is trying to signal to you. Our bodies communicate with us constantly, it is our job to finally listen.
You may also like this post on meditation for increased energy.
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