Definition: abnormal tiredness and lack of energy;
mental and physical weakness; depression; lethargy
There are many possible causes of fatigue, including:
- Hypoglycemia (and resulting adrenal exhaustion)
- Stress (with nutritional and glandular reactions; made worse by stimulants such as sugar, cigarettes and coffee)
- Anaemia (possible shortages of iron, B12, folic acid, copper, vitamin C)
- Toxicity (from diet; pesticides; additives; drugs; pollution; cigarettes)
- Allergy (tends to be the things you feel you must have or can't do without)
- Glandular imbalance (thyroid etc)
- Poor elimination or digestion
- Low or high blood pressure
- Improper diet (excess saturated fats; excess refined carbohydrates; junk foods; overeating; inadequate fruit and vegetables; skipped breakfast; too much alcohol; excess animal protein or on the other hand a protein deficiency)
- Lack of demanding exercise
- Birth control pill
- Lack of sleep
- Sedentary occupation
- Heavy metal poisoning, including from fillings
- Shallow breathing
Stress & Fatigue
What does stress have to do with fatigue? Plenty. Neuroscientists at the University of Virginia have studied the relationship between stress and glucose. During times of stress, glucose is released by the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Excess glucose stimulates the fat enzyme, lipoprotein lipase. This results in excess stored body fat. Also, during stress the body craves very high fat, high glycemic (high in quickly absorbed sugars) foods in order to balance out anti-stress chemicals.
In the West, consumption of high calorie, high glycemic, nutrient-deficient, high fat foods is the norm. High glucose levels in the blood are counteracted by insulin, resulting in a 'blood-sugar low', causing tiredness and hour or two after meals. And if stress is continuous, this condition can come on at any time, and may eventually lead to adult-onset hypo-glycemia. Moderating consumption of high glycemic foods not only reduces your chances of developing diabetes, it also reduces stored body fat and helps keep energy levels high.
A combination of factors account for the increase in incidence of hypoglycemia. They include:
- Incorrect ratios of proteins/carbobydrates/fats in our diet
- Deficit of adequate nutrients and minerals (due to over processed soil and foods)
- Overabundance of high glycemic foods
- Lack of exercise
- Excess meat consumption
- Excess dietary fat consumption
- Over consumption of 'empty calorie' foods
High Blood Pressure
Stress increases blood pressure, as does too much saturated or hydrogenated fat in the diet. Coffee, sugar, tobacco and alcohol don't help either, neither does salt. Overweight is another important factor, and lack of exercise. An entirely vegetarian diet is the most straightforward way to reduce blood pressure. In terms of supplements, take plenty of B Complex, C, E, Niacin, Calcium and magnesium.
Hypotension is helped greatly by taking the amino acids L-tyrosine and L-phenylalanine. You also need enough iodine in the diet (such as from kelp). This is better than taking salt as salt has other negative side effects (affecting the sodium/potassium balance and mineral losses). As well as increasing blood pressure, this comination boosts the thyroid giving you more energy and mental alertness. The amino acids are taken (1g each) between meals, away from other proteins. It also helps to take an Amino Complex (1g) after meals. Improved adrenal function (see below) will enable decrease of blood pressure through the production of adrenaline and aldosterone, and antidiuretic hormone from the pituitary.
Stress is the biggest drain on vitamin and mineral resources, so you also need to take a daily (generous) multi supplement. Plus added vitamin C (several grams); 1g calcium, 500mg magnesium; and also 250 mg extra B5 (pantothenic acid) which is particularly drained by stress. And some essential fatty acids to complete the nutritional picture. Vitamins, etc. take months to replenish, so you need to stick with it.
Emotional stress combined with stress on the immune system would leave you succeptible to the ME phenomena (see below), which is really immune system failure. Recovering from ME is a matter of rebuilding strength through both emotional repair and moving to a diet that supports the extra nutritional drain that such stress causes, to reverse the dwindling spiral.
The less 'on the edge' you are, the more tolerant your systems will be to such factors as toxic trace elements (see Mercury Poisoning) and electro-magnetic pollution.
To help reduce emotional stress, I recommend the Releasing procedure, described in Transforming the Mind.
NOTE: Stress causes a type of hypoglycemia by depleting the adrenal glands which respond to any fear, anxiety, worry or similar emotion, as if they were emergency conditions. A wide range of physiological reactions are evoked to provide sufficient energy to meet this 'danger'. Eventually the adrenal glands become exhausted and, as vital energy reserves become taxed, fatigue results. Unlike true nutritional hypoglycemia, this does not necessarily occur just between meals, but may be more related to situations of stress or emotion. If this stress fatigue is coincident with a refined diet and especially if caffeine is regularly consumed, the hypoglycemic state may take on a totally unpredictable character.
Hypoglycemia is glucose intolerance, cause by the adrenals being worn out from constant stress and/or by too much sugar/stimulants/refined carbohydrates. To remedy this, the following is helpful:
Eat small, frequent meals, avoiding refined carbohydrates and eating complex carbohydrates and proteins which release energy slowly. Use a good multi- vitamin and mineral supplement like Solgar VM2000. Take additional calcium and magnesium in 3:2 ratio. Avoid fried food and hydrogenated fat, tea, coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, food additives. Drink filtered water and avoid aluminium utensils. Using digestive enzymes and acidopholus to improve digestion and colon health is also a good idea. Help yourself or get help with stress management.
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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) is basically a weakened immune system causing chronic weakness. To remedy this, in addition to the above, also supplement vitamin C, starting at 1g per day and building up to 3 or more grams - you will get slight diahhroea at the point of maximum absorption, at which point reduce the dose slightly. (Note: you need to maintain a mega-dose of vitamin C as abruptly reducing the dose can cause symptoms of C deficiency). Aloe Vera, Echinacea and garlic also help. If you still have problems, allergic reactions may be making the symptoms worse, in which case try cutting out wheat, then if that doesn't work after five days, try eliminating dairy produce. Also watch out for foods you have a craving for - the body has a strange way of desiring more of the foods to which it is intolerant (due to poor digestion or faulty absorption).
Many vitamin and mineral deficiencies are also related to lack of energy. So the supplements approach described above should help, along with improved diet.
Glutamine, the amino acid, may also be a valuable supplement in cases of fatigue. This form of blood sugar supplies brain energy, reduces muscle fatigue,and it also helps the colon to heal, reducing the symptoms of colitis and thereby reducing blood toxicity.
Meditation, deep breathing and relaxation exerciseswill help, as will the reduction of stress-inducing distorted thinking, again handled in the course. Getting good exercise and also regular massages also helps, and attention to any of the other factors listed above. So this is a broad based (and very common) problem that does require an holistic approach.
Taking frequent effective exercise is probably one of the best physical stress-reduction techniques available. Exercise not only improves your health and reduces stress caused by unfitness, it also relaxes tense muscles and helps you to sleep.
Exercise has a number of other positive benefits you may not be aware of:
- It improves blood flow to your brain, bringing additional energy and oxygen which may be needed when you are thinking intensely.
- When you think hard, the neurons of your brain function more intensely. As they do this they build up toxic waste products that cause foggy thinking in the short term, and can damage the brain in the long term. By exercising you speed the flow of blood through your brain, moving these waste products faster. You also improve this blood flow so that even when you are not exercising, waste is eliminated more efficiently.
- Exercise increases the release of chemicals called endorphins into your blood stream that give you a feeling of happiness and well-being, counter-acting the depression that fatigue may induce. Surprisingly, one feels much more energetic when taking regular exercise.
An over-strenuous approach to exercise may actually damage your body. Certainly one should enter gradually into an exercise regime and not cause strain on inflexible muscles and joints; so this is best done under the supervision of your doctor or a fitness professional, or at least a good book on the subject. The most important thing to remember is that exercise should be fun - if you don't enjoy it, then you will probably not keep doing it.
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