Bottom Line in Natural Fatigue Treatment
- Get tested for food allergies
- Try a low glycemic eating plan
- Get assessed for low thyroid and thyroid hormone resistance
- Get tested for adrenal fatigue
- Be physically active
- Get tested for chemical toxicity
- Address sleep issues
The most common cause of fatigue that I see in my practice by far is diet. Diet can cause fatigue in a variety of ways. The most common is from eating too many high glycemic foods. High glycemic foods cause the blood sugar to spike because they either contain too much sugar or they are rapidly converted to sugar by the body. This includes grains and potatoes in addition to most sugars. On the glycemic index scale, which goes from 0 to 100 (with 100 equal to pure sugar), white bread is a 95 and baked potato is a 90. For all practical purposes, these foods are the same as sugar to your body. Even whole-grain breads, however, are about 80, which is still high. Low glycemic foods include proteins, like beans, nuts, soy, dairy, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, and even most fruits which contain a different type of sugar than most other foods.
The human body didn’t evolve with high glycemic foods in our diet – that came with agriculture. As a result, our bodies are not equipped to handle these kinds of foods. Eating too many of these foods can eventually result in insulin resistance, which then prevents the sugar in the blood from getting into the cell where the mitochondria turn them into energy. Fatigue is therefore a very common effect of eating too many of these high glycemic foods, as is depression, weight gain, and hypoglycemia.
Food Allergies in Natural Fatigue Treatment
Another common dietary cause of fatigue is food allergies. While most people think of a food allergy as an immediate reaction to peanuts or strawberries resulting in difficulty breathing, a far more common reaction is delayed and more insidious. It can take the form of asthma, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, ear infections, sinusitis, irritable bowel, inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, obesity, post nasal drip, and other conditions. Most people with this type of delayed allergy are unaware they are allergic. The most common allergens are dairy, eggs, and gluten- a protein found in wheat and other grains. Other common allergens include corn, soy, yeast, beans, peanuts, and almonds. There are many different options when it comes to diagnosing food allergies. The best is a blood antibody test, which is more accurate for this type of allergy than a skin prick test.
Thyroid and Adrenals in Natural Fatigue Treatment
Hormonal causes of fatigue are also fairly common. People with low thyroid function have a low body temperature and are often tired, depressed, constipated, and overweight. People with low adrenal function are generally tired, they may have mood problems, and they often suffer from allergies and inflammation. Both of these conditions can be diagnosed by checking hormone levels. Adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for the proper function of the body’s mitochondria. Mitochondria are the power plants in our cells that produce our energy. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a common cause of fatigue. Sometimes thyroid problems will show up on standard thyroid tests, and sometimes they won’t. One of the possible explanations for this is that some people appear to be able to develop a resistance to thyroid hormone. It has been well documented that it is possible to develop resistance to other hormones- insulin resistance, for example, is what causes adult-onset diabetes. In the case of thyroid hormone resistance, cells in the body don’t respond properly to the normal levels of thyroid hormone that are present in the blood. This presents with the symptoms of low thyroid hormone. There is no test that is capable of identifying thyroid hormone resistance. Treatment for this condition is generally a clinical trial of thyroid hormone under the careful guidance of a physician.
Chemical Toxicity in Fatigue
Chemical toxicity is pervasive in our modern world. In a 2004 study performed by the Environmental Working Group, 10 newborn babies were checked for levels of 413 toxic chemicals. An average of 200 toxic chemicals was found in these babies, which get passed to them through cord blood from their mothers. Because many of these toxic chemicals damage the mitochondria that produce our energy, fatigue, low body temperature, weight gain, depression, allergies, headaches, and/or chronic pain often result. If you have some of these symptoms and you have chemical sensitivities to things like cleaners, paints, perfumes, or car exhaust, you may be chemically toxic. A variety of tests are now available to test for chemical toxicity, including:
- DNA oxidative damage (8-hydroxy deoxyguanosine) – a screening test for chemical toxicity
- Glutathione – the most important intracellular antioxidant and detoxifier
- Methylation – another important detoxification system
- Genetic testing – Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are common variations in the human genome that can impair multiple detoxification pathways
- Chemical testing – many chemicals, such as solvents, pesticides, preservatives, plasticizers, hormone-disrupting agents (such as BPA), and others can now be tested in the blood and urine
If it is determined that you do have chemical toxicity, a detoxification program should include dietary modification, sweating, reducing ongoing chemical exposure, glutathione and methylation support, and detoxifying herbs such as milk thistle, turmeric, and green tea.