How to battle chronic fatigue?

Chronic fatigue, which affects more women than men, can have several roots. Thyroid issues, iron deficiency, sleep quality, and insulin resistance can be some of the root causes.
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Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating condition, which is characterised by several periods of deep tiredness, which can also get worse if someone attempts to exercise. It can impact one's life. More women seem to struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome worldwide than men.

Symptoms of chronic fatigue can include excessive tiredness, lack of energy even after sleep, symptoms that get worse after movement or exercise, accompanying pain in the joints, mental fatigue, lack of motivation, and low mood.

The functional medicine approach can be very different, where rather than the diagnosis, we look at the root causes driving the symptoms within each individual specifically. This also takes away the label and feeling overwhelmed and helpless after the diagnosis.

What are the reasons for chronic fatigue?

Mitochondria dysfunction is linked to everything. Chronic fatigue can have several roots and it may require thinking deeply about each of them to see where they might be missing something key.

·     Thyroid issues are of course at the top. Maybe you do not have the right medication dosage and timing, which is causing energy slumps despite all that you are doing. However, this is a tricky area to navigate with nuances, as hypothyroidism is usually linked with fatigue even though there could be other reasons for fatigue.

·      Iron deficiency mimics several of the symptoms of chronic fatigue and hypothyroidism. These three share a close relationship, and if that is the case, the work must begin with correcting iron deficiency first. Since Iron plays a vital role in carrying oxygen throughout the body, it is a critical mineral. It transports oxygen from the lungs to tissues, and the return of carbon dioxide from the tissues back to your lungs. Without iron, energy production is severely impaired, and chronic fatigue and exhaustion can occur.

·      Adrenal challenges can be involved, but observe if you are always exhausted, even upon waking up. If you feel fairly revived after a good night’s sleep and can fall asleep easily, this may not be the case. That said, adding some adrenal supportive nutrients like ashwagandha or tulsi can help.

·      Sleep quality plays a big role in fatigue. Timing, quantity, and quality all go into transforming your body. If you do indeed wake up feeling revived, them the problem probably does not lie with sleep.

·      Blood sugar imbalance and insulin resistance play a big role in energy production. It may still require focusing on bringing this much more to a state of balance to feel improvement in overall energy. Protein optimisation is linked to stabilising blood sugar and improving energy, and most of us are having suboptimal amounts of it.

·      Leaky gut can be a reason as well. Given that chronic fatigue might be linked to autoimmune challenges, it may require a longer time focusing on the gut. Gut repair is a practitioner’s job and must be done the right way, at the right time, with the right nutrients. However, a great way to keep your gut health is not to eat too often. Eating frequently can prevent the gut mucosa from repairing itself, and the dangers of the two hourly diets are valid. 

How can you address chronic fatigue?

When there are so many roots to fatigue, it may be confusing as to where to begin. Keep in mind that you should only tease them apart slowly one by one without adding undue stress on yourself. It also matters noticing the timing where you feel fatigue and then adding the right nutrients or tools.

·      Protein is still priority. If you find an energy slump at a particular time every day, adding a quality protein an hour before that happens can be very helpful. If energy is low in the afternoon, having a protein shake full of antioxidants can be transforming. Aim for ample protein at every meal, especially breakfast, to stabilise blood sugar and support adrenal health.

·      Vegetable juices can also be very nutrient dense forms of hydration. Using ingredients with natural salts like celery can support adrenal recovery post exercise and help you feel more stable in energy. Green tea can also be very helpful with this level of fatigue. Kapha body types do have a tendency for fatigue. Green tea can help to combat. Combining tulsi and green tea and being regular with it twice a day may be very helpful.

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·      Lack of exercise is linked with chronic fatigue, as it is a tricky loop. Starting exercise when fatigued can be further depleting. However, the right form of exercise is key. The idea is to include exercise which improves oxygenation tremendously without requiring much of your resources to attempt. Inverted poses in a gentle yoga class are wonderful. Spending time in headstand and shoulder stand, if there are no contraindications like high blood pressure, can be transformational to energy. Look for a good teacher who can guide you through similar practices and observe your energy shift.

·      Check that you have optimal iron levels at all times. Poor gut health, low stomach acid, and low iron intake can all be the problem. To have targeted improvement in iron, it requires improvement of gut health, increasing stomach acid, and having adequate iron foods. One of the signs of low stomach acid is not feeling hunger before a meal. This can also be due to weak digestion and overeating at the previous meal.

·      COQ10 is the mitochondria star. You can be deficient in it if you are on statins. If so, ask your nutritionist to recommend the right dose of COQ10, which can be 100-200 mg per day, based upon individual requirements.

Edited by Megha Reddy

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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