We all tend to blame fatigue on a too-busy lifestyle, and much of the time we’re right. But if you feel tired all the time, and it is starting to impede in your life, don’t blow it off. Give yourself about 2 to 3 weeks to make some lifestyle changes.
Lack of sleep isn’t the only thing sapping your energy. Little things you do (and don’t do) can exhaust you both mentally and physically, which can make getting through your day a chore.
This condition remains puzzling because it has no known cause, and it causes a strong fatigue that comes on quickly. Sufferers feel too tired to carry on with their normal activities and are easily exhausted with little exertion. Some possible causes include immune disorders, nutrient deficiencies, food allergies, poor blood sugar control, stress and environmental toxins.
- Symptoms: headache, muscle and joint pain, weakness, tender lymph nodes, and an inability to concentrate.
- Tests: NONE. Your doctor must rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis, before making the diagnosis.
Top Foods for Chronic Fatigue
- Sea Vegetables – Seaweed or green/blue algae provide critical minerals for proper nutrition.
- Clean Lean Protein – Protein slows the absorption of glucose and balance blood sugar levels.
- Probiotics – Probiotic rich foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and Greek yogurt to help balance gut bacteria that may be triggering fatigue or joint pain.
- Omega-3s – Choose wild-caught fish for a good dose of omega-3s which support immune function and are critical for brain health.
- Water – Dehydration can increase fatigue, so try to drink a glass of water every 2 hours.
Foods to Avoid
- Alcohol – Is a depressant therefore it will exacerbate fatigue. It can also lead to a poorly functioning immune system.
- Caffeine – Too much caffeine can cause fluctuations in energy levels or dependence.
- Sugar – Taxes the immune system and worsens hypoglycemia, leading to fluctuations in energy levels.
- Gluten – Chronic fatigue may be a sign of gluten intolerance. Try to avoid all foods containing wheat.
- Foods That Trigger Allergies – Try an elimination diet to determine which foods you are intolerant to or which foods make symptoms worse. Chronic fatigue may be a sign of food allergies.
Fatigue caused by anemia is a result of the lack of red blood cells that carry oxygen from your lungs to your tissues and cells. This can make you feel weak and short of breath. Anemia may be caused by an iron or vitamin deficiency, blood loss, internal bleeding, or a chronic disease such as cancer, or kidney failure. Women of childbearing age are especially susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia because of blood loss during menstruation and the body’s need for extra iron during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Symptoms: Fatigue, extreme weakness, difficulty sleeping, lack of concentration, rapid heartbeat, chest pains, and headache. Simple exercise, such as climbing the stairs or walking short distances, can cause fatigue.
- Tests: A physical exam and blood tests, including a complete blood count to check the levels of your red blood cells. It’s also standard to check the stool for blood loss.
Top Foods For Anemia
- Liver – Beef liver is very high in iron and vitamin B12 and a variety of other important minerals. If unable to consume cow liver, make sure you include grass fed, organic beef as an alternative.
- Blackstrap Molasses – Take a spoonful daily, as it is very high in iron.
- Brewer’s Yeast – High in folic acid, B12, and iron. Add to cereal, salad, or juice.
- Foods Rich in Vitamin C – Vitamin C helps with iron absorption. If you are eating a high iron food (beef) try to include a source of vitamin C at that same meal such as tomatoes, peppers, or strawberries.
- Dark Leafy Green Vegetables – These provide a significant amount of iron and folic acid. Raw spinach is high in oxalic acid which can reduce iron absorption, however steaming spinach will this reduce this acid. Other green leafy vegetables to include are steamed kale and broccoli.
Foods to Avoid
- Chocolate – Chocolate contains a substance that removes iron from your body, so it is best to avoid when you are trying to increase your iron levels.
- Bran – Bran is high in insoluble fiber that traps and removes iron during digestion.
- Conventional Dairy (Cow’s Milk) – Calcium binds with iron in foods and can lead to poor absorption.
- Soda – Soda is high in sugar and poor in nutrients and it blocks iron absorption.
- Coffee & Black Tea – Excessive coffee intake may block iron absorption, so reduce it to no more than one cup per day.
When your thyroid hormones are out of whack, even everyday activities will wipe you out. The thyroid gland is found in the front of the neck and produces hormones that control your metabolism. Too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism), and metabolism speeds up. Too little (hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s Disease), and metabolism slows down.
- Symptoms: Hyperthyroidism/Graves Disease is most commonly diagnosed in women in their 20s and 30s, but it can occur in older women and men too. Muscle fatigue and weakness, which you may notice first in the thighs. Exercises becomes more difficult. Other symptoms include: unexplained weight loss, feeling warm all the time, increased heart rate, shorter and less frequent menstrual flows, and increased thirst.
- Symptoms: Hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s Disease is most common in women over age 50. In fact, as many as 10% of women past 50 will have at least mild hypothyroidism. It causes fatigue, an inability to concentrate, and muscle soreness, even with minor activity. Other symptoms include weight gain due to water retention, feeling cold all the time (even in warmer weather), heavier and more frequent menstrual flows, and constipation.
- Tests: Thyroid disease can be detected with a blood test. Thyroid disorders are so treatable that a thyroid test should be done in all people who complain of fatigue and/or muscle weakness.
Eating With Hyperthyroidism/Graves Disease
When it comes to seeing improvements in thyroid function the best place to start is by improving your diet with these healing foods:
- Dark Green Vegetables – Fresh green veggies that are nutrient dense such as kale, spinach and spirulina can help provide vital nutrients.
- Whole foods – Processed foods should be avoided, so aim for fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
- Anti-inflammatory herbs – Many herbs such as basil, rosemary, and oregano can be anti-inflammatory and help improve thyroid function.
- Ginger – Is an anti-inflammatory herb that can help boost immune function.
- Bone Broth – Bone broth supports detoxification and aids in healing of leaky gut issues that can make hyperthyroidism worse.
Foods to Avoid
- Gluten – A gluten-free diet is beneficial for people with thyroid issues.
- Conventional Dairy – People with thyroid problems can also benefit from a A1 casein free diet.
- Artificial Flavors or Colors – These can influence thyroid function, therefore it is best to avoid them.
- Sugar – Suppresses immune function and contributes to autoimmune disease.
- Packaged Processed Foods – Can contain GMO foods that have been linked to autoimmune conditions.
Eating For Hypothiroidism/Hashimoto’s Disease
- Go Gluten & Casein FREE – the most common allergies and food intolerances today are from wheat and dairy products because of the hybridized proteins of gluten and a1 casein. These proteins can cause “Leaky Gut” which in turn will cause inflammation of the thyroid and effect it’s function. Follow a gluten free diet then only consume dairy products that come from A2 cows, goat milk, or sheep milk.
- Check Your Iodine Levels – If they are low use a kelp or organic liquid iodine supplement.
- Heavy Metal Detox – I recommend using a combination of Milk Thistle, Turmeric, Chlorella, and Cilantro to detox these harmful metals from your cells and organs.
- More Selenium – Make sure you’re getting enough selenium in your diet but also don’t go overboard. Some of the best selenium containing foods are brazil nuts, salmon, sunflower seeds, beef, mushrooms and onions.
- Lower Carbohydrate Intake – Lower your intake of sugars and grains and replace them with healthy fats. Most women especially consume far too many carbs which increase estrogen and negatively effect the thyroid. Instead consume healthy fats that will balance hormones, like: coconut oil, coconut milk, avocado, grass-fed beef, wild salmon, chia, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.
- NO BPA – Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in plastic bottles and can disrupt your endocrine system and effect your thyroid. I recommend only drinking out of glass, stainless steel, or BPA free plastic bottles.
More than a million people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year, but many more may not even know they have it. Sugar, also called glucose, is the fuel that keeps your body going. This is problematic for people with type 2 diabetes who can’t use glucose properly. Without enough energy to keep the body running smoothly, people with diabetes often notice fatigue as one of the first warning signs.
- Symptoms: Aside from exhaustion, other signs include excessive thirst, frequent urination, hunger, weight loss, irritability, yeast infections, and blurred vision.
- Tests: There are two major tests for diabetes. The fasting plasma glucose test, which is more common, measures your blood glucose level after fasting for 8 hours. With the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), blood is drawn twice: just before drinking a glucose syrup, then 2 hours later.
Top Foods for Diabetes
- High Fiber Foods – Fiber helps slow down glucose absorption. Aim for at least 30g of high fiber foods per day from vegetables, berries, nuts, and seeds.
- Chromium Rich Foods – Foods such as raw cheese, Brewer’s yeast, broccoli and other foods are high in chromium. Chromium deficiency can lead to poor blood sugar control.
- Coconut – Good Fats found in coconut can help balance blood sugar levels and be a preferred fuel source for your body rather than sugar. Including coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut butter in your diet is a great way to intake MCFA’s.
- Wild-Caught Fish – Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation and can help counteract some of the negative effects of elevated blood glucose.
- Low Glycemic Load Foods – Foods that are “low glycemic” won’t spike blood sugar as much as high glycemic foods.
Foods That Raise Blood Sugar
- Sugar & Grains – Refined sugar rapidly spikes blood glucose and a high grain diet also negatively affects blood sugar levels.
- Soda, Juice, or other Sweet Beverages – These forms of sugar enter the bloodstream rapidly and can cause extreme elevations in blood glucose.
- Refined & Processed Foods – Any foods that are refined, processed, and contain no fiber generally will raise blood glucose.
- Cow’s milk, especially for Type 1 – There has been research showing that children with type 1 diabetes can be sensitive to the protein in cow’s milk (A1 casein). Use fermented goat’s milk products instead.
- Alcohol – Can dangerously lower blood sugar. Beer and sweet liquors are high in carbohydrates and should be avoided.
More than “the blues,” depression is a major illness that affects the way we sleep, eat, and feel about ourselves and others. Without treatment, the symptoms of depression may last for weeks, months, or even years.
- Symptoms: We don’t all experience depression in the same way. But commonly, depression can cause decreased energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, problems with memory and concentration, and feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and negativity. Sometimes even pain.
- Tests: There’s no blood test for depression, but your doctor will try to identify it by asking you a series of questions. If you experience five or more of these symptoms below for more than 2 weeks, or if they interfere with your life, see your doctor or mental health professional: fatigue or loss of energy; sleeping too little or too much; a persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood; reduced appetite and weight loss; increased appetite and weight gain; loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed; restlessness or irritability; persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment, such as headaches, chronic pain, or constipation and other digestive disorders; difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless thoughts of death or suicide.
Top Foods for Depression
- Saturated fats – Found in coconut, raw dairy, and grass-fed meats, saturated fat supports cellular function and neurological health.
- Clean Lean Protein – Protein provides energy. Try to have at least 4-5 oz of high quality lean protein at every meal.
- Wild-Caught Fish – Omega-3s are critical to maintain a healthy brain.
- Vegetables – A diet high in vegetables of all kinds increases your intake of vital nutrients that support mood.
- Seeds – Flax, chia, hemp, and pumpkin seeds provide essential omega-3s for brain function and fiber. Put them in smoothies, sprinkle them on salads or use flax oil as salad dressing.
Foods That Cause Depression
- Wheat – Is a common food allergy that can make depression worse, therefore, it is best to eliminate it from your diet.
- Hydrogenated Fats – These fats can cause inflammation and cause hormone imbalance.
- Caffeine – Although it may seem like coffee will boost energy, it is a poor resource for fueling energy. Although it’s a stimulant, caffeine can actually leave you irritable and exhausted a few hours later.
- Alcohol – Is a depressant that can make depression worse, and is not an appropriate outlet for dealing with emotional problems.
- Sugar – Can cause surges and crashes in your energy level, so it is best to avoid it.
This autoimmune disease is not always easy to diagnose early, but there are some subtle clues to look for. RA happens when your immune system turns against itself and attacks healthy joint tissue, sometimes resulting in irreversible damage to bone and cartilage.
- Symptoms: fatigue, low energy, loss of appetite, and joint pain, but these are shared by other health conditions, including other forms of arthritis such as fibromyalgia and lupus. Anemia and thyroid disorders, which also cause fatigue, are even more common in people with RA. The Atlanta-based Arthritis Foundation. Rheumatologists look for at least four of the following criteria in diagnosing RA: Morning stiffness in and around the joints lasting at least 1 hour. At least three joint areas with soft tissue swelling or fluid. At least one joint area swollen in a wrist, knuckle, or the middle joint of a finger. Simultaneous involvement of the same joint areas on both sides of the body; lumps of tissue under the skin; and bone erosion in the wrist or hand joints, detected by x-ray.
- Tests: A thorough physical exam by a rheumatologist can provide some of the most valuable evidence of the disease, but there is also a test for the presence of rheumatoid factor, an antibody found in the blood. About 80% of people with RA test positive for this antibody, but the test is not conclusive.
Top Foods For Arthritis
- Flax and chia seeds – Flax and chia seeds are high in omega-3s and have anti-inflammatory properties. Grind them and add them to cereals, salads, or smoothies.
- Cold Water, Wild-Caught Fish – Fish like salmon and mackerel are high in omega-3s which are anti-inflammatory and will help reduce inflammation in the joints.
- Fiber – Fiber traps acids and other toxins in the digestive system, pulling them out of the body. Try to get 5-9 servings of high fiber fruits and vegetables daily.
- Foods High in Sulfur – Foods high in sulfur help repair damaged bones and cartilage. Some foods high in sulfur include asparagus, cabbage, garlic, and onion.
- Bone Broth – Real bone broth contains collagen that helps rebuild joints and tissues. Try to avoid store bought bone broth and choose instead homemade bone broth. It is easy to make and gives you optimal nutrients.
Foods to Avoid
- Sugar – Sugar is pro-inflammatory, acid producing and can worsen arthritic pain.
- Conventional Dairy – Pasteurized dairy is acid-producing and should be avoided.
- Gluten – Gluten can trigger arthritis-like joint pain in some people and it is also a common food allergen. Avoid bread, pasta, or wheat cereals and any other foods containing gluten.
- Trans Fats – Trans fats increase systemic inflammation and may increase pain. Avoid pastries, processed snack foods, or fast food that may contain trans fats.
- Nightshades – These vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers) contain solanine which can trigger an allergic response in some people with arthritis.
You could have this sleep-disrupting problem if you wake up feeling tired no matter how much rest you you’re getting. Sleep apnea is a disorder of brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. In the most common type, obstructive sleep apnea, your upper airway actually closes or collapses for a few seconds, which, in turn, alerts your brain to wake you up to begin breathing again. Someone with obstructive sleep apnea may stop breathing dozens or even hundreds of times a night. The first piece of advice for a sleep apnea patient is weight loss.
- Symptoms: Sleep apnea is often signaled by snoring and is generally followed by tiredness the next day. Because sleep apnea can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, it’s important to be tested.
- Tests: This involves an overnight stay at a sleep clinic, where you’ll undergo a polysomnogram, which is a painless test that will monitor your sleep patterns, breathing changes, and brain activity.
Top Foods for Sleep Apnea
- Fruits & Veggies – As nutrient and fiber-rich, relatively low-calorie foods, fruits and vegetables may help you manage your weight. Since fiber promotes fullness, try enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables in place of less satiating, calorie-dense snack foods, such as cookies and candy.
- Whole Grains – Unlike refined grains, whole grains have retained valuable nutrient and fiber content during food processing. As a result, they can help you stay fuller longer, maintain digestive regularity and meet your daily fiber needs. Fiber-rich foods can help you manage your weight and potentially reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Carbohydrates also help with the production of serotonin, so try to include butternut squash or sweet potatoes into your dinner.
- Raw Milk & Dairy – Although dairy can be problematic for some, a glass of raw milk before bed does help with sleep. A2 dairy is recommended from goat’s, sheep, or A2 cows. Dairy products supply significant amounts of calcium, vitamin D and protein, which promotes blood sugar balance and fullness between meals. One useful way to reduce your caloric intake and manage your weight, according to “Snoring and Sleep Apnea: Sleep Well, Feel Better,” by Ralph A. Pascualy and Sally Warren Soest.
- Plant Based Oils – Plant-based oils provide unsaturated fats that support nutrient absorption, brain function and heart-health. If you’re overweight and have sleep apnea, the UMMC recommends replacing saturated fat sources, such as butter and margarine, with healthier alternatives, such as canola and olive oil. When consumed in excess, saturated fats may increase inflammation and increase your risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Foods to Avoid That Cause Rapid Weight Gain
- Any Potential Food Allergens
- Over-Sugary Foods & Drinks
- Refined, Processed Foods
- High Fat Foods