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Energy Levels & Fatigue

Low energy levels?

A lack of energy can affect the whole way we feel and function. Fatigue is not a disorder in itself, but rather an indication of possible underlying problems. Most illnesses, from cancer to the common cold, cause some form of fatigue. Extremely persistent and disabling fatigue is the chief symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Fatigue that is characterised by a lack of energy may be caused by boredom or depression. Persistent fatigue that is not caused by any underlying illness is usually the result of poor diet, lifestyle and habits, especially the combination of a high fat, high refined carbohydrate, low nutrient diet and emotional stress.

Be sure to drink 2 litres of clean water daily, along with nutritious, fresh foods. We also recommend a high potency multi-vitamin for optimum energy levels.

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Blood sugar irregularities are often a factor in low energy levels...

In today's diets, research has found more and more of us are consuming far too much carbohydrate, and, too little protein (such as meats, dairy products, nuts and seeds) - a mistake a lot of us make. For nutritionists and dieticians alike, this is posing a real concern - especially as new research shows that some of our major health risks may be initiated by such diets.

To maintain an active muscle mass and to stay anabolic (building of healthy cells) we need to consume more calories from low fat protein sources & less from starch based carbohydrates. The ability to control our blood glucose level is dependant on muscle mass, because 80% of circulating glucose is typically stored in the muscle as glycogen. With low muscle mass, blood glucose clearance is delayed, resulting in blood sugar & consequently energy problems.

Feeling energised makes a huge difference to your overall outlook on life.

How your diet can effect your energy levels...

Too many calories consumed from carbohydrate sources causes hormonal fluctuations (too much insulin), which can contribute to conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, lack of energy, fat gain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Insulin is produced in response to the consumption of carbohydrates enabling our cells to absorb glucose from the blood. The cells process the glucose to make the energy they need to function. Too much carbohydrate in proportion to your protein intake results in excessive insulin production. This can have many harmful effects including insulin resistance. This means that there is so much insulin in the blood that the cell receptors may become exhausted and thus less receptive, or, resistant to the effects of insulin. When cells become resistant to insulin, they lose energy and messages are sent out which make the pancreas produce more insulin. Insulin causes the body to store carbohydrates as fat, and, stops fat being used as a source of energy production. Insulin resistance can be caused by too many, or the wrong type, of carbohydrates in your diet.

The best diet to help maintain good energy levels...

A diet high in fresh raw fruit and vegetables is essential for good energy levels. Natural health nutritionists say that 60-70% of your diet should consist of fruit and vegies and only 30-40% of them should be cooked.

Try including these foods with each meal i.e. fresh fruit with breakfast, a salad or at least salad on your sandwich at lunch and salad with dinner. A diet of mostly cooked foods will end up depleting the body enzymes and this is what many believe contributes to disease, allergies, lack of energy and the general poor health of so many people.

It is hard to be motivated if your energy levels are low...

A lack of any nutrient can cause low energy levels, so if you suffer with fatigue, you should consider introducing a good quality multivitamin into your daily regime. The healthiest diet cannot always provide the levels of nutrients we require. Stress, work pressures, family demands, illness and other problems deplete the body of the daily nutrients it needs to perform properly. 'Tired all the time', irritability and sluggishness are signs of nutrient deficiencies.

It is also worth considering that prescription medications such as the oral contraceptive pill, antacids, antibiotics, diuretics, laxatives and anti-inflammatories lead to depletion of vitamin levels in the body. On a high quality multiple, people often experience higher energy levels, improved brain function, fewer colds and infections and other health benefits. There is also evidence that people taking nutritional supplements may have a lowered risk for heart disease and cancer.

Choosing the right multi-vitamin...

Unfortunately, with so many choices, many people end up lost in a world of confusion. Many people add a multi-vitamin to the shopping cart at the supermarket without even checking the ingredients. Usually these have very low levels of nutrients and a limited range of ingredients making them cheaper and far less effective than a health food store brand.

Quality indicators you can rely on include checking what it doesn't have e.g is it free of potential allergens such as yeast, salt, sugar, starch, wheat, dairy products, artificial colours and sweeteners?

A modern multiple formula such as Multi-Power will not only contain a full range of vitamins and minerals but also herbs, nutrients and digestive enzymes. This is a unique formula with a green food base consisting of Alfalfa, Barley Grass, Spirulina and Chlorella. Women of child-bearing age and pregnant women will also reap the benefits of the maximum allowable dose of Folic Acid. It is one of a very few 'multi's' where you can actually feel the difference - developed by qualified nutritionists and naturopaths for ease of assimilation and effectiveness.

Low Iron can be a contributor to low energy levels...

A common reason for low Iron levels is due to the regular consumption of foods and beverages that contain tannin and caffeine. For up to 1 hour after eating a meal, tannin and caffeine act like magnets and bind with minerals and vitamins, but particularly Iron and Calcium, and eliminate these from the body. Ideally you should not have these products for up to 1 hour after a meal. This includes standard tea, coffee, red wine, many herb teas, energy drinks like V and chocolate.

As we consume these foods, Inositol and Biotin, which are both recognised as part of the B complex vitamins, may become depleted. Being deficient in these prevents Iron from being properly used, and causes other vitamins to be pumped through and out of the body before they can be properly absorbed.

Wine contains polyphenols which also bind to Iron, hindering its absorption.

A high consumption of milk products decreases dietary Iron absorption, as does the regular use of antacids.

Low stomach acid, low dietary Iron levels, parasites, taking an Iron & Calcium supplement at exactly the same time can all cause problems.

An alternative to regular caffeinated beverages, Madura tea has no tannins and low levels of caffeine but tastes identical to normal tea and is far less likely to impact on mineral absorption.

We stock a number of excellent Iron supplements. Two of our favourites are Malcolm Harker's Ironecta and Xcel Health Superior Iron. Ironecta is a delicious (very cough mixture like) liquid Iron tonic, made with Blackberries, Nettle and Willow. Womens Iron Complex contains Iron bisglycinate, a non constipating type of iron and very readily absorbed, with added vitamin B12, Folic acid and vitamin C, all for maximum absorption.

If you continue to suffer with low Iron, even though you take an Iron supplement, get your Ferritin levels checked. Ferritin is an Iron binding protein. Your Ferritin level determines your body's capacity to store Iron and will assist with Iron absorption & transport, as well as Iron storage within the cell. Ferritin is indicated in all cases of anaemia.

Poor adrenal function can contribute to low energy...

People with adrenal insufficiency are the type who usually lead fairly stressful lives. If they also worry a lot, are fatigued, or if they do not eat well and have low nutritional levels, these poor glands will not be able to cope.

The profile of a person with under active adrenals includes a person who is meticulous in all their work. They tend to be perfectionists who often drive themselves to exhaustion, since they are unable to relax. Sluggishness and a lack of concentration can occur just before lunch when their blood sugar level is low. Severe personality and emotional changes can occur, but in most cases these are reversible. The skin on these people may be thickened and their nails may be brittle. Their blood pressure is usually low or subnormal - 105/60 or less. As well as this, these people can be the ones who get swollen ankles, which are worse in the afternoon and at night, that then return to normal after a good nights sleep.

Other symptoms found in 75% of people with adrenal insufficiency include fatigue, nervousness and irritability, feelings of depression, muscle weakness, light headedness and headaches, cravings for salt, PMT, allergies, sparse body hair, poor memory, confused states, feelings of frustration, fears and an intolerance to alcohol.

Adrenal Formula was developed by the late Dr John Christopher, American master herbalist. He developed this special formula over 50 years ago to help people who came to his clinic with adrenal exhaustion. This formula contains herbs which have been traditionally used to strengthen adrenal function and to help the body cope with regular stress. It contains the relaxing herbs Mullein and Lobelia; the tonic herb Siberian Ginseng; Gotu Kola, which will increase blood flow to your brain, increasing your concentration and mental ability; the heart herb Hawthorn berries, which will help to protect your heart; Cayenne pepper which will strengthen your circulatory system; and, Liquorice root which will directly support your adrenal gland while restoring hormonal balance. We have also developed our own product at Ideal Health, Adrenal Support which provides herbs that help the body cope better during stress, improve circulation, and restore a balanced hormonal output.

Natural herbs that can help with low energy levels...

Include: Guarana, Ginseng, Bee pollen, Chlorella, Spirulina. Check these out individually to find out more about them.

Exercise helps...

Regular exercise is very energising and should be undertaken at least 3 times a week - even if this is just walking. Increased oxygenation will enable your cells to produce more energy and you will feel more alive!

Nutritional and Herbal support for Fatigue includes...

Multi Power - A multi vitamin supplement for increased energy and concentration.

CoQ10 - Co-enzyme Q10 formula for increasing cellular energetics.

Chlorella - An algae, like spirulina, but 5 times more potent. Full of naturally occurring enzymes and nutrients for increased energy levels.

Guarana Ginseng - A herbal formula containing herbs specifically for increased energy.

Some interesting points on Fatigue:

  • Ensure you are eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Also maintain balanced sugar levels by making sure an adequate amount of protein is consumed through the day.
  • Get out and get some regular exercise. Ensure some good quality air is taken in once in a while.
  • If fatigue is persistent, consult your health care practitioner to determine a possible underlying cause.


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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

If you need help or advice, please email our naturopathic team with your health question.  Please allow 48 hours for a response.

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