Getting to the bottom of fatigue

Eoin Roe, Chiropractic

Call 087 958 2362

One of the most common symptoms that accompanies any chronic health condition is fatigue and low energy. Getting to the root cause of this for each person is essential for them to make any sort of recovery.  

There are three things we need in order to have energy and not feel fatigued – sleep, fuel and efficient clearance of toxins from the body.

Sleep is one of the most beneficial things for our bodies and is absolutely essential. One of the reasons it is so important for people who have a chronic health problem is that the correct functioning and development of your immune cells is dependent on getting good sleep. For many people getting a good night’s sleep can be elusive and they often have to resort to medication, whether pharmaceutical or natural, to help them. This is not an ideal situation, as it doesn’t deal with the underlying issue. There are many reasons that sleep can be disturbed: Low blood sugar will cause people to wake in the middle of the night, usually around 3am. Chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which raises your heart rate and makes you more alert can make it harder to get to sleep and stay asleep. 

Often these sleep problems will be related to other issues such as diet in the case of nocturnal low blood sugar. The sympathetic nervous system can be activated by many different stressors; just having a stressful time at work or home can affect your sleep but so could vestibular and ear problems that affect balance. When you feel off balance all the time, your sympathetic nervous system will be continuously activated and this will disturb your circadian rhythm, making sleep difficult.

Fuel comes from the food we eat. All the food we eat, whether that is a carbohydrate, protein, or fat will eventually turn into glucose, which at a cellular level is the fuel that the body uses. We have already talked about how blood sugar stability can affect your ability to sleep. There is also a second stage of energy production, once the glucose is delivered to your cells it goes through a further transformation to ATP. This is a complex chemical reaction within mitochondria of each cell. This reaction naturally produces molecules that can bind to other tissue and cause inflammation and damage. This is a normal part of physiology and there are systems in place to rid the body of these damaging oxidants. If you have ever wondered what antioxidants like Vitamin C are, these help to clean up oxidants so you can eliminate them from your body. When you have a build up of oxidants or a lack of antioxidants in the diet, this is damaging, causing inflammation and eventually disease. This is a significant cause of fatigue and may mean that you need to sleep more than normal, wake up feeling lousy, find exercise hard and are just struggling to function. 

Clearing toxins from the body also requires us to be drinking plenty of water. It is not possible to substitute water with drinks like soda, tea or coffee. These drinks are quite  powerful diuretics meaning that it will make you pee more and therefore dehydrate you.  When you are dehydrated on a cellular level, nothing works well, water is the solute where all the biochemical reactions in the body happen, including those related to energy production. If you are dehydrated, your mitochondria cannot work efficiently so you have less energy. We should all be aiming to drink at least eight-10 glasses of water per day and keeping caffeinated drinks down a maximum of two daily. Drinking plenty of water also helps us to remove toxins from the body in urine and sweat.

Energy production in the body also relies on oxygen and this comes from the air we breathe.  Breathing in polluted air is always problematic because you are adding in toxins that your body will need to remove. But even breathing problems like sleep apnoea, or cardiovascular issues can cause the level of oxygen in your blood to drop, this is a significant stressor for the body and can cause fragmented sleep throughout the night. 

When dealing with chronic health issues there is often a number of different symptoms; whether that is pain, digestion problems or balance issues, nearly all chronic patients will present with fatigue and often sleep problems. Getting to the root cause of these can be the key to helping them feel better and have more energy, which in turn helps to deal with the chronic health problem.

Eoin Roe is a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and a Doctor of Chiropractic working in Skibbereen. If you would like to get in touch please call 087 9582362 or get in touch through the website

WCP Staff

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