Fighting Fatigue

Fighting Fatigue

By Tim Altman – Published on minx, February 21, 2012
View article on minx

Fatigue is something we commonly hear talked about in various situations. “I’m so tired” or “I’m so rundown, I feel exhausted!” are common statements. There are ailments such as CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Adrenal Fatigue and these are becoming more widely discussed and diagnosed.

But what exactly is fatigue and what causes it? Tim Altman, naturopath and health specialist gives us a snapshot view into why and what causes us to feel zonked…

Fatigue most often appears as a result of a number of ailments or aspects of living that debilitate our system. These include:

  1. Post viral illness; i.e. glandular fever, chronic sinusitis etc.
  2. Post extreme and/or chronic stress – be it emotional (divorce, death in the family, bankruptcy, VCE etc) or physical (i.e. as is often seen in athletes who over train).
  3. As a result of long term elevated and/or fluctuating blood sugar levels – leading to hypoglycemia or insulin resistance.
  4. Over stimulation of the nervous system via stress (as above), and excessive amounts of stimulants (coffee, energy drinks, sugar, alcohol, smoking, drugs etc.).
  5. Gastro-intestinal problems – IBS, dysbiosis etc.
  6. Obesity.
  7. Chronic inactivity or lack of exercise.
  8. Vitamin/mineral deficiencies; i.e. anaemia.

In general, it could be argued that all of the above occur as a result of living in a fashion that is out of alignment with how our bodies have been built or genetically programmed (via evolutionary environmental influences) to function optimally or thrive.  These aspects of living include how we eat and drink, how we move (or not!), how we breathe, how we think and how we rest and rejuvenate.

Why do people feel tired?

People feel tired for the very same reasons usually, as they feel fatigued. However at a cellular level it is because their cells no longer produce energy efficiently due to:

  • Nervous system and adrenal exhaustion – via over stimulation.
  • Poor fuel and vitamin/mineral supply.
  • Excessive free radical damage to cell membranes due to an excess of toxins and insufficient antioxidants.
  • Immune dysfunction and poor absorption of nutrients due to disturbance in gastro-intestinal flora and mucous membrane linings – known as dysbiosis.
  • Inefficient metabolism and elimination of wastes and toxins via liver and kidneys.
  • Poor supply of oxygen to the cells due to inefficient breathing – too rapid and too much volume of air due to mouth breathing as opposed to breathing through the nose and being driven by the diaphragm.

What are some things that you can do to prevent fatigue?

1. Eliminate or dramatically reduce dietary intake of the following:
a)  Sugars – including sugar, sweets, chocolates, added sugars, refined carbohydrates (white flour/rice in bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, cereals, muesli bars etc.), alcohol.
b) Processed foods – foods containing chemicals or that have been refined in any way.
c) Stimulants – coffee, energy drinks, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs.

2. Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks daily and include protein in each meal and snack (especially breakfast).

3. Exercise regularly.

4. Breathe through the nose at all times, using the diaphragm (even during exercise) rather than using the mouth, chest and shoulders.

5. Cleanse your gut and liver via detoxification processes.

6. Learn to relax and balance your nervous system via meditation and yoga.

7. Use a herbal adaptogen to assist in undoing the damage caused by over stimulation of the nervous system and the resulting adrenal fatigue.

Tim Altman is a qualified naturopath, with practices in Melbourne’s South Yarra, Port Melbourne and bayside in Torquay. 

Taking a holistic approach to the overall health and wellness of the client rather than simply focusing on symptoms, Tim designs specific programs for his clients based around nutrition, exercise and herbal medicines to help improve overall health.