You’re dragging around, propping yourself up with caffeine, limping through the day. Something has got to be wrong. What can it be? Here are the most common reasons why you are suffering with low energy:
1. You could be anemic.
Your red blood cells carry oxygen to every part of your brain and body. A protein called hemoglobin inside the red blood cell is responsible for this critical job. So what happens if you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells or enough hemoglobin to deliver oxygen? You feel tired. Other symptoms of anemia may include light-headedness, pale skin, or a fast heartbeat.
Anemia is surprisingly common and can be easily treated with the proper nutrients. A blood test is needed to determine if you are anemic and what nutrients (usually iron and/or B12) you need to get your red blood cells hopping again.
2. Stress has taken its toll.
Our bodies are equipped to handle a certain amount of stress for a certain amount of time. And everyone is different in this regard– some people can handle way more than others based on their genetics, life-style and stress-coping strategies.
But given a large amount of stress (or many stresses) over an extended period of time, nearly everyone will have the experience of their bodies bending — then possibly breaking — under the pressure. Chronic stress can throw you into the cycle of adrenal fatigue, where your adrenal glands simply cannot keep up with the demands made on them. For more detailed information on this, read What Phase of Adrenal Fatigue are YOU in?
3. You’re not sleeping well.
It’s obvious to most people that if you don’t get enough sleep you aren’t going to have enough energy during the day. Sometimes the lac of sleep is easily explainable, like you have a massive project underway at work (been there), or your toddler keeps crawling into your bed in the middle of the night (been there too).
But what if the problem is that you just can’t sleep? There are numerous factors that can be tied in to insomnia, and if you don’t get it figured out, it could unravel the rest of your health in a significant way. Prescription medications and self-medication aren’t the long-term solutions you are looking for. See the article: Ten Tips to Get You Sleeping Like a Baby TONIGHT to learn more about what to do and Four Tests That Can Help You Find the Cause AND Solution to Your Insomnia.
4. Your thyroid is struggling (even though your doctor said it is fine).
In my experience of 20 years of clinical practice, very few doctors order the right tests to truly test the health of their patient’s thyroid gland. Ordering one or two or three tests will not give you a complete clinical picture of what the thyroid is doing and why. Looking only at TSH is not going to give you the information you need. Even adding T3 and T4 is still an incomplete picture. You need the full and complete thyroid panel, including both Free T4 and Free T3, Reverse T3, T3 uptake and thyroid antibodies.
Many people are currently taking thyroid medication and still have symptoms of low thyroid function. If this is the case, please find a doctor who will thoroughly examine your thyroid function. You may have an immune condition that is slowly damaging your thyroid, and that needs to be treated in a completely different way. In fact, autoimmune thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s disease, is the number one cause of thyroid dysfunction in the United States.
In addition, thyroid hormones should be measured in conjunction with the adrenal gland and sex hormones to get a clear picture of energy pathways and where the imbalance is.
5. You have a hormone imbalance.
If your sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) are out of balance, it could be dragging your energy down.
It is estimated that over 85% of women over the age of 45 suffer from low testosterone. Testosterone is necessary, even for women, and even after menopause, to produce energy, healthy moods, and for sex drive.
Diminishing estrogen can also sap energy and lead to irritability, hot flashes, and mood swings. Conversely, estrogen levels that are too high, especially in relation to progesterone (known as estrogen dominance), can also cause fatigue, irritability, and irregular or heavy menstrual cycles. This is especially common during peri-menopause, but can happen at any time in a woman’s life.
There is a great deal of overlap between the functionality and balance of the sex hormones, adrenal hormones, thyroid hormones, and blood sugar. That’s why it’s a good idea to have these all tested thoroughly and at the same time so your doctor can see how they correlate and truly determine why your energy is low.
6. You aren’t eating (or absorbing) the right foods and nutrients.
Our bodies depend on a constant stream of nutrition to maintain energy. However, energy production is far more complicated than simply ingesting enough calories.
Ingesting a diet that is too high in carbohydrates (especially simple carbohydrates and sugar), and too low in protein and good fats is not only a recipe for fatigue but for weight gain as well. In my patient base the most common dietary mistake I see by far is consuming a diet that is too low in protein and too high in simple carbs.
Grains (including wheat, rice, and corn) are notorious for being the most common foods on American plates. They are also incredibly pro-inflammatory, meaning when you eat them they increase inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation is the number one cause of diseases of aging in our society, and can lead to weight problems, heart problems, joint and muscle pain, and degenerative brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Food intolerance (which occurs when you eat a certain food or combination of foods that elicit an immune reaction in your body) is common in our society, with gluten, dairy and soy being top offenders. Testing for food intolerance has come a long way just in the past three years, so make sure you talk this over with your functional medicine doctor to determine if you should be tested or re-tested.
Eating plenty of fruits, and especially veggies, is a good start for ensuring you are getting ample nutrients, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. But supplementation is still usually necessary because our life styles and genetics are less than perfect. This is especially true ifyou have specific health goals you are trying to reach.
Some common nutrients and supplements that can help combat fatigue are*:
- Hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, which can help you absorb the nutrients from your food
- Iron (important if you need it, but too much iron can become a powerful free-radical and wreak havoc on your body, making it important to test your level before you start supplementing)
- B vitamins, especially B12 and folate in methylated forms
- Minerals such as zinc and copper
- Good fats and oils such as from fish, avocado and olives
- Fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants (Vitamins A, D, E and K)
- Natural anti-inflammatories and neuro-protectors such glutathione, turmeric, and resveratrol
- Probiotics (boost the immune system, aid in the detoxification response, and regulate digestive function)
*Please always talk to your doctor before adding these or any other supplements to your protocol.
7. Your immune system is battle weary.
If your immune system is under constant stress, you will experience fatigue. It takes energy to fight a foe month after month…after month. Chronic underlying infections are also considered by most doctors to be a gateway to developing autoimmunity, where your immune system gets confused and starts to attack your own tissue. It’s important to have thorough and specific testing for pathogens done if you have low white blood cell counts, low platelet levels, or an autoimmune condition.
Infections may fly under the radar because they are adept at developing biofilms, which are shields that pathogens make to hide from our immune system attack. Behind these biofilms the pathogens can continue to replicate themselves and produce toxins. Biofilms also allow pathogens to stay hidden from your immune system, from medications, and from many of the common tests that doctors use to try to find infectious agents.
Chronic immune system pathogens can be bacterial, fungal, viral or parasitic. Happily, testing is getting more specialized, and with these advanced lab work-ups, we can better identify chronic infections.
Build up of heavy metals and toxic chemicals in your body and brain can also lead to chronic immune system stress, which overwhelms the detoxification organs (colon, liver, kidneys and skin).
8. You are swimming in toxins
Our body has the amazing capability to rid itself of toxins through our digestive system, liver and kidneys and skin. But it can become overwhelmed in any of these areas, and a backlog in one can stress the other systems and cause fatigue.
Toxicity can not only make you tired, it can make you hang on to fat cells and not let them go. If the body can’t detoxify the nasty stuff, then it has no choice but to store it in fat tissue or in the lymph system.
Signs and symptoms of toxicity include:
- skin blemishes (acne) and rashes
- inability to lose fat
- constipation and/or diarrhea
- chronic congestion or mucus
- trouble sleeping
- food cravings
- food intolerances
If your energy is on the floor and you really want to find out why, don’t wait. Contact Dr. Engelbart and schedule a consultation. It’s time to get experience ample energy. It’s time to experience Your Top Life!