Natural Solutions for Fatigue
Fatigue is a common issue that many people face on a daily basis. While we all experience fatigue at times from either working hard or playing hard, some people just feel tired all the time no matter what they do. I’m talking about a deep fatigue feeling that is never quenched no matter how much the person sleeps. There can be many medical reasons that cause fatigue such as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), anemia (iron or B12 deficiency), or low hormone production (adrenal fatigue), and all of these conditions can be confirmed by blood tests. However, there are other conditions that may cause fatigue that may be trickier to diagnose such as an overgrowth of bacteria or inflammation in the small intestines that leads to a condition called SIBO or SIFO. Since we see a lot of people with inflammation in our practice we wanted to write a post about it to help people understand the important link between gut health and energy levels.
Inflammation & Fatigue Connection
Our gut health influences a variety of important functions in the body such as immunity and nutrient absorption. Nutrient absorption takes place in the gut with the help of the billions of bacteria that live in there. Sometimes there can be an overgrowth of what we refer to as the “bad” bacteria or fungus (SIBO or SIFO) which interferes with our ability to absorb nutrients. This bacterial overgrowth uses a fermentation process to manufacture energy for itself from carbohydrates. A by-product from this fermentation process is ethanol (aka alcohol) which can produce symptoms similar to feeling hung over, as well as chronic fatigue.
The problem is further compounded when we also have inflammation in the gut, which arises when any type of irritant (whether it is a food we are allergic to or intolerant to) has been eaten and creates inflammation in the gut lining. When the gut is chronically inflamed, we lose the ability to absorb important nutrients that are required for energy in the body. Chronic inflammation will further cause feelings of fatigue because resources in the body are now used up for the inflammation process, triggering a reaction from the immune system. Inflammation is like a batman signal, if you will, calling the immune system for help to a specific location. So while ongoing inflammation can use up a lot of our resources and can disrupt our nutrient absorption in the gut, it is an important process for signalling to the body that there is a problem.
Healing the Gut
The good news is that by healing the gut and addressing both inflammation and the SIBO/SIFO, you should start feeling more energetic quite quickly – the length of time will depend on the individual’s healing process, and how strictly they can abide by a low carbohydrate diet. So let’s lay out a few things you can do right now to help your gut heal and decrease fatigue.
- Probably the most important factor is to reduce carbohydrates in the diet. And by carbohydrates we mean all – simple sugars, goodies, treats, and healthier sources of carbohydrates such as whole grain breads and cereals, beans, and most fruits. If you need more guidance for dietary restrictions you can talk to us, or look up a low FODMAP diet.
- Boost healthy fats in the diet. I know, if you’ve read our other posts you’ll notice we always talk about boosting healthy fats. That’s because healthy fats, especially Omega 3 fats like camelina oil, flax, and grass-fed butter, are great for reducing inflammation. We don’t recommend cooking with these fats because Omega 3’s are very sensitive to heat, but instead, add them to your smoothies or your meals after they’ve been cooked. You can also use other healthy fat sources like avocados and coconut oil too.
- Reduce potential allergens such as wheat, dairy and soy. Even if you don’t have a food intolerance to these foods they can still cause irritation which will lead to inflammation in the gut.
Try this for two weeks, and if you don’t feel better contact us about testing for other possibilities.