Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Why are you feeling so fatigued? Is your constant tiredness robbing your quality of life?

As a collective human race, we’re experiencing unparalleled levels of fatigue, but why? Simply put, our bodies are trying to function in a world they just weren’t designed to live in.



A far cry from the simpler hunter-gatherer world our genes evolved in, each day we are exposed to an increasing amount of stressors, such as:

  • The psychological impact associated with finances, relationships, work or health issues;
  • Processed foods;
  • Being overfed and undernourished;
  • Poor sleep quality and/or reduced quantity;
  • Electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure emitted from smartphones, TV’s, Wi-Fi etc. and excessive use of these digital devices;
  • Environmental toxins through air pollution, plastics and synthetic home/personal care products;
  • Sluggish liver, kidneys and bowels;
  • Adrenal and/or thyroid issues;
  • A dysregulated body clock due to prolonged artificial light exposure; and
  • Prolonged periods of sitting.

 

As the body can’t differentiate between psychological and physical triggers, these factors cumulatively activate the stress response, increasing the demand and strain on the body’s energy reserves. Unsurprisingly, this is making us tired. 

One primary reason for this stress-induced fatigue is that nutritionally, the demand for energy is greater than what is being supplied by what would be considered a balanced diet. This nutritional deficit is akin to speeding down the highway with 100 places to be, whilst unknowingly having the handbrake on the whole way. You’ll reach your destinations, but it’s going to take a lot more effort! In order to get everything done, it’s clear you’re going to need to pull over, take off the handbrake, and continue your journey with more ease.  The handbrakes can be in the food you eat, the lack of nutrition you are having, the sluggishness in your liver, kidneys, bowels, adrenal and/or thyroid or in your mitochondria itself.

 

Mitochondria Matter Too!

Having a nutrient intake that doesn’t meet your energy demands impacts your entire body. Within each of your cells, there are clever components called organelles, the microscopic contents that carry out your cells functions.  One of these organelles is the mitochondria, which look after energy production, and work tirelessly to provide your cells with a constant fuel supply.

However, these mitochondria are extremely sensitive to psychological and physical stressors, which as we have already discussed, place a burden on our energy requirements. The nutritional depletion and cellular damage that can occur from stress therefore overly tax our mitochondria, comprising their function. The result, poor mitochondrial function, then leads to a reduction in overall energy supply and the presentation of fatigue.

So, in the midst of modern day stress, how do we meet these increased energy demands and kick fatigue to the curb?


 

Luckily there are several key nutrients that help support and protect your mitochondria against the brunt of daily stressors, which include:

 Co­enzyme Q10 (CoQ10):

  • A vital nutrient used by your mitochondria to produce energy, with research showing low CoQ10 stores are linked with increased susceptibility to fatigue states and chronic disease.
  • In addition to fatigue, stress is another cause of oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. CoQ10 carry’s strong antioxidant actions, helping to protect your mitochondria, and overall body, from the cellular damage that can occur from stress.

Magnesium:

  • This essential mineral is needed by your body to help convert the food you eat into energy.
  • Also, a magnesium deficiency makes you more susceptible to stress, whilst stress depletes your magnesium levels – resulting in a vicious cycle.

B Vitamins:

  • B vitamins are required by the mitochondria to create molecules of energy, but can become depleted in states of stress. B vitamins also work to blunt the impact of stress on your body, and modulate the production of stress hormones (e.g. cortisol).  A good place to get adequate B vitamins is from nutritional yeast, or if you do not methylate well, use methylated B vitamins.

 

Other reasons you might be feeling tired, and how you can fix it

When you’re always tired, everything in life takes more effort, which can eventually keep you from doing the things you love. Often, it can be difficult to pin down the exact cause of your tiredness, because so many factors can affect your energy. To help, here is a list of common causes of fatigue, with practical solutions to re-energise you.

Poor sleep

In order to rest and recharge, your body needs seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you are struggling to get to sleep, or stay asleep, audit your bedtime routine. Are you engaging in stimulating activities before bed, such as heavy exercise, or working on your laptop? Do you consume caffeine (e.g. tea, coffee, cola or chocolate) too close to bedtime? If, despite having healthy habits, you are still not sleeping well, there are effective, natural options to help.

Dehydration

Fatigue is a common symptom of dehydration, which can be caused by simply not drinking enough water ( you should aim to achieve 30ml/kg per day), fluid loss (from exercise or hot weather) or a combination of the two. One way to tell if you are dehydrated is by the colour of your urine; if it is darker than a just-ripe banana, you are probably dehydrated. Drink two or three glasses of water immediately, and make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day.  Potassium is an important mineral to help our body stay hydrated.

Stress

Chronic stress, due to unstable finances, relationships, work or health issues, can also take its toll on your energy levels. By triggering the hormone adrenaline, stress can leave you feeling overstimulated, and eventually wipe you out.  Improving your stress management through meditation, exercise or speaking to a counsellor, may increase your energy. Magnesium, which is vital for energy production, is also depleted by stress, so making sure you get enough of this important mineral can help improve your energy levels.

Viral infection

When fighting an infection, your body forces you to prioritise rest by making you feel tired. However, fatigue can persist for weeks or months following certain infections, hampering your return to full health. If you haven’t bounced back from a recent illness, immune-boosting herbal medicines including astragalus and medical mushrooms (such as reishi, shiitake and coriolus), alongside nutrients such as zinc and vitamin C can make a massive difference to your energy, putting pesky post-viral fatigue to rest!

Mould exposure

Exposure to mould from water-damaged or damp buildings can trigger your immune system and cause fatigue in a similar way to viruses. If you have noticed water damage in your home, consult with a qualified natural healthcare practitioner to get on top of mould-related illness by supporting your immune system. 

Low iron levels

If you follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, have a history of poor absorption (for example, due to a digestive condition), or experience heavy periods, you may have an iron deficiency, which has been associated with fatigue.  If this sounds like you, a visit to your GP for a blood test is highly recommended to assess your iron status.

Mental health issues

The topic of mental health is important to understand, as individuals experiencing depression may not immediately recognise symptoms such as fatigue, poor appetite, constant frustration, and profound feelings of indifference as part of a mental health diagnosis. If these symptoms sound familiar to you or a family member, seeking support and reaching out to qualified healthcare Practitioners is the first step in addressing mental health issues. Eventually, managing mental wellbeing can help resolve symptoms such as fatigue, and support overall health and wellbeing.

 

Low blood sugar

Eating balanced meals can help to stabilise blood sugar levels by providing a steady flow of nutritional resources that the body can convert into energy. This means starting the day with a balanced breakfast, like a plant based protein smoothie, followed by protein-rich wholefood snacks (such as boiled eggs and nuts) as the day goes on.

Getting these nutrients in your diet can be tricky, but consuming a variety of whole foods including fish, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and dark green, leafy vegetables can help to boost your intake. In the meantime, addressing nutrient deficiency with a supplement may improve your energy. It is important to keep in mind that the quality and effectiveness of supplements can vary, so seek the advice of a qualified health Practitioner who can help choose the right combination for you.




 

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Which Diet is Best?

I have often been asked this question – which diet is best?  Nutrition is probably the only art and science that can be both right and wrong at the same time.  Why?  Simply because we are all unique and one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

The common ones are:

  1. Paleo (eating foods that our hunter gatherer forefathers used to eat, no grains or legumes)

  2. Keto (over half your caloric intake is from fats, about 30% from protein and approximately 10% from carbohydrates)
  3. Gluten free (eliminating wheat, rye, barley, oat, spelt and kamut)
  4. Dairy free (eliminating all foods made from the milk of a cow, goat or sheep)
  5. Vegetarian (mainly plant based with some eggs, dairy, honey) 
  6. Vegan (no animal products at all)
  7. Low fat (when fat is taken out, the mouth feel changes, satiety factor is reduced so other flavours, salt and sugar is enhanced to make the food palatable)
  8. FODMAP (where specific carbohydrate containing fructose and the various saccharides make digestive symptoms worse)

Each diet has its own merits and demerits, some more than others.  Ultimately it depends on the health objective (do you want to lose weight, gain weight, increase your energy, eliminate bloating, flatulence, gut pain or diarrhea or constipation or reduce pain), the genetic make up and the presentation of health or disease.  There are some strong indications of certain diets consistently being useful for a lot of the times with certain conditions, e.g. gluten and dairy free with IBS or eczema.  In times that the benefit is not there, there is a deeper underlying cause.  The most important aspect of any diet or treatment is to identify the underlying driver of that imbalance.  Sometimes the underlying is simple to identify, other times, most tests, functional and pathology tests have to be employed to work out what caused the symptom(s).

In summary, no ONE diet is the best.  What we do know is best is feeding ourselves only until we are 80% full at a meal and to have a proper break from meals between dinner and breakfast, hence the name break-fast.  We are designed to be fasting at night, or what is better known as time restricted eating.  Whilst we could be feasting during this holiday season, just remember to have a break from feasting after those big, rich meals to allow your body to recover and have a break!  Make 2021 your best year yet, feel the vitality and confidence!

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen 2020

 The Environmental Working Group (EWG) most updated Dirty Dozen 2020 list:

1.  Strawberries

2.  Spinach


3.  Kale

4.  Nectarine

5.  Apple

6.  Grapes (note this if you eat raisins)

7.  Peaches

8.  Cherries

9.  Pear

10. Tomato

11.  Celery

12.  Potato

These top dozen fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide contamination and would pay to buy and eat organically.

The Clean Fifteen list comprises fruits and vegetables that have the least pesticide contamination on them.  When considering your grocery budget, these are the ones where conventionally grown ones can just make it into the shopping basket.

1. Avocado

2. Sweet corn (whilst this may not have much pesticides, beware of GMO)

3. Pineapple

4. Onion

5. Papaya

6. Sweet pea

7. Eggplant

8. Asparagus

9. Cauliflower

10. Cantaloupes

11. Broccoli

12. Mushroom

13. Cabbage

14. Honeydew

15. Kiwifruit


Thursday, 23 July 2020

What does your bowel movement say about your state of health?

A toxic digestive system has been implicated with multiple chronic diseases from diseases of the gastrointestinal tract to mental health issues (via the gut-brain connection).  A toxic digestive system includes moving your bowels too frequently or not move your bowels enough.  If you have to move your bowels 3 times before you get out of the door in the morning, that is a problem.  Conversely, if you move your bowels every other day, that is a problem too.

The number of items classified as food has changed dramatically over the last 100 years with industrial revolution and creation of fast food, man made food like substances, highly processed, high sugar, high fat, low fibre, high preservative foods that has substantially altered the bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract (also known as our microbiome).  The change in microbiome has affected the ability of our bodies to burn fats, created problems with blood sugar balance and altered mood and brain function.

Increased use of antibiotics, acid blockers, medication, steroids, chronic stress, highly processed foods and lack of sleep all alter out gut microbiome and function and lead to chronic diseases.  The disruption in our microbiome can change our bowel habits, although bowel habits can also be related to the balance of minerals in your nutritional intake, stress, hydration, lack of digestive energy and inappropriate fibre content of your food.

Most healthy adults have 2-3 main meals a day and it is normal that we have a bowel movement after a meal.  That way, we do not keep rotting remnants of food in our gastrointestinal tract that can feed the bad bugs.  Bad bugs in the gut cause gastrointestinal permeability which in turn can cause loose bowels or constipation, or alternating between the two, weight gain, brain fog and mood swings.

It is also important to minimise added sugar in our food. In this age of lots of processed foods, sugar can be hidden in many foods.  We should only have sugar from fresh fruits and vegetables. (Note:  dried fruits are very sugar dense).  From clinical observation, I have also seen dairy and gluten sensitivity common for people with chronic symptoms particularly in the gastrointestinal tract. However, we are all unique and one man’s meat is another man’s poison.  Identifying what causes your irregular bowel movement is important.  The target is for a Type 4 bowel movement on the Bristol stool chart and that you get a movement every day at least once a day, which does not contain mucus or blood.

 




Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Sweet potato (Kumara) hash brown

Do you fancy hash browns?  It only takes minutes to make up a batch that has no gluten, dairy or any nasty additives in it.

Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato, grated
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp tapioca flour
1 tsp salt to taste
1 Tbsp olive or coconut oil
pepper

Method:

Mix all ingredients together and pan fry on low heat until it is cooked through.  This is useful for an afternoon snack or for lunch boxes.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Do you suffer from recurring headaches?

Recurring headaches are common amongst the young and the elderly.  There are many causes - stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, hormonal problems, food sensitivity, lack of movement, etc.  but definitely not a deficiency in painkillers.  However, the world today treat headaches like a painkiller deficiency.  Are you guilty of doing that?

This is an educational video to educate you on headaches and empower you to take charge.  Pain can cause fatigue and deplete your feeling of wellbeing.  If you have addresssed the issues in the video and still suffer from headache, please get in touch with your healthcare provider, or either one of us in this video.


30 min deconstructed gluten and grain free burger

This is a vegetable rich burger which has no grains, no gluten and no dairy.

Ingredients:

3 medium kumara (sweet potatoes, steamed)
1/2 head of cauliflower (steamed)
1 tsp garlic powder (optional, omit if you are on FODMAP)
1 tsp onion powder (optional, omit if you are on FODMAP)
4 Tablespoons tapioca flour to bind
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Steam the vegetables.  Allow to cool and blend together all ingredients.  Roll into patties and pan fry on low heat.

To assemble burger, you can use any meat or non-meat options of burger patties.  I just use pan fried salmon.  Garnish with lots of salad greens.