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If you answer yes to any of these questions, you have a problem with your energy, and some solutions appear later in this article.
1. Do you wake refreshed from sleep, ready to take on the day?
2. Do you have significant energy dips in the day, when you wish you could nap?
3. Have you fallen asleep during an activity (eg: driving, at work, during a hobby)?
4. Do you have a hard time keeping up with your friends?
5. Do you feel sleepy after meals?
6. Do you feel tired all the time?
When it comes to your energy, there are some very common causes, including some that may be a surprise to you. Here are my five tips on the causes of low energy.
If you have low digestive vitality, your energy will be the same. Basically, if you do not digest and absorb your food well, how can you get energy from it? Some signs that you have poor digestion include: heartburn, bloating, belching, abdominal pain, passing significant gas, constipation. Based on my experience as a naturopathic doctor, if you do not address the source of these digestive symptoms, you are susceptible to develop more significant health problems in the future. Basic digestion tips: eat slower, chew your food more, avoid work or stressful discussions while you eat.
Garbage in, garbage out – this holds true for people, and not just computers. Once you’ve resolved any digestive issues, you have to resolve your food quality issues, and or nutritional deficiencies. Eat your fruits and veggies – I recommend these to be most of what you eat. Common nutritional deficiencies that lead to low energy include iron and vitamin B12. Note that both of these deficiencies are aggravated by poor digestion – ie, go back to point one if your medical doctor or naturopathic doctor tell you you have these deficiencies.
The top signs of low thyroid include fatigue, weight gain, and depressive mood. Elevated cholesterol, hair loss, being sensitive to the cold and irregular/heavy menses can also be related to low thyroid function. Low thyroid function is a very controversial topic, including its evaluation. Consider that the most common form of low thyroid is an auto-immune disorder called Hashimoto’s Disease, signs of which can even develop when standard thyroid tests are in the normal range. This is what a study appearing in the medical journal Family Medicine found: thyroid autoimmune antibody “measurement may be appropriate for patients with high-normal TSH [Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, the standard thyroid screening test] to help distinguish those at risk of developing true hypothyroidism.” When speaking with your primary care doctor, ask them if you may have ‘mild’ thyroid dysfunction, or ‘subclinical’ hypothyroidism, and whether it may be useful to treat it to improve your low energy and other signs that may relate.
When you don’t get enough light, you tend to develop fatigue, depressive mood, and trouble sleeping. Getting outside in the morning light can help, or using special bright light units. Other natural supports for your energy include herbs such as astragalus, ginseng, and rhodiola.
Stress, depression, anxiety, and emotional trauma can all have little to no energy as a prominent feature. If you think your fatigue relates to these or other issues, it’s important to get more support: friends, counselors, and physicians.
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