Model turned nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson explains how everything from lack of leafy greens to the wrong drinks could be the cause of your fatigue
There are many things that can contribute to fatigue and exhaustion. Stress is a big player in this department, but there are also things like malabsorption, bad diet, vitamin deficiencies, autoimmune problems and lack of sleep that can play a part. If you're feeling exhausted, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to improve your sleep and your energy...
Find time to relax
Obviously, making sure you are getting enough sleep is always a good place to start, but it could be your daytime habits that are affecting your sleepless nights. Fatigue is usually linked to busy lives and stress; people’s insomnia is often to do with them trying to do too much and not giving themselves enough time to rest and digest. When your grandmother said: ‘Sleep breeds sleep, don’t wake a sleeping child’, she was right! And it does actually make sense; the more relaxed we can keep ourselves the better we sleep.
Just because you are exhausted and haven’t stopped all day doesn’t mean you are going to fall into bed and straight into a lovely sleep. It usually means the opposite: that you’re ‘over’ tired and your adrenal glands don’t know whether they are coming or going. You have basically overridden your endocrine (hormone) system and ignored your body telling you to take five and have a rest. Your body has now stopped producing the right hormones at the right times and adrenaline is pumping at bedtime instead of melatonin, and therefore you can't sleep!
Stress should be temporary
Stress exhausts our body physically and emotionally. When we are in a stressed state, we pump cortisol round our body and this makes our senses sharp and our blood literally pump - this is only meant to be a very temporary state. The problem is that a lot of us live in this state the majority of the time and we literally run out of stress hormones, and then we produce adrenaline to compensate and end up with what is known as adrenal fatigue. If left untreated this may go on to cause chronic fatigue, an illness that takes years of rehabilitation and care to pick yourself up from! Signs that your fast-paced life is starting to take its toll are things like being totally exhausted after lunch, tired all the time, weight gain, dull skin, sluggishness, food sensitivities, bloating and feeling overwhelmed by life.
Check in with your gut
How do you get life and vitality back? As Hippocrates said: ‘Health is a positive state, not just the absence of disease’ - being without illness is not enough. We want to feel full of energy and life and to get there we need a bit of self-care! Firstly you really need to have a word with yourself and assess where you can calm down, take more time and chill out.
Secondly, check in on your diet and what you’re eating. Is it the best fuel you could be putting into your body? How do you feel when you do eat? Do you get bloated ? Do you have odd bowel movements? If you do, these could be the signs and symptoms of having a problem in the gut. It makes sense, I think, that if you are not digesting food and absorbing nutrients properly your body isn’t getting what it needs and so you won’t be getting the fuel you need to be on top of the world!
Things to do in this situation are CHEW your food and taking time to sit, eat and digest. Chewing helps start the digestion process. If you aren’t sitting down and taking time to digest, your body may be busy doing other things which means that it may not digest the food to the best of its ability. This can also lead to weight gain. If you are suffering with bloating and less than ideal bowel movements (too hard, too loose, not frequent enough), then an intolerance test may also be something you should think about having.
Implement good sleep protocol
Next on our list for rejuvenation is what I call at my clinic: good sleep protocol. No TV, computers, phones, iPads or any devices in the bedroom and instead read a book before bed. Take a bath with Epsom salts before hitting the hay as they are really high in magnesium which is best absorbed into the body via the skin. Magnesium is one of the go-to supplements or nutrients that I use in clinic for stress and fatigue - it is like nature’s valium.
Eat energy-boosting foods
To fight your way back to energy you want to look out for food that contains B vitamins (found in green leafy vegetables, lean meat and fish), and magnesium (found in almonds and green leafy veg). Make sure that you start the day with breakfast and eat at regular times of the day so you don’t allow your blood sugar levels to drop.
Switch up your liquids
Things like caffeine, alcohol, fizzy drinks and sugar may feel like they are helping at the time but actually they are definitely making the matter worse - avoid! Replace with herbal tea and try fizzy water instead of sugary fizzy drinks. Snack on nuts and seeds that are calming to the body rather than sweets and chocolate which will leave you feeling more exhausted than before!
Get to the root of the problem
A multivitamin supplement which is high in vitamin B, calcium and magnesium will help for a bit but you need to deal with the cause. Whether this is work, staying out late, family pressure, extreme gym regime, you need to get to the bottom of it. Once you have made that change you can allow your body to be the best it can!