These past few weeks I have been feeling very low energy. I'm not usually the most energetic person, however, I have noticed a decrease in my energy levels lately, even though the amount of sleep I get has not changed.
When I wake up in the morning I am still tired, then once I get going I feel okay, but then get really tired again in the afternoon and don't have any energy to do anything after work.
My friends think it is just the change in weather, where I live we are starting to have less and less daylight everyday and not as much sunshine. I am wondering if it could be something else, what the underlying reason may be, and what I can do to get more energy?
Thank you for your question. This is an issue I see in almost all of my clients - low energy!
If you think you are getting enough quality sleep and enough exercise, let's explore some other reasons for low energy levels:
2) Digestion, Food Allergies, Candida, Malabsorption, Leaky Gut
3) Adrenal Fatigue &/or Low Thyroid Function
4) Low Iron and/or B12
5) Overworked Liver
6) Blood Sugar Instability
7) Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies (especially Vitamin D if the low energy happened with the seasonal change)
As you can see, there are many reasons for low energy, for some people it could even be a combination of reasons.
The good news is that once we rule-out some of underlying causes we can begin to provide support for the remaining imbalances.
1) Are you drinking enough quality water that your cells can actually absorb? Try to focus on drinking filtered water, a simple counter-top pitcher from Santevia will help remove impurities and chlorine.
The general recommendation of 8 glasses per day is not suitable for everyone because the amount of water we need also relies on our body weight, the climate we live in, how active we are, and how dehydrating our diet is. A good indication that you are properly hydrated includes having to urinate once every three hours and the urine being very pale yellow in colour.
2) Are you eating meals that are too large, or too hard to digest? It takes a lot of energy to digest food so if you notice you are mostly tired after meals this is a good indication that your digestive system is taxed. Good quality digestive enzymes, fermented foods, and eating smaller meals more frequently are all good places to start.
Maybe some of the foods you are eating are especially depleting your energy because they are causing inflammation and irritation - the most common culprits being dairy, gluten, soy, corn, and egg. This can lead to leaky gut syndrome and eventual problems absorbing all of the nutrients from your food, leading to deficiencies.
3) Is your low energy stress related? Stress can tax our adrenal glands to the point of exhaustion. When the adrenals are overworked this can lead to thyroid function slowing down as well.
Of course there may be other underlying reasons for hypothyroid symptoms, however, if stress is a big factor in your life it would be a good idea to have your cortisol and other hormone levels tested. There are ways to support both the adrenals and the thyroid with specific nutrients, adaptogenic herbs, and stress management.
One of the main reasons adrenal fatigue can cause low energy is to do with the normal cortisol rhythm being shifted. With normal cortisol regulation levels are high in the morning and slowly tapers off until it is low at night, allowing for energy in the day and a peaceful nights sleep. When this shifts to being higher in the evening and night and then low in the morning it will cause low energy in the day and harder to fall asleep at night.
Stay tuned for Part 2 - when we discuss reasons 4 to 7. If you would like to receive these blog articles as a monthly newsletter make sure to sign-up!
If you have a health or nutrition related question, feel free to email Shawna directly and she may feature it for the next Q&A session.
Shawna Barker BSc., RHN is a nutritionist specializing in vegan diets.