Do you feel like you need more energy? Have you taken medication and it hasn’t helped? Are your lab findings normal but you’re still tired? Fatigue is something to not take lightly, it is a symptom that could lead to many conditions down the road. Fatigue is something that effects all of us, just in different levels. Fatigue is a normal protective mechanism in the body to keep us from overexerting ourselves beyond our ability to function which can cause irreparable damage. Some people simply wish they had more energy, wish they could exercise again, lose weight, some can’t function longer than a few hours to not functioning at all. Many people have blocks in their ability to convert the food they eat into energy but can easily turn it into fat. This is why many people are overweight and fatigued. Sound like you? We are about to dive into possible causes of fatigue and what you need to do now!
3 Common Causes of Fatigue Your Doctor May Not Be Telling You About
Thyroid and Adrenal Fatigue
Our hormones typically are the first thing to go in patients. Thyroid hormone is our metabolic gas pedal, it’s what tells our cells how fast to go. Many people who come in to see me have normal yearly thyroid labs, but that’s simply not enough for me to see what’s really going on from a functional/nutritional stand point. Typical labs are TSH and T4. I recommend testing TSH, Total and Free T4, Total and free T3, Reverse T3, T3 uptake, TPO and TG antibodies. This gives us a much clearer picture of the delicate thyroid physiology and what we need to do. Many people will have normal labs but they are outside nutritional/optimal ranges. This means you may not need thyroid hormone yet, but we can improve the function with simple nutritional and lifestyle protocols. Typically, you will see weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, morning headaches, constipation, thinning eyebrows, and other symptoms.
The adrenal glands are what secrete cortisol, adrenalin and some testosterone. Cortisol has a lot to do with insulin and blood sugar regulation and is very destructive on our bodies. Emotional and chemical stress can cause our cortisol to raise and potentially start the destructive process. Under stress our bodies will shunt our cholesterol to produce cortisol instead of our protective hormones. This can lead to low hormones, blood sugar issues, fatigue, irritability, weight gain, and other symptoms
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Toxins and fatigue
Toxins can inhibit enzymes that replicate DNA, produce ATP, hinder neurotransmitter production, move energy molecules across cell membranes, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Toxins range from VOCs that are in furniture, flooring, industrial use, dry cleaners, nail polishes/paints, furniture, new electronics or really anything that has that chemical smell to it. Phthalates/estrogens that are in plastics and cosmetics. Pesticides that are on our food or exposed to in our environment. Heavy metals that are in our environment and foods we eat. We are constantly being bombarded with toxins and our bodies have to detox them out. ATP production in our cells also produces toxins that have to be removed, so when our bodies have to remove extra toxins it can get backed up and slow down our energy production. This is something we can test as well with advanced toxic exposure testing and detox pathway analysis. Interesting enough many of our detox pathways are also tightly associated with neurotransmitter production and breakdown, especially our methylation system.
Methylation is required to generate SAMe which is used in over 400 enzymes in our bodies. I’ve seen many people feel a lot better, lose weight, become more productive and overall enjoy life more when we support their methylation.
Acute / Chronic Infections and food sensitivities
Our immune system is designed to slow us down when we are sick. This keeps us from going out and exercising, cleaning the house, cutting the grass when we are trying to fight an infection. But what happens when we can’t fight an infection off and it becomes chronic? We will end up staying in a constant state of immune activation which will make us feel tired and moody all the time!
This doesn’t always show up on your yearly or even extensive blood work. Sometimes we have to dive deeper and look at EBV, CMV, HSV and other viral markers. As well you should consider what’s growing in your gut. Certain forms of clostridia and candida can grow in our bellies and wreak havoc on our immune system and nervous system. There is a lot of research showing correlation between gut bugs and depression, anxiety, fatigue, bio-polar, schizophrenia and autism. A simple test I like to look at is a simple urine Organic Acid Test. This can show us clostridia and candida infections when other testing shows negative.
Food sensitivities can also upregulate our immune system via a leaky gut. As the food we eat travels through our intestines we may not be able to break them down and undigested proteins get into our bloodstream
and our immune system has to get rid of it. So say you have a mild sensitivity to say dairy or eggs and you eat dairy once a week you may have a constant immune activation from that. Food sensitivities reactions can last for weeks. That’s why you normally need to come off of foods you’re sensitive to for months at a time. These can be tested through easy blood tests to help identify them.
Mitochondrial Deep Dive
Our bodies will turn the food we eat into a molecule called ATP. ATP is our energy currency, similar to dollar bills and coins in our economy. Our immune system uses ATP to fight infection and cancer, our brains use ATP to signal between neurons and create neurotransmitters, every function in our bodies uses ATP. And when there is a shortage of ATP, we can’t function properly and it can have grave effects. ATP is produced inside our cells by an organelle called a Mitochondria. Mitochondria are essentially the Treasury department and Reserve. When they are not functioning optimally and churning out ATP we may not have energy to get through our day, fight that infection, heal injuries, focus on tasks, be social, get out of bed, or finish a marathon that we once could. If you fatigue easier than others or have multiple symptoms, more than likely you have some form of mitochondrial dysfunction.
Mitochondria are very sensitive little guys and we have to keep them in top shape! Inside them our bodies uses oxygen to produce energy. The thing is, oxygen is very harsh on tissue. Oxygen is why a banana will turn brown once it’s opened and exposed to air. The same happens inside of us! Mitochondria are prone to what’s called oxidative stress or damage from oxygen. There are genetic issues in some people who make them more prone to oxidative stress.
If you push yourself to far, your body will shift from aerobic to anaerobic states which just means your body isn’t using oxygen to produce energy/ATP. This is what builds up Lactic acid in muscles and makes people sore for days after exercise. What’s happening here is your body isn’t recycling spent ATP back into energized ATP. This can take days to recover from if you overdo it exercising or do to much yard work. A quick way around this is making what I call ATP Coffee. Your body can easily convert D-Ribose sugars into ATP, so I will sweeten my coffee with D-ribose and add a little grass-fed butter to my coffee. This should help perk you back up after overdoing it. But remember you’re just masking a symptom and you really need to get to the bottom of what’s going on!
I typically will order Organic Acid Testing on fatigue or overweight patients to evaluate their energy production. This test is a simple urine test that shows exactly how you’re breaking down the food you eat and converting it to energy. Sound interesting? It’s a great test and tells us much more than just that!
This has been a brief rundown of common causes of fatigue and now let’s talk a little about what we can do.First off fatigue, brain fog, and weight gain are all important symptoms that shouldn’t be brushed off. If you don’t have enough energy to get through your day, your immune system may not have enough energy to fight off your next infection or even fight cancer. It’s time to get serious about your health, you only live once.
If you’re serious about turning your health around, I offer a free 15 min. phone consultation to see if I can help you or if I know someone who can. It doesn’t matter where you live or what your complaint is. This offer won’t last long!