Fatigue is only a symptom of an underlying problem. There is no quick-fix pill to raise energy levels permanently --rather the source of the symptom has to be found and eliminated. Sometimes the causes are many and interlinked within a person, but the first area to investigate is the diet. You are what you eat -- meaning that what you eat turns into you. So if poor quality food is eaten, poor quality you results!
Causes of Fatigue
1. Iron Deficiency is the best known cause of fatigue and is more common in menstruating women than others. When replacing iron, use iron phosphate, as it is non-toxic, rarely causes side-effects or constipation, and it absorbs well. Dietary sources of iron should be increased. Meat-eaters can get it from lamb's liver/kidneys, other meats and dairy products. Green vegetables are high in iron, but it is poorly absorbed, so vegetarians must rely on food sources lower in content buy high in availability, such as kelp, brewer's yeast, molasses, walnuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, soya beans, other pulses and fruit. Grains must be soaked, sprouted, fermented or cooked.
2. Folic acid deficiency may cause anaemia because this vitamin is necessary for the formation of red blood cells. Vegetarian rarely suffer from this type of anaemia. This is one of the many vitamins washed out of the body by the contraceptive pill, and research points to the value of folic acid in preventing birth defects, if the mother takes it before conception and for the first three months. The recommended dose is 400mcg daily for adults.
3. Hypoglycaemia causes fatigue because of low blood sugar levels, which mean no energy sources for the cells. If fatigue is clearly related to certain times of the day, such as late afternoon and before breakfast and if there is accompanying irritability, mood swings, weepiness or headaches, then follow the diet for hypoglycaemia.
4. Hypothyroidism can cause fatigue because when the thyroid gland is working too slowly, metabolism(energy production) is decreased. A slight hypothyroidism is common and will not show on a blood test. Diagnosis is according to symptoms, and several of the following will be present: difficulty in losing weight, fluid retention, a low body temperature, increased sensitivity to cold, dry skin or hair, puffy eyes in the morning, callouses on the feet, a slow pulse, lethargy and poor digestive function.
5. Stress is a direct cause of fatigue because it eventually weakens the adrenal glands. This means that the adrenalin supply is reduced, and therefore the normal conversion of stored sugar to glucose happens very slowly. Slow conversion leads to low blood sugar and fatigue. After long periods of anxiety, overwork or tension, the adrenal glands will become exhausted and say "enough is enough".
6. Heavy Metals accumulating in the body can affect brain function and energy levels. It is well known that aluminium, mercury and lead can have toxic effects on the brain. The early symptoms of mercury poisoning are anxiety, depression, headaches, fatigue, poor concentration and poor memory, spaceyness and muscle tremor. Later muscle weakness and poor co-ordination develop. Numbness and tingling of the extremities or visual or speech difficulties may occur as well.
7. Lead, Aluminium, Copper and Nickel all affect brain function, and the best method of determining body levels is through hair analysis, as blood tests are inaccurate. Vitamins, minerals and amino acids can be used to remove heavy metals.
8. Chronic constipation is a major cause of fatigue, as the brain is poisoned by the reabsorption of toxins through the bowel wall. Modern diets high in junk food, processed food and animal protein are low in fibre, so that the bowel contents are not cleared quickly enough. The use of laxatives, poor habits, lack of exercise and constant worry all contribute to chronic constipation with its resultant fatigue.
9. A lack of nutrients is another major cause of fatigue. Usually it is not a deficiency of the common vitamins at fault, but a lack of the trace and macrominerals, which should be plentiful in the diet. There are twelve basic minerals of which the body is largely composed, and if any are unbalanced a chain reaction of symptoms occur.
10. Allergic reactions to common food is a common reason for fatigue. It happens to children, adolescents and adults. People who are stressed have compromised immune systems, and this is often enough to tip the balance from adaptation to allergens into producing allergic symptoms. When a person is in adaptation, allergic complexes are removed from the blood by the immune system and symptoms are prevented. This is why many people are not even aware of being allergic to a food. However, the blood brain barrier, which protects the brain from toxicity in the blood, is permeable to histamine released as a result of an allergic reaction. This is why so many people with food allergies suffer variations of mental effects.
11. Other causes of fatigue are depression, bordom, anxiety and lack of exercise, and of course many diseases have fatigue as one of the symptoms. An early warning of rheumatoid arthritis is fatigue when any sort of effort is made. Candida, liver and kidney diseases, infectious fever and cancer all make people tired and lethargic.
The cause must be found and treated at the same time as improving the diet. In addition there are supplements which will enhance energy production. Many processed food contain preservatives to stop them from going bad. The most ancient and commonly used are salt and vinegar. These days, lots of artificial ones are also available to food manufacturers. Artificial sweetener aspartame contains an amino acid called phenylalanine. A small minority of people who have a condition called phenylketonuria, are not able to digest it effectively. Because of this, all food containing aspartame must carry a warning on the information panel saying "Phenylketonurics -- contains phenylalanine."
When it comes to vegetables, fruit and cereal crops, the concern is not with hormones and antibiotics, but with residues of pesticides used during their growth, and chemicals present during storage to prevent spoilage or slow down the ripening process. If pesticides and food additives pose any potential risk at all, we might be better off eating organic health products and even using organic products too. Organic food is more costly, but they are known to taste better.