Tired all the time?
If you feel tired all the time you are not alone! Tiredness and fatigue are symptoms that many adults, particularly women, suffer from. Even after a good night’s sleep some people feel tired throughout the day, while other people have energy lows at certain, regular times of the day.
The causes of fatigue are various. Fatigue and tiredness can be caused by poor sleep, stress, inadequate nutrition, malabsorption, food intolerance, poor blood sugar control, blood loss (usually menstrual), an underactive thyroid gland or some other underlying illness. At Intelligent Nutrition we will consider each factor as we put together your nutritional programme.
We will show you a way of eating that will help you regain your energy and improve your health generally. You will learn about the different food groups, which are the most important for energy and how to combine different foods to best combat fatigue.
Carbohydrates and blood sugar
We will identify for you which carbohydrate foods are helpful for improving energy and which are counter-productive, giving you an instant energy boost, but leaving you flat on the rebound. We will show you which foods you should eat with carbohydrates to avoid your blood sugar falling too rapidly before your next meal.
Poor energy levels in people are often related to inadequate fluid intake. We will indicate how much you should be drinking for your body size and level of exercise. We will also show you which fluids you should be drinking and which ones contribute to tiredness and fatigue.
There are many ways we can help you to improve your blood sugar control. Choosing appropriate meals and when to eat them is one way; knowing which foods help and which foods hinder blood sugar control is another. Regular exercise is helpful too. We will help you find out whether you are likely to have low levels of certain vitamins and minerals. The trace mineral chromium is particularly important for blood sugar balance. Supplementing with nutrients that you may be short of can make a world of a difference.
The iron age
Women of child-bearing age have a particular problem when it comes to fatigue. It is not just iron that is lost during regular monthly bleeding, but other minerals such as magnesium, and vitamins too. If your monthly cycle is heavy it may be a constant struggle to get sufficient iron and other nutrients into your body to counter balance your losses.
Low iron stores can affect other people as well: those with malabsorption issues, vegetarians or vegans, people whose diet is poor, and the elderly.
To assess low levels of iron some GPs still just test haemoglobin levels, however a much better test is serum ferritin. This checks your levels of stored iron. Research published in scientific journals over the last couple of decades have shown that the level at which ferritin stores are associated with fatigue is much higher than previously thought, much higher than the figure quoted as an adequate reference level for doctors in the UK.
The form of iron given to people with low iron stores is also an important factor. Iron sulphate and other inorganic forms of iron are not well absorbed at all. This is why they irritate the gut lining causing constipation and/or diarrhoea. There are forms of iron available which are much better absorbed and tolerated by the gut. This will all be part of our assessment and advice to you at Intelligent Nutrition.
The hormone link
Certain hormone groups, in particular the thyroid hormones and adrenal hormones, are often low or out of balance in people who are chronically tired and stressed. When we assess you we will take this into account and help you find out whether low thyroid or adrenal stress is contributing to your fatigue and what to do about it.
Malabsorption and food intolerance
For some people their problem may not be so much what they are eating, but that their absorption of nutrients from food isn’t what it should be. If malabsorption is your problem, there may be something you can do about it.
Another fatigue-causing problem can be food intolerance. If you have gut-related symptoms caused by food intolerance, this may be the cause of your malabsorption.
Food intolerance causes fatigue by other means too. The simplest way to explain it is that if your body thinks that a food you are eating is bad for you it will expend energy trying to protect you from it.
Food elimination and reintroduction diets are one way to identify food intolerances. However, reliable blood tests are also available which check for the raised levels of inflammatory chemicals (leukotrienes) or food-specific antibodies that indicate intolerance to those particular foods.
Identifying food intolerances can be a complex process. At Intelligent Nutrition we can help you through this. If you are intolerant to particular foods we will advise you how your current diet needs to change and which foods you can substitute to that you maintain an enjoyable, varied and balance diet.
We are able to offer laboratory tests as part of our service to you. The most appropriate tests are indicated below. Please see our Laboratory Tests page for more details.
Serum Ferritin (stored iron), usually carried out by your GP
Thyroid Tests (TSH, free T4, free T3)
Food Allergy and Food Intolerance Tests
The Nutrition Clinic, Leeds
Although we are based in Leeds, we see clients from all over Yorkshire including Harrogate, York, Bradford, Huddersfield, Halifax, Wakefield and much further afield. For those living too far to travel we also offer telephone consultations.