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Part 3

DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS

Indigestion, bloating, gas, heartburn: most people in today’s society experience these digestive complaints on a regular basis. While common, this does not mean that these symptoms are normal. If food is not digested properly, whether it’s because of low levels of digestive enzymes, an imbalance of healthy gut bacteria, food sensitivities, or an underlying medical condition, the nutrients in the food are not being optimally absorbed into the body. Over time, this can lead to nutrient imbalances, which can cause a host of different issues, including fatigue.

Simple tips to improve digestion include staying well hydrated throughout the day; chewing food thoroughly to a paste; reducing portion sizes if you are prone to overeating; avoiding large meals when stressed or in a hurry (as this impairs digestion); and eating real food (highly processed and fatty foods have a higher tendency to cause indigestion than whole, or real, foods).

TOO MUCH CAFFEINE

While the occasional use of caffeine can give you a boost of energy, regular caffeine intake may actually lead to chronic fatigue. Here’s why…

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain in response to darkness, and it is responsible for allowing us to go to sleep at night. Melatonin levels start to rise a few hours before bed, and usually peak somewhere between 2 and 4 a.m.. But for coffee drinkers, the amount of melatonin the body produces is halved, and these melatonin depressing effects can last for up to 10 hours after drinking a cup of coffee.

Additionally, caffeine inhibits the release of GABA which is an amino acid and neurotransmitter that is responsible for “switching off” adrenaline. GABA is known for promoting feelings of calm, so inhibiting its release can contribute to feelings of anxiety or an inability to fall asleep.

If you have chronic sleep issues or find yourself feeling perpetually tired, it may be time to swap your java for a healthier alternative, like herbal tea or “grain coffee”. At the very least, it is best to limit caffeine intake before 12 o’clock.

For regular coffee drinkers, abrupt cessation will likely result in withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue, headache, and an intense desire for coffee. Fortunately, this withdrawal period shouldn’t last more than a few days, so if you’re looking to nix the habit, doing it over a weekend when you don’t have to report to work may be a wise decision.

LOW THYROID

Hypothyroidism is a commonly diagnosed medical condition in which there is not enough circulating thyroid hormone in the blood. Blood tests can measure the amount of thyroid hormone circulating in the blood at a given time, and they are often used to make a diagnosis. However, sub clinical hypothyroidism also exists; and often, these individuals experience symptoms of low thyroid but have normal blood test results.

The thyroid is responsible for regulating metabolism and energy production. Therefore, symptoms of low thyroid are numerous and may include: failure to feel rested, even after sleeping long hours; difficulty waking in the morning and gaining momentum to start your day; dizziness; sensitivity to cold; sleeplessness or restlessness; sleep disturbance; poor short-term memory; forgetfulness; unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight; and difficulty concentrating. (This list is not exhaustive. Read more about signs of low thyroid here.)

If you think you may have low thyroid, it is best to seek the advice of a healthcare professional. If blood tests come back normal but you have many of the signs/symptoms of low thyroid, you may want to seek the advice of a holistic healthcare practitioner to help restore balance in your body.

DEPRESSION

Depression causes sadness and hopelessness, but it can also manifest with physical symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, problems with sleep, loss of energy and fatigue.

If you or someone you care about is depressed, seek medical attention from a trained professional. There are many options for treatment aside from just medication, including counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, and mindfulness therapy. Talk to your health care provider to find out what option is right for you.

Click here to take a quiz to find out if you may have depression.

HEART DISEASE

According to Stats Canada, heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada; and 1 in 12 Canadian adults over the age of 20 live with diagnosed heart disease.

What is the role of the heart? It pumps blood to deliver oxygen to our body tissues. When the heart is not functioning optimally, it conserves energy by pumping blood to vital organs and diverts it away from our limbs and muscles. This can cause poor tolerance for physical activity.

If you find yourself fatigued by everyday activities such as climbing a flight of stairs, carrying groceries, or household cleaning, you may want to pay a visit to your health care professional to have your heart checked. Heart disease is a serious matter and requires treatment and lifestyle changes. Talk to your trusted healthcare professional for more information.

PART 4… Back to PART 1PART 2

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NOTE: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.