by London Nutritionist Sylvia Hensher
One of the most common causes of visiting a healthcare practitioner is the complaint of fatigue. There are different kinds of fatigue. It may be constant, beginning in the morning after a full night’s sleep or it may build up throughout the day. Your nutritional status can and does play a major role in the prevention and treatment of fatigue. Here are some factors to consider when trying maximising your energy levels throughout the day.
Nutritional causes of low energy
- Eating refined carbohydrates and sugars: these are found in white bread, rice and pasta, cakes, honey, jam, soda drinks, sweets. These foods are digested quickly and therefore rapidly release sugar (glucose), the main source of fuel for our cells, into the bloodstream. This provokes the release of excess insulin, a hormone which controls blood sugar levels by stimulating cells to take up glucose, as excess glucose is toxic to tissues. Excessive amounts of insulin remove excessive amounts of sugar from the blood, which results in low blood sugar; this can reduce the glucose supply to cells which depend on glucose for energy and therefore reduce our energy levels.
- Food sensitivities: allergenic foods can act as a stressor on the body and lead to low blood sugar so that cells lack enough sugar (glucose) for optimal functioning, making you feel tired.
- Nutrient deficiencies such as B and C vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper which are needed for energy production can lead to low energy
- Stimulants such as coffee, chocolate and nicotine increase levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline (1) which sharply spike up blood sugar levels. This causes the release of large amounts of insulin to remove the excess sugar which is not used by the body and subsequently leads to an energy slump.
- Dehydration– every cell in your body needs water for a myriad of chemical reactions, including the burning of glucose and the breakdown of fat for energy production.
Other causes of low energy
- Stress leads to a sugar imbalance because it triggers the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which increase blood sugar levels. This stimulates the release large amounts of the hormone insulin, which removes the excess glucose from the blood, leading to low blood sugar and insufficient energy supply to our cells
- Anaemia–this refers to a condition in which the blood is deficient in red blood cells or the haemoglobin (iron-containing) portion of red blood cells. The function of red blood cells is to transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body and help turn fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy. Thus a lack of red blood cells reduces the amount of oxygen being delivered to tissues and thus energy levels. Iron, vitamins B12 and folic acid are needed to make properly functioning red blood cells, and anaemia may be caused by a shortage of these nutrients. These nutrient deficiencies may be due to a poor diet, heavy menstrual bleeding, pregnancy or poor nutrient absorption as found in coeliac disease and Crohn’s disease.
- Poor adrenal functioning-the adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and The adrenal glands are situated on top of the kidneys and one of their main jobs is to release hormones which help the body maintain a state of alertness as well as help raise blood sugar levels when they are low. If the adrenal glands are overworked due to constant uninterrupted stress and poor nutrition, their ability to produce hormones which help maintain steady blood sugar levels can become compromised.
- Poor thyroid functioning– The thyroid controls energy production, so an underactive thyroid can result in reduced energy production, making us feel tired..
Optimising your energy levels through nutrition and lifestyle Continue reading “Energise Your Diet”