Fatigue is truly epidemic! Almost without exception, when I interview patients, it becomes apparent that energy levels are just not what they should be. The onset of the fatigue has typically been subtle, and it has then worsened over time. I’ve observed that fatigue has become a new epidemic, while it was relatively uncommon 30 years ago. What has changed? And what can we do about it?
First, let’s consider the devastating impact of unnecessary fatigue. It sabotages quality of life on multiple levels and keeps optimum health as only an illusion. Think about the impact of fatigue. Fatigue (chronic “tiredness”) results in:
- Reduced quality of life and just plain “tired”
- Unwanted weight gain as activity declines
- Feeling “older” than your actual age
- Loss of ambition to achieve new goals
- Less creativity of thought and fewer “new” ideas
- Less work productivity, interfering with promotions
- Fewer recreational activities to “save” energy
- Reduced mental energy, often resulting in a depressed mood
- Inability to be consistent with fitness activities
- Overeating in a subconscious attempt to increase energy
- Reduced activity slows the metabolism, creating even more fatigue
I think we all agree that fatigue is “no fun” and it is worth the effort to pursue, achieve, and maintain an optimum energy level, whatever it takes…
If you have fallen victim to fatigue, consider the following 5 powerful strategies to enhance your energy. Although there are no guarantees on results, these should serve as logical “first steps” on your path towards overcoming fatigue.
Over the years, I have assisted thousands of individuals in improving energy levels. The following strategies are always foundational to my approach. As you consider why you have less energy than you should, consider these 5 strategies as you begin your journey to victory over fatigue:
Strategy #1: Sleep is mandatory for overcoming fatigue.
Research confirms that too little or too much sleep will alter hormone levels that regulate metabolism and energy levels. Sleep is a key component of our circadian rhythm, the orchestra of synchronized hormone production regulating our metabolism on multiple levels. Adults need 7 ½ hours of sleep, with few exceptions. And, before you ask, having a caffeine addiction does not mean that your need for sleep becomes less! If you are an adult, mid-20’s or older, seek 7 ½ hours of quality sleep every night. Adding an afternoon “power nap” of 10-15 minutes is also acceptable. If you are fatigued, start your journey with 7 ½ hours of quality sleep!
Strategy #2: Consume essential nutrients (vitamins and minerals) in optimum levels every day.
This one seems so obvious, and yet it is the most often ignored. As convenience foods have become more common, an epidemic of malnutrition of nutrients has occurred in America. Laboratory testing (and research studies) confirm that vitamin D, iron, magnesium, B-vitamins, vitamin C, essential fatty acids, calcium, and other key nutrients are deficient in some combination in almost every American to some degree. (Read more about malnutrition in America here)
And it is so unnecessary! Of interest, the effects of various nutrient deficiencies almost always include fatigue! If you are already on one of our nutritional programs, you now know another reason I created our Essential Nutrient Package! It includes the essential nutrients that are mandatory for avoiding fatigue. Note: The exception is iron, which due to potential for toxicity, is not in our routine vitamins and is only recommended if blood testing confirms a deficiency.
Strategy #3: Stimulate your metabolism daily with a 9 minute fitness routine!
We are all busy and no one has an “extra” 9 minutes each day. But this is essential! Consider it non-optional. In fact, research has shown that those individuals averaging 9 minutes of fitness time each day live 6.2 years longer than those neglecting this “investment”. This means an activity that creates an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, a sense of exertion, and is sustained for at least 9 minutes pays off in years of life expectancy. More is better, but if you are not stimulating your metabolism with fitness time for 9 minutes a day, don’t be surprised about the fatigue!
Strategy #4: Don’t forget your water!
Water is the lubricant for life! Mild dehydration is epidemic. Even a 1-2% level of dehydration has been shown to reduce alertness and concentration and result in malaise, headaches, and tiredness. We lose about 2500 ml of water each day (10 glasses of 8 oz each) through normal processes. You can choose to stay hydrated, and avoid thirst and mild dehydration. Or, you can wait until you are thirsty, which is a definite symptom of having mild dehydration! If you are fatigued, I suggest you stay hydrated, keeping urine relatively clear and avoid thirst at all times. Drink water throughout the day.
Strategy #5: For more energy, consider research-based, natural supplements:
A number of natural herbal and plant-based supplements have been shown to assist with both mental and physical fatigue. These tools are not intended to replace essentials like sleep and nutrition, but they can be great additions. After reviewing the research on available options, I created a supplement for this purpose known as Energy Plus. The active ingredients include ginseng, green tea extract, caffeine, tyrosine, and capsaicin from red peppers. By stimulating the body to “burn” more stored fat calories and turn them into useful energy, fatigue can be improved. Further, mental energy can be enhanced, increasing mood and the likelihood of engaging in physical activities like going for a walk or getting those household chores completed. Learn more here.
Note: The above strategies are not meant to replace a thorough medical evaluation with a physician. Medical causes of fatigue, such as hypothyroidism, anemia, cancer, medication side effects, heart disease, or clinical depression may require working with a physician to uncover and resolve. The strategies above are for the common types of fatigue that often are “tolerated” unnecessarily, when simple approaches can bring relief.
Fatigue is often, but not always, simple to resolve, if proper strategies are embraced simultaneously and given a few weeks to work. Your body was designed to function as a magnificent, energy-producing machine! Honor your body by providing the essential support necessary for Optimum Health…. and enjoy all the benefits, including a lifetime of energy…
For Optimum Health,
Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.