Exhausted All The Time?
Have you ever thought to yourself “why am i so tired all the time even when I get enough sleep”? You are not alone, many people suffer
with exhaustion day after day, no matter how many hours of shut eye they get. Being chronically exhausted can negatively effect almost every aspect of our lives including our careers and relationships with our friends and family.
Don’t accept the fact that exhaustion is inevitable and incurable, because it is not. By simply adding or taking away certain foods and nutrients from your diet you can drastically improve your energy levels.
Below are some of the most common nutritional reasons why people are always so tired all the time, even when they get the correct amount of sleep.
Being deficient in certain B vitamins, specifically B12, can cause fatigue. Up to 15% of the US population can have a either a sub-optimal intake of B12 or have difficulty absorbing the vitamin. Those who are particularly at risk of having sub-obtimal B12 levels include:
- People who are aged 50+ have a greater risk of being deficient in B12 due to a decreased amount of hydrochloric acid within the stomach, which is responsible for breaking down B12 so that it is more readily absorbed later in the digestive tract. Therefor older adults may need to consume more B12 fortified foods and or B12 supplements.
- Those who suffer from an array of digestive disorders, as well as those who have had weight loss surgery and or gastrointestinal surgery can have a harder time absorbing B12 and therefor require an increased amount of B12.
- Vegetarians and vegans are also at risk of being deficient in B12 because the only foods that naturally contain B12 are all from animal sources.
Below are some food sources of B12, and fortified food sources for those who do not consume animal products. However, if you are not able to absorb B12 at all, or very little, supplementation may be needed or a B12 injection.
Most people do not realize that a reason they might be tired all the time is due to an iron deficiency or sub-optimal intake. There is really only one true way to find our for sure if you are deficient or not, and that is to request a blood test from your doctor.
Women, especially women of ethnic minorities, are at a higher risk of being iron deficient with as many as 25% of US women being at risk for iron deficiency.
Vegans and vegetarians are also at increased risk of iron deficiency anemia, and should closely monitor their iron levels.
Iron is needed in order for red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body, and oxygen is required for our muscles to work. When you are deficient in iron your body struggles to effectively move oxygen around your body, which is why a symptom of iron deficiency is muscle weakness and difficulty when exercising.
However, our brains really suffer the most when there is not enough oxygen because our brain needs about 20% of all the oxygen we ingest. When our brains do no get enough oxygen our memory and our concentration is diminished and cause feelings of sluggishness and low energy.
If you do find that you suffer with an iron deficiency or sub optimal intake try and consume more iron rich food sources, especially sources of heme iron, which is the more effective iron for our bodies to use.
*Check out our post on foods that hinder iron absorption to learn which foods can hurt your iron stores, and an in-depth explanation about the foods that build your iron stores.
Many people do not consume an adequate amount of liquids and are walking around in a state of sub-optimal hydration. Dehydration has been found to cause low energy, decreased brain function, and loss of muscle strength.
When your body is dehydrated, or has a sub-optimal water intake, blood becomes thicker and loses volume which can then cause weakness and fatigue.
Most people tend to forget to drink water throughout the day, especially when they are really busy. But, one of the best ways to combat forgetting to drink water is to have a reuseable BPA free water bottle with you troughout the day.
*For a full explanation about the benefits of proper hydration read our post on hydration.
Poor Glycemic Control
Glycemic control, also referred to as ‘blood sugar control’ can be a complex entity within itself, but for the purposes of this article we are going to focus on the main reason why your blood sugar may be causing you to be exhausted all the time.
Too much sugar in the diet
Your body has an internal mechanism that keeps the amount of sugar in your blood regulated within a certain range. However, our bodies
can’t always keep up with a modern Westernized diet that is high in sugar.
When you consume a lot of sugar with one of your meals or snacks, within 30 minutes of eating, the amount of sugar in your blood spikes and you get the feeling of a ‘sugar high’. When there is too much sugar in your blood your body goes into panic mode, because high amounts of sugar in your blood can be damaging to the body, and therefor the body tries eliminate the excess sugar from the blood. However, when trying to eliminate the excess sugar our bodies overcompensate and removes too much sugar from the blood, which is what happens when you feel a ‘sugar crash’.
When we put ourselves on the sugar roller coaster where we have many ‘sugar highs’ and ‘sugar crashes’ our energy levels plummet. Extreme exhaustion occurs when people ride the sugar roller coaster for days, months, sometimes years, and many people find that no matter how much they sleep they are always exhausted. When we constantly abuse our bodies with too much sugar our internal glycemic control as well as other regulatory systems in our body such as our adrenal glands and our hormones start malfunctioning which causes even more chronic fatigue and exhaustion.
The only way to get off the sugar roller coaster is to cut down or cut out sugar from our diets altogether. To clarify, this does not mean necessarily cutting out all sugar. Some of the healthiest foods have naturally occurring sugars, such as fruits and vegetables. What we recommend is cutting out sugar from processed food products that contain added sugars.
Please leave us a comment or question if you or someone you know suffers from exhaustion that even sleep can’t cure.
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Killip, S., Bennett, J. and Chambers, M. (2007). ron Deficiency Anemia. American Family Physician, 75(5).
Ods.od.nih.gov. (2016). Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B12. [online] Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/ [Accessed 12 Apr. 2016].
University of Maryland Medical Center. (2016). Vitamin B12. [online] Available at: http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/vitamin-b12 [Accessed 12 Apr. 2016].