"You are what you eat" may sound like a bit of a cliché, but it’s quite literally true. The virtues of a balanced diet have long since been promoted by health professionals, and with good reason. Fad diets or putting your body through extreme ‘quick fixes’ are not sustainable ways of staying healthy and in shape. The only way to maintain a good level of health is to treat your body with respect, be aware of any unusual changes in it and to understand that your lifestyle and diet will impact you on a cellular level. As a nutritional therapist, I recommend an appropriate selection of foods and fluids, timing of intake and supplement choices for optimal health and energy.
The strain of keeping up with the hectic urban, modern lifestyle is becoming more prevalent in my clinic every week. The result is often ‘fatigue’: the state following a period of mental or bodily activity characterised by a diminished capacity for work and reduced efficiency of accomplishment, which may also be accompanied by a feeling of weariness, sleepiness, mood changes and increasing pain.
Adequate and appropriate nutrition is crucial to healthy energy metabolism. Without the optimal daily intake of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, phytonutrients and energy, optimal vitality and physical performance will not be achieved. Even with what may be considered ‘adequate’ nutritional intake, energy demands may well exceed input and stores in the presence of emotional, social and physical stressors. These stressors deplete our nutrient reserves through a series of biochemical pathways, which if left unabated will result in one or a number of systems being affected, in turn impacting our energy output and causing fatigue.
It could be the digestive system that has been impacted. For example, if you are not absorbing nutrients properly, the nutrients required in the pathway to make ATP—our ‘fuel’—are not as readily available. Or it could be that your adrenal and/or thyroid glands have been impacted and therefore energy levels are starting to decline as a result.
Iron-deficiency anaemia can also be a major cause of fatigue. Low iron levels can occur because the absorption process in the gut has become inefficient, which can be the result of a number of factors such as an insufficient level of stomach acid or the effect of substances such as phytates which are found in grains and the tannins that are present in tea. Low levels of B12 and folic acid can also produce either megaloblastic or pernicious anaemia.