The feeling of being tired as a concept is extremely hard to define, since everybody has their own idea of what being tired means. Everybody is tired once in a while and the most common reason is, of course, lack of sleep. The number of people complaining of tiredness increases every year; 1 in 10 people are suffering from persistent tiredness, with women more likely to be affected than men.
Too many late nights, not eating the right foods and even a change in the weather are all reasons we give for feeling tired. For most of us, an early night and a long lie in will usually do the trick, but for 1 in 10 people persistent tiredness is a problem that continues to affect their daily lives.
If you are persistently tired then you should get checked out by your GP. Here are a few of the most common reasons for tiredness:-
Iron deficiency is one of the most common reasons for feeling overly lethargic, having a ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude or for aching muscles. Anaemia tends to affect 1 in 20 men and women and can be rectified by taking iron supplements. You should also go about including more iron-rich foods in your diet such as molluscs, liver, nuts and dark leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard.
One of the main symptoms of diabetes is feeling very tired. The other key symptoms are feeling very thirsty, going to the toilet a lot, and weight loss; due to the lack of control of sugar levels in your blood. If you think you might have diabetes and/or if you are experiencing persistent tiredness or extreme drops in energy levels then it is important that you visit your GP so that they can advise you further.
Sleep Apnoea is a condition where your throat narrows or closes during sleep and repeatedly interrupts your breathing. This results in bad snoring and a drop in your blood’s oxygen levels. The difficulty in breathing means that you wake up often in the night, and feel exhausted the next day.
One of the most common symptoms of food intolerance is fatigue although people often use other health conditions as an explanation for their symptoms. If you have been checked out by your GP and think that the foods you eat might be contributing to your feeling of lethargy then you may have food intolerance.
For those with fatigue, acknowledging that certain food combinations can contribute to symptoms, and then identifying and eliminating the specific foods from their diet, is an important step forward in improving energy levels. However, it is this very task – the identification of problem foods – that is the biggest challenge. At the moment, the most accepted method for discovering food intolerances/sensitivities is through the elimination diet which involves eating a restricted diet for several weeks. However, trialing multiple food combinations is not only impractical but a lengthy process too.
Furthermore, there are no set foods that trigger tiredness as a symptom for each and every person – as everyone’s food reactivity ‘fingerprint’ is different. For example, wheat, kidney beans and eggs may cause one person to feel more washed out and lacking in energy but will be fine for someone else to eat even though they suffer from chronic fatigue.
Reasons why you shouldn’t reach for energy drinks
Feeling tired all the time is no doubt frustrating and it can impact our professional and social lives – whether that’s not being able to concentrate at work or having to leave social engagements early because you’re too drained. If you’re persistently tired reaching for an energy drink or making a sugary coffee to ‘perk you up’ is often a strong temptation.
However, whilst they may give you a quick fix as the sugar (small molecule) rushes through the stomach wall, blood stream and straight into the brain, very quickly the body reacts to normalise the sugar levels. In fact the body often over-reacts to compensate and sugar levels fall down again much lower that when you started (this is called reactive hypoglycemia) making you feel worse!
Whilst there are many reasons for why tiredness can affect us the main priority is to rule out any medical conditions with your GP before looking at potential food intolerances. Once you’ve addressed this you can look at seeing if it is a dietary adjustment that will lead to you feeling more alert.
Take our FirstStep Test to find out whether IgG antibody reactions to foods and drinks are detected in your blood.
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