Ask a Naturopath – Why am I so tired?

Hello everyone

 My name is Elizabeth Jordan and I am a naturopath at Queanbeyan Health Foods. We get many people who rely on our experience and advice when confronting health issues. I thought I would share some of the most common conditions we encounter that you may relate to.  Some will be based on actual individuals who are happy to have others benefit from their experience and have given their permission to have their story told.  You can also post questions on the blog site and I’ll endeavour to answer them.

 The following is from a client who was from a more orthodox medical background and initially, not overly receptive to natural therapies. However, due to chronic fatigue and feeling very lack lustre, she asked me the following:

 “Lately I’ve been feeling as though I could use more energy.  I’m a 55 year old female who has quite a physically active job but I don’t do any exercise.  These days I’m finding that I’m very tired by the end of the day and sometimes after meals.  I’ve been a smoker for over 30 years (currently I have about 10-15 cigarettes a day) and have been on blood pressure lowering medication for over 10 years.  Apart from that my health is generally pretty good and I was told previously that I have a strong constitution.  Any suggestions as to how I could improve my energy”?

 This was my response, over a couple of sessions:

 “Your weight and diet are big contributing factors (the client was overweight and her diet included lots of coffee, cigarettes and fatty, salty foods).  Some form of fat burning exercise that increases your cardiac output is going to improve the oxygen available to your entire body, and your overall level of fitness and vitality.  Why not start with a leisurely walk each morning, increasing this to thirty minutes at least three times a week and including a more brisk pace as you become more accustomed to it. 

 Regarding your diet I’d make sure you include lots of water, fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains and modify or eliminate your intake of saturated fat such as untrimmed meat, baked foods, chicken with the skin on, and full cream varieties of dairy foods.  The same for fats that have become damaged in their handling and preparation such as heated frying oil that has started to smoke or any food containing hydrogenated or trans fats on the labelling like margarine or crisps. 

 Your blood sugar levels might be another contributing factor so I’d also make sure you have a mid morning and afternoon snack to increase your metabolism (the client didn’t skip meals), combine carbohydrates with protein dense foods every time you eat (eg poached eggs on wholegrain toast for breakfast; fruit and ½ cup low fat yoghurt for a snack; fish and salad vegetables for dinner) and restrict your portion sizes of calorie rich foods – eg ½ a cup of corn, potato or rice per serve, meat portions the size of the palm of your hand, ½ glass of fruit juice diluted with water.  The sorts of carbohydrates you consume should be released into the bloodstream slowly.  I referred her to a website that discusses the glycaemic index.  This is www.glycemicindex.com if you think you may suffer from blood sugar problems and wish to learn more about the GI rating of foods.

 This client had lots of inflammation and acidity as a result of her lifestyle (refer to the article on Acidity and Alkalinity which explains this concept).  Because she mentioned that she smoked and was on anti-hypertensive medication I recommended an anti-oxidant called Co-Enzyme Q10.  It occurs naturally in the body as Ubiquinone, and has an affinity for the heart and circulation, increasing oxygenation and myocardial tone. It also decreases muscle fatigue and tissue damage. This makes it a very useful supplement to counteract the effects of free radicals and oxygen deprivation caused by smoking that increases fatigue (40-150mg a day).  I also advised her to increase her intake of vitamin C – either through her dietary intake (eg leafy greens, potato, citrus fruits, berry fruits) or through supplementation (250mg four times a day).  She was aware that smoking depletes tissue levels of vitamin C which is needed by the body for overall energy and immune function.  It goes without saying that smoking will significantly increase your risk of ageing, cancer, cardiovascular disease and mortality but for many people, the neuro-linguistic brain patterning is so deep that they genuinely find it hard to quit.  I made this client a Bush flower remedy and used Isopogon as one of the main essences.  It is a remedy in a repertoire discovered by Ian White (go to www.ausflowers.com.au if you’re interested in learning more), and is very effective at stopping repetitive, obessessive thoughts, hence its applicability with addictions.  I also put in some Sturt Desert Pea to heal old deep wounds as any form of addiction acts like an anaesthetic to dull the pain.  There were other remedies to help with other aspects of the client’s health that I will present separately on the blog, as this is very effective healing modality that deserves more attention.  In the meantime, any of the staff at Queanbeyan Health Foods can discuss these with you and we stock an extensive range of the Australian Bush Flower remedies.

 At a later session I advised the client to increase her dietary levels of B vitamins and magnesium that help with overall bodily energy.  Good sources of the Bs include eggs, nuts, whole grains such as brown rice and lean red meat.  Magnesium is found in high concentrations in dark green vegetables, breads, cereals, broccoli, squash, and nuts, especially almonds.  These nutrient sources in conjunction with foods rich in vitamin C help to support women in the post menopausal stage of your life, by strengthening the adrenal glands.  These glands take over in producing most of the body’s oestrogen, and is another reason why some women don’t feel as energetic as they once did once they hit the peri or menopausal years. 

 I also advised the client to see her GP and have her cholesterol, blood sugar levels, iron, folate, B12 and thyroid tested to rule out any metabolic or nutritional imbalances that may have been exacerbating or causing her vitality to lessen.  Both cholesterol and BGLs were high; the client was actually pre-diabetic.  This gave her the motivation to make some of the dietary and lifestyle changes discussed above.

 We also discussed her emotional state which she was comfortable to do, more so after taking her initial flower remedy which seems to help people open up. I asked her to think about her emotional state. Was she content overall with her life?  Had she been feeling depressed or stressed?  What were the emotional issues she was currently dealing with?  Did she regard herself as a positive or negative person?  It’s no medical mystery that if your circumstances or attitude are preventing you from experiencing a certain amount of enjoyment and ease then this will undoubtedly affect your vitality and health. 

 I didn’t see this client for a few months. When she returned, this dedicated for life smoker had given up, she’d lost weight, made some of the dietary adjustments needed to help with all of her issues and looked a lot healthier.  She even eats amaranth and quinoa – two beautiful, nutritious Aztec grains that are high in protein and balance blood sugar levels.  She won’t give up her coffee but at least she now has a nice organic brand that uses the green bean!

 I hope this case scenario has helped you.  Don’t forget to write into the blog if you’d like a health question addressed.  Otherwise, there are other practitioners and highly experienced staff at Queanbeyan Health Foods who can help you in person.

 Yours in health

 Elizabeth

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